DUNCAN BARKES: Our royal family is gaining popularity

THE findings of the first survey to be conducted following the birth of Prince George make fascinating reading.

But if you are a republican it will have you weeping into your muesli.

One cannot fail to be impressed with how the 21st-century royals dealt with their new arrival.

We witnessed Charles joshing and teasing the acres of waiting media. William and Kate descended the steps outside the hospital, babe in arms, willingly taking questions from the salivating hacks, all desperate for something – anything – they could report on.

The stroke of genius came minutes later when the new family were set 
to leave, with William adeptly tackling the new-dad nightmare 
of plumbing the baby carrier into 
the back seat before driving his wife and new baby home.

All gooey, feel-good stuff. And it has certainly increased the popularity of the monarchy.

When asked the question ‘Do you think Prince George will one day ascend to the throne, or will Britain will have become a republic by then?’, only nine per cent chose the republic option.

A similar poll two years ago saw a quarter of respondents believing Britain would become a republic inside the next 50 years. Clearly this has changed.

Cynics might conclude the 
new-found support for the monarchy is simply flash in the pan; the result of the birth of a new baby. I am not so sure.

It is clear that over the past five years a real effort has been made to change the image of the royal family, and I think it has worked.

The new version of royalty is reconnecting with many across the land.

Even the cost argument against maintaining the 
royals is pretty lame these days.

The monarchy is no 
longer paid for by the Exchequer. Instead, a chunk of the profits from the Crown Estate – the assets owned by the Queen in her official capacity – is given to the royals as a Sovereign Grant worth just over £36m a year, a bargain if ever there was one.

Republicanism in the UK is a dead duck and confidence in the British monarchy is at all-time high. Which is just as well.

The prospect of a President Blair filled me with abject horror.

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