LONDON -- Four out of five Britons remain firmly royalist but nearly 60 percent think Queen Elizabeth II should step down to allow her eldest son Prince Charles to become king, according to an opinion poll published yesterday.
The Gallup poll, published in The Daily Telegraph, reported 82 percent of those questioned said they were in favor of the British monarchy, just 14 percent wanted it abolished and the rest expressed no opinion.
But 59 percent thought the 62-year-old queen should "retire" early, allowing Charles, 40, to become king.
Because of the disgrace surrounding the abdication in 1936 of the queen's uncle King Edward VIII, later the duke of Windsor, to marry American divorce'e Wallis Simpson, the queen has said she will never abdicate.
Charles, whose concern for the poor and homeless and opposition to what he regards as the uglier aspects of modern architecture have won him widespread public support, headed the list of most popular royals in the poll. Twenty-one percent of those questioned said he was their favorite.
Nineteen percent of respondents said Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Charles' 88-year-old grandmother, was their favorite; 17 percent favored his 38-year-old sister Princess Anne; 12 percent liked his 27-year-old wife Princess Diana best; and 11 percent liked the queen most.
Despite support for the monarchy, 40 percent of respondents said they thought the $9.45 million in taxpayers' money paid last year to support the royals was too much.
The queen has a personal fortune estimated earlier this year by London's Money Magazine at $6 billion. But she and some other royals also receive an annual grant of taxpayers' money to help them with the cost of their official duties.
The poll was based on interviews with 918 people around Britain. It stated no margin of error.