Demos: Britons more proud of the National Trust than the Royal Family

Shakespeare and the National Trust top a poll on symbols that inspire a sense of pride in the British public, beating the pound, the Monarchy and the BBC.

The poll of over 2,000 British citizens was carried out just five days after this year’s Royal Wedding. Despite this, just 33 per cent of respondents strongly agreed that they were proud of the monarchy.

Parliament and the legal system came bottom of the table, with just 47 per cent of respondents agreeing with the sentence “I am proud of Parliament as a symbol of Britain” and 51 per cent agreeing with the statement “I am proud of the legal system as a symbol of Britain”.

Participants were asked whether they agreed that they are proud of the following things as symbols of Britain:

Shakespeare 75% agree

National Trust 72% agree

Armed Forces 72% agree

Union Jack 71% agree

The Pound 70% agree

NHS 69% agree

The Monarchy 68% agree

BBC 63% agree

Sporting achievements 58% agree

The Beatles 51% agree

The legal system 51% agree

Parliament 47% agree


A Place for Pride, published tomorrow by Demos found that volunteering was the single most important factor influencing how patriotic people are, leading Demos to recommend the introduction of at least 16 hours of accredited volunteering as a ‘practical’ element of the Life in the UK citizenship test.

Only 1 in 4 of those who ‘strongly agree’ with the statement ‘I am proud to be a British citizen’ have never volunteered, compared to 2 in 5 who have volunteered in the last 12 months.

If someone has volunteered in the last 12 months there is a 35 per cent chance that they strongly agree with the statement ‘I am proud to be a British citizen’, compared to a 29 per cent chance for those who haven’t volunteered in the past year. People who volunteer are also more optimistic than those who do not – 27 per cent of people who have volunteered in the past year disagree with the statement ‘Britain’s best days are behind her’, compared to 19 per cent of those who haven’t.

The report stresses the need for a citizenship programme that promotes learning by action and engagement rather than learning by rote.  Polling found high support for a citizenship test, but support was higher when the test included an element about values – 82 per cent of respondents agreed that the citizenship test should include a ‘values test’.

Max Wind-Cowie, author of the report said:

“Gaining citizenship without a volunteering element is like getting a drivers’ licence after only passing the theory test. Britishness is more about what you do than what you know.  What makes people feel British is not a high-profile wedding or an ad campaign – fun as these may be.  It’s a sense of community, of manners and of looking out for each other.

“Modern patriotism comes from the grassroots, driven by people who volunteer and who are proud of their families and communities.  This sense of pride in Britain is not something that can be learnt through a text book. As a rule, politicians don’t ‘get’ patriotism – their efforts are more likely to alienate than inspire.  But the Government is right to look to the Big Society rather than citizenship tests to strengthen national cohesion.

“The level of pride in the Royal Family was lower that we’d expected, having anticipated a bump of support following Prince William’s wedding. But it once again shows that although people are affectionate towards the Monarchy, they do not see it as having a direct effect on their everyday lives.”


Amy Philip, deputy director of the Pears Foundation said: 

“Clearly national identity and pride a complex issues but it is instructive to see the role that volunteering plays in increasing levels of pride in the UK, and points to the need for us to do more to encourage even greater levels of volunteering in communities.”


Notes to Editors

Demos commissioned YouGov to carry out a representative poll of 2,086 British Citizens between 4 and 9 May 2011.

The full results of the poll and an advance copy of the report can be requested from

Further findings from the poll include:

About themselves

Respondents were more likely to take pride in the things that were closest to them – for instance their family and home – than in the ‘nation’ more generally. The following percentages agreed with each statement:

  • 87% ‘I am proud of my family’.
  • 77% ‘I am proud of my friends’.
  • 62% ‘I am proud of my work’.
  • 51% ‘I am proud of my appearance’.
  • 44% ‘I am proud of my local community’.
  • 72% ‘I am proud of my home’.
  • 60% ‘I am proud of my ethnic group’.
  • 55% ‘I am proud of my possessions’.
  • 55% ‘I am proud of my contribution to society’.
  • 80% ‘I am proud of my attitude to others’.
  • 90% ‘I am proud of my values’.
  • 70% ‘I am proud of my taste in things’.
  • 79% ‘I am proud of my knowledge/intelligence’.

About Britain

  • 79% ‘I am proud to be a British citizen’.
  • 81% ‘I am proud of how Britain looks (eg landscape, architecture and style)’.
  • 74% ‘I am proud of British culture’.
  • 72% ‘I am proud of British history’.
  • 59% ‘I am proud of British people’.
  • 52% ‘I am proud of how Britain treats people who have different lifestyles’.
  • 51% ‘I am proud of Britain’s role in the world’.
  • 46% ‘I am proud of how Britain treats gay people’.

Two thirds of British people have volunteered at some point in the last year.

A Place for Pride by Max Wind-Cowie and Thomas Gregory is published by Demos on Monday 22 November 2011.

This report was funded by the Pears Foundation.


Media contact:

Beatrice Karol Burks

020 7367 6325

079 2947 4938


A note on coverage of A Place for Pride:

On Monday the 21st of November, Demos published A Place for Pride - a report about patriotism which built on a series of focus groups and a YouGov poll of 2086 British people. 

One of the press releases accompanying the launch of that report made reference to the fact that 83 per cent of Muslims covered by the poll responded that they were 'proud to be a British citizen', comparing that figure to a baseline - drawn from the whole sample - of 79 per cent. This aspect of the Demos report was widely reported in the press.

It is true that this finding, accompanied in the research report by findings from focus groups in which British Muslims participated, is broadly in line with previous polling evidence on the matter.

It should be noted, however, that the sample size for British Muslims was relatively small, just 48 people, and it is questionable whether confident statements can be made on that basis about one group being more proud of their British identity than another (as we saw in some of the press coverage). The more relevant point, stressed in the Demos report, is that people who declare a faith are more likely to be proud of their British identity than the population at large which argues that we should not perceive minority faiths as potential threats to either cohesion or patriotism.