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Gallup Polls In Britain And U.S. Record Public Reaction To Diana's Death

Gallup Polls In Britain And U.S. Record Public Reaction To Diana's Death

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup surveys conducted in Great Britain and the United States on Thursday evening recorded somewhat different views over who is most to blame for Princess Diana's fatal car crash in Paris last week. Over 70% of the citizens of the two countries say both the driver of Diana's car and the photographers who were following it were either "extremely" or "very" responsible for the accident. However, the British are more likely than the Americans to assign "extreme" responsibility to the photographers.

Among Americans 45% assign "extreme" blame to the driver and only 32% to the photographers. In Europe the figures are nearly reversed: 43% to the photographers and only 33% to the driver.

Apart from the issue of blame, British and American adults hold similar opinions on several issues surrounding Diana's death, including the Royal Family and tabloid journalism. The balance of opinion toward Prince Charles tilts negative in both countries, while his son and heir to the throne, Prince William, is widely popular. The Queen, who has come under intense criticism in the British press for her handling of Diana's death, is nevertheless viewed in solidly positive terms by the British people, with 62% having a favorable view and only 32% unfavorable. In the U.S., opinion of the Queen is more mixed, with 47% holding a favorable and 40% an unfavorable view.

Paparazzi Under the Lens
The American and British people have very similar views about the tabloid press, with most of those interviewed in each country saying that celebrities deserve more privacy, and indicating support for stronger laws to protect them.

Since the accident, Hollywood has come out swinging against the tabloid press and the paparazzi who provide the tabloids with candid celebrity photos. In spite of the public's apparent interest in celebrity news, American and British adults are highly sympathetic to celebrities' pleas for privacy. Eight out of ten U.S. and British adults say that protecting the privacy of celebrities is more important than protecting the public's right to information about celebrities. Also, a majority in both countries believe celebrities deserve special legal protection from photographers, rather than the opposing view that dealing with photographers is the price celebrities must pay for being famous.

But when asked to choose the best approach for dealing with the tabloids, taking into account the freedoms enjoyed by individuals and the press (such as First Amendment rights in the U.S.), only 39% of Americans say passing stronger laws is the best approach, compared to 54% of the British. Americans are more likely to want changes in tabloid coverage of celebrities to come about through public pressure including boycotts -- an approach chosen by 45% in the U.S., compared to only 36% in England.

Diana's Death a Personal One for Many
The parallel U.S. and U.K. Gallup surveys suggest that the loss of Diana is a personal one for much of the public. Fully half of British adults say they feel as upset about her death as they would if someone they knew had died; 27% of Americans feel this strongly. Most of the rest say they are sad about her death, but not in the way they would be if they knew the person.

The surveys show that Diana was most admired for her work on behalf of charities and other causes. Second in importance was her ability to identify with ordinary people. The manner in which she raised her children and her personal glamour rank as far less important factors in people's positive impressions of her.

No doubt Diana's recent efforts to remove and ban land-mines throughout the world contributed to admiration for her charitable work. In fact, a substantial majority of citizens in both the U.S. and the U.K. -- 63% and 79% respectively -- would like to see Diana receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts on this issue.

Diana's Fans Among Women Are Legion
Thirty-eight percent of American men, but fully 63% of American women considered themselves "fans" of Princess Diana. Among women, she was more widely admired by women under 50 than those 50 and older, 67% vs. 59%. But for the most part her appeal crossed age, race, and education boundaries in the United States.

Based on their personal reaction to Diana's death (whether or not respondents felt "upset"), it appears that in England Princess Diana was most popular with women, working class families, and British adults over the age of 50.

METHODOLOGY
The results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of approximately 638 adults aged 18 and over in the United States, and 616 adults aged 16 and over in the United Kingdom, including England, Scotland and Wales.

Interviews in both countries were conducted the early evening on Thursday, September 4. The margin of sampling error for results from each country is plus or minus four percentage points. In addition to sampling error, difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

How would you describe the reaction you had to Diana's death when you first heard about it -- were you as upset as if someone you knew personally had died, or were you, sad, but not as upset as if it were someone you personally knew?

  U.S. U.K.
Upset 27% 50%
Sad, but not upset 66 46
Not sad (vol.) 6 2
No opinion 1 1
  ___
100%
___
99%*
* Note: U.K. totals may not add to 100% due to rounding

Which of the following qualities about Diana did you, personally, admire the most: her glamour, looks, and style; her work on behalf of charities and other causes; how she raised her children; her ability to identify with ordinary people? (RANDOM ORDER)

  U.S. U.K.
Work on behalf of charities 37% 39%
Ability to identify with people 26 33
How she raised her children 14 9
Glamour, looks, and style 6 3
Can't choose/more than one (vol.) 12 14
Other (vol.) 1 1
None (vol.) 2 2
No opinion 2 *
  ___
100%
___
101%
* Less than 0.5%

From everything you've heard or read about the accident, how responsible do you feel each of the following factors was for Diana's car accident -- extremely responsible, very responsible, not too responsible, or not responsible at all. First, the photographers who were following Diana's car; the man who was driving Diana's car. (ROTATED) Next, the tabloid press generally, which regularly prints pictures of Diana and other celebrities; the public, for buying the tabloid newspapers which carry pictures of Diana and other celebrities; Dodi Fayed, Diana's companion who was in the car? (RANDOM ORDER)

  U.S. U.K.
Photographers
Extremely 32% 43%
Very 40 37
Not too 16 10
Not at all 7 5
No opinion 5 5
  ___
100%
___
100%
 
Chauffeur
Extremely 45% 33%
Very 34 38
Not too 9 13
Not at all 6 7
No opinion 6 9
  ___
100%
___
100%
 
Tabloids
Extremely 25% 28%
Very 35 36
Not too 21 23
Not at all 13 8
No opinion 6 5
  ___
100%
___
100%
 
Public
Extremely 19% 15%
Very 31 33
Not too 25 27
Not at all 19 19
No opinion 6 5
  ___
100%
___
99%
 
Dodi Fayed
Extremely 6 na
Very 12 na
Not too 23 na
Not at all 46 na
No opinion 13 na
  ___
100%
___
na
 

Lydia Saad is a Senior Editor at Gallup.

Gallup

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