LONDON  - The number of Britons who believe Queen Elizabeth II should hand over to Prince Charles before her death has increased, although a majority still think she should reign for life, an opinion poll found on Sunday.

Some 53 per cent of voters said the 87-year-old monarch should resist any calls to abdicate, a decrease from 64pc in March, the YouGov survey found. Some 33pc said she should consider stepping down at some stage.

The queen, who celebrated 60 years on the British throne last year, has begun handing over some of her duties to younger members of the royal family. It was announced last week that Prince Charles would attend Nov's Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka in his mother's place, the first time she will have missed such a summit for four decades. The queen was forced to cancel public engagements earlier this year after she came down with suspected gastroenteritis and was hospitalised for the first time in a decade.