The recent unveiling of an official portrait of King Charles III to adorn public buildings across Britain has proven contentious, with critics decrying the £8 million (a little more than US$10 million) scheme as an excessive waste of taxpayer funds.
Captured by photographer Hugo Burnand inside Windsor Castle, the portrait depicts Charles wearing full naval regalia in keeping with his role as Admiral of the Fleet.
While supporters argue the initiative upholds tradition, anti-monarchy campaigners have condemned the expenditure as ‘nonsense’ given current economic difficulties.
Controversy over costs
Central to objections is the price tag – attacked by Republic CEO Graham Smith as ‘a shameful waste of money’ better spent on struggling public services.
With taxes and cuts impacting councils and institutions like hospitals and schools, Smith contends ‘not even £1’ should be wasted on ‘pictures of Charles’.
Deputy PM Oliver Dowden meanwhile extols the portrait as a ‘proud British tradition’ that honors the King’s reign and public service.
The dispute underscores tensions over royal spending amid a cost-of-living crisis.
King Charles’s official portrait
Standing solemn-faced against Windsor Castle’s regal backdrop, the 75-year-old King grasps a sword in his left hand, the right resting on pristine white gloves atop an antique table.
Resplendent in his Royal Navy attire, the portrait captures Charles as Admiral of the Fleet, complete with an array of medals and decorations.
The image reflects his roles as Head of the Armed Forces and Lord High Admiral. Burnand also photographed Charles’ 2005 wedding to Queen Camilla.
The rollout across the United Kingdom
The Cabinet Office has invited various public bodies like councils, courts, and police to apply for a free framed copy of the portrait.
Continuing the long tradition of displaying images of the monarch, the scheme will extend further to include town councils, community groups, and cadet forces.
With delivery running from February to April, the initiative aims at ‘strengthening civic pride’ and marking this ‘new era’ in British history.
Yet Republic insists most people don’t want taxes funding ‘pictures of Charles’ when local services require investment.