UK government unveils £8 million initiative to replace late Queen's portrait with King Charles'

Monday, April 3, 2023

L-R: Charles in Hamburg Friday beside German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his wife Elke Büdenbender and Camilla.
Image: Minzoblate.

Under a scheme announced Saturday by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden, public authorities in the United Kingdom would "later this year" be able to request a free portrait of King Charles III to replace those of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Dowden said eligible buildings will include courts, schools, local councils and police and fire stations, where "I am sure they will take pride of place".

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, he said: "For decades, public buildings have quietly displayed images of the Queen, as a reminder of her role as our most steadfast public servant.

"Now, as a new reign starts, we're making sure schools, town halls and other public buildings can continue this by offering them a new portrait of the King, fully funded by the Government."

While he touted the £8 million initiative as "a fitting tribute to our new sovereign" in a separate statement, chief executive of anti-monarchy group Republic Graham Smith called it a "shameful waste of money".

Accusing ministers of having "lost the plot", he argued: "At a time when a majority of local councils are raising taxes and cutting public services, when schools and hospitals are struggling, to spend even £1 on this nonsense would be £1 too much."

A Cabinet Office source told Daily Mail the list of eligible institutions will be released after Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are coronated on May 6 and their official portraits released by Buckingham Palace.

Smith urged the Cabinet Office "to scrap this scheme and direct the money where it’s really needed."

Meanwhile, John Glen, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said "these new portraits continue a very British tradition to celebrate this momentous occasion [of the coronation]."

Although plans are for the ceremony to be shorter, a source with the committee responsible for planning it told The Sun on February 19 even a 'slimmed down coronation' might cost £100 million, but would be offset by "worldwide TV rights" and tourism.

Smith called the cost for the coronation "scandalous".