King Charles III is Britain's head of state, and an 8 million-pound scheme to hang his official portrait in government buildings was released in April 2023. But the plan has not gone well with many Britons, including Graham Smith, the head of the anti-monarchy group Republic, who calls the roll-out a "shameful waste of money."
"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," he shared before adding, "The government has lost the plot if they think people want their money spent on pictures of Charles. They need to scrap this scheme and direct the money where it’s really needed."
Charles III's official portrait was taken by photographer Hugo Burnand at Windsor Castle in 2023. It depicts His Majesty smiling while wearing his Royal Navy Admiral of the Fleet uniform.
In the spring of last year, seven months after the King's accession to the throne, the British Cabinet Office stated: "Official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II are currently on display in many public institutions, and the offering of the new official portrait of King Charles III will enable organizations across the U.K. to carry on that tradition."
But the cost associated with replicating possibly hundreds of the portraits also angered many, who took to social media to vent their frustrations.
"I'm sure this £8 million could be better spent on hungry children, cold pensioners, or veterans struggling on the streets," a critic stated, while someone else chimed in with: "What a waste; they could use this money to do some good instead."
Another critic of the scheme observed: "Your kids' schools may have had their funding slashed under the Tories, but at least they’ve found £8 million of your money to put up a picture of King Charles in the canteen."
The government's response was one of pride in acknowledging the head of state's position and authority.
"The accession of His Majesty The King marked a new chapter in our national story," said Oliver Dowden, the Deputy Prime Minister of the U.K. "Displaying this new portrait will serve as a reminder to us all of the example set by our ultimate public servant, and I hope as many eligible organizations as possible will wish to continue this proud British tradition and honor our king's reign."
Displaying official portraits of the monarch has long been a standard tradition once they ascend the British throne, with regular updates to the images as the sovereign ages. This is also a tradition for public offices in other nations, such as the United States, which displays a portrait of the sitting president in government buildings around the nation.
GBN reported on Smith's statement.