The government have offered all public bodies free portraits of Charles III – at an £8 million cost to taxpayers. The decision has been announced in the run up to Charles’s coronation on May 6. Considering the United Kingdom’s current cost of living crisis, the move has not been warmly welcomed by all.
Oliver Dowden, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, defended the government’s decision:
“I know people across the nation will want the chance to pay tribute to our new monarch.
One of the best things about this country is that we wear our patriotism lightly, but with real pride.”
However, the £8 million price tag for this ‘light’ display of patriotism is proving too excessive for some. One twitter user was vocal with their criticism:
“Disgusting waste of money in the middle of a cost of living crisis, £8 million just to give all public bodies a portrait of Charlie. These people don't live in the real world.”
With the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggesting that over a third of adults are struggling to afford rent or mortgage payments, the cost of living is at the forefront of many people’s minds.
Dowden insists, however, that the portraits will be a welcome addition to those working in public buildings:
“Many of the people working in these buildings feel a real sense of civic duty and pride. Firefighters, police officers, teachers: they know they are there to serve the public and their country.”
YouGov reports that Charles is liked by 55% of the UK. Whilst this is still a majority, it raises questions over if the 45% who either dislike or are neutral towards him should be forced to see their tax money used for portraits of him. Even those who do support him may not support the use of taxpayer’s money in such a manner, especially given the current climate.
However, the government do not seem to be showing any signs of wavering in their decision. So, it remains to be seen what the true impact of these portraits will be. Perhaps they will, indeed, unite a divided nation at a particularly difficult period. Or, perhaps, they will prove to be a sign of the UK’s leadership being out of touch.
Edited by: Fahima
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