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King Charles’ official portrait for public buildings unveiled

A new official portrait of King Charles in military regalia which will hang in public buildings across the UK as part of a controversial £8million government-funded scheme has been unveiled.

The picture shows the monarch wearing his Royal Navy uniform as an Admiral of the Fleet with medals and honours on display.

It was captured last year by photographer Hugo Burnand, who also took the King and Queen’s coronation portraits and their 2005 wedding photos, and will replace those of Queen Elizabeth II at public institutions up and down the country.

But there were criticisms last year when the Cabinet Office revealed the portrait scheme’s £8m budget.

The image was captured by Hugo Burnand who also took the King and Queen’s coronosation portraits and their 2005 wedding photos (Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2024/Cabinet Office/PA Wire)
The image was captured by Hugo Burnand who also took the King and Queen’s coronosation portraits and their 2005 wedding photos (Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2024/Cabinet Office/PA Wire)

Institutions across the UK are now able to apply to claim the formal, framed portrait of the monarch for free. Among those eligible to apply are councils, courts, schools, police forces and fire and rescue services.

In February, the scheme will be extended to include town, parish and community councils and Ministry of Defence-sponsored cadet forces.

The Cabinet Office said the move carries on the tradition which saw many institutions display official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II.

It said: “His Majesty’s accession has marked the beginning of a new reign and the UK Government considers it right that public authorities, as part of the fabric of our nation, have the opportunity to commemorate this moment, strengthen civil pride and reflect the new era in our history.”

But anti-monarchy campaign group Republic branded the initiative a “shameful waste of money” when it was announced ahead of the coronation last year.

Charles became King in September 2022 following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II (PA)
Charles became King in September 2022 following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II (PA)

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said: “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 added: “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.”

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said: “The accession of His Majesty The King marked a new chapter in our national story.

“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 organisations as possible will wish to continue this proud British tradition and honour our King‘s reign.”

On his Admiral of the Fleet (No. 1 Tailcoat), the King is wearing his Garter Collar and Sovereign’s badge and Garter Star, his Thistle Star, the Bath Sovereign’s badge, his Order of Merit, the Royal Victorian Order’s Royal Victorian Chain and GCVO Sash, as well as a host of medals on his medal bar.

The portraits are expected to be delivered between February and April this year.