New portrait of the King set for council offices, courts and schools unveiled

A new, official portrait of the King has been unveiled – ahead of being hung in buildings across the UK as part of an £8m government-funded scheme.

The photograph shows the King in his full military regalia, wearing his Royal Navy uniform - as he is an admiral of the fleet - and an abundance of medals and decorations.

His pristine white gloves and hat can be seen on an antique table and, in his left hand, he grasps a sword.

The monarch was photographed in the Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle last year by Hugo Burnand, who also took the King and Queen's coronation portraits and 2005 wedding photos.

Councils, courts, schools, police forces and fire and rescue services are among the UK institutions that can apply to receive the framed portrait for free.

An anti-monarchy campaign group branded the initiative a "shameful waste of money" when it was announced before the coronation last year, but the Cabinet Office has said the move continues a tradition.

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 also said the government "has lost the plot if they think people want their money spent on pictures of Charles", calling for the scheme to be scrapped and the money directed "where it's really needed".

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has said that "displaying this new portrait will serve as a reminder to us all of the example set by our ultimate public servant".

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A Cabinet Office statement said: "The UK government considers it right that public authorities, as part of the fabric of our nation, have the opportunity to commemorate this moment [the King's ascension], strengthen civil pride and reflect the new era in our history."

The scheme will be extended to include town, parish and community councils and Ministry of Defence-sponsored cadet forces in February with all portraits expected to be delivered between February and April this year.