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Multimillion-pound coronation ‘a slap in face amid cost-of-living crisis’

26 Apr 2023 5 minute read
King Charles III and the Queen Consort attending the Royal Maundy Service at York Minster. Photo Charlotte Graham/Daily Telegraph

The King’s coronation is set to cost many millions – and it falls to taxpayers to foot the bill.

But with no budget revealed for the historic national state occasion, and the Government not commenting on the expected total cost, the amount of public funds due to be spent remains unknown.

Some predictions suggest Operation Golden Orb – the crowning of Charles III and the Queen Consort – could cost between £50-100 million.

The late Elizabeth II’s coronation cost £912,000 in 1953 – £20.5 million in today’s money – while Charles’s grandfather George VI was crowned at a cost of £454,000 in 1937 – worth £24.8 million in 2023 and the most expensive coronation of the last 300 years.

Taking place amid the cost-of-living crisis facing the UK and against a backdrop of strikes by doctors, teachers and other public servants over pay, the King’s coronation has been branded a waste of taxpayers’ money by critics.

More than half of Britons do not think it should be funded by the Government, a poll has suggested.

The YouGov survey found 51% of adults questioned believe the ceremony should not be funded by the Government.

Almost a third – 32% – said it should, while around 18% did not know.

Expensive pantomime

Graham Smith, chief executive of campaign group Republic, said: “Charles is already king. There is absolutely no need to go through with this expensive pantomime.”

“At a cost of tens of millions of pounds, this pointless piece of theatre is a slap in the face for millions of people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis,” he added.

The Guardian’s research into Charles’s wealth has suggested the King has an estimated personal fortune of £1.8 billion.

Labour’s Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, called for a House of Commons debate on the amount of public money being spent on the coronation given the difficult economic times.

“The King has a reported personal fortune of £1.8 billion, and given the monarch already benefits from not paying inheritance tax, it’s easy to see why so many people are not happy with this,” he said.

As with Jubilees and other such events, it is understood the total cost and breakdown of funding will not be available until after the May 6 event.

Value

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden has insisted the King and the Government are “mindful of ensuring that there is value for the taxpayer” and there will not be “lavishness or excess”.

But Mr Dowden also told the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee at the start of the year: “It is a marvellous moment in our history and people would not want a dour scrimping and scraping.”

Scottish National Party MP Ronnie Cowan for Inverclyde highlighted the cost-of-living challenges, saying: “One in four people in my constituency, including children, are living in poverty.

“People live in damp houses. People struggle to pay their electricity bills right now, on the back of Covid and Brexit.

“What evidence do you have that they think the UK Government should pay for this coronation?”

Mr Dowden – MP for Hertsmere – replied that the Government always pays for coronations and it was important to mark the coronation properly.

He added: “In my own constituency, which may be different to yours, Mr Cowan, people say to me that they expect the King to have a proper coronation, and that is what he will have.”

George IV’s coronation in 1821 was a great theatrical spectacle and the former Prince Regent, known for his extravagance, spent vast sums of money on it – £238,000 – or £20.9 million in today’s money.

His successor, William IV, had to be persuaded to have a coronation at all in 1831 and spent so little money that it became known as “the Penny Coronation” – with the bill coming to around £43,000 – worth £3.6 million today.

It did establish much of the format that remains for British coronations today with a procession in the Gold State Coach to the Abbey, but he refused to have a coronation banquet as he considered it too expensive.

Queen Victoria’s coronation festivities in 1838 were a much grander affair than her uncle’s, with three state balls, two court receptions, a drawing room and state concert, and a public procession to the Abbey.

Parliament spent around £69,000 – £6.2 million in today’s money – on the 19-year-old’s celebrations.

Socialist MP Keir Hardie – the first leader of the Labour Party in the UK parliament – condemned George V’s 1911 coronation, which cost £185,000 or £17.4 million today, as “an orgy for the display of wealth and senseless spending”.

Support

Monarchs have sometimes sought to offer support to those in need around the time of their coronations.

For Queen Victoria’s, extra rations of beef were distributed to workhouses and prisons, while on behalf of George VI in 1937, a special welfare payment was made to the unemployed, but this was not repeated in 1953.

In April, it was revealed that an £8 million government-funded scheme was giving public authorities the chance to claim a free portrait of Charles III.

Councils, courts, schools, police forces and fire and rescue services are among the UK institutions which will be offered a new official portrait photograph.

But Republic called the move a “shameful waste of money”.

Security costs will also form a major part of the cost of the coronation.

The bill for policing the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011 was £6.3 million, while the cost of the police operation for the then-US president Donald Trump’s four-day visit to the UK in 2018 was more than £14 million.

Downing Street and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on the cost of the coronation.


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Mawkernewek
9 months ago

I don’t think the cost of the coronation is the overriding argument, because monarchists could counter that it might be more expensive to have a presidential inauguration every 4 years, although the presidency wouldn’t necessarily have to be a big and expensive one on the American model.

Shân Morgain
9 months ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

No need at all. Just a formal occasion in Parliament put on TV.

Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs
9 months ago

Most Heads of State just sign a book and give a short speech. This parasite has to be anointed in oil and ferried in a golden carriage, all at the taxpayers expense. But at least his son visits food banks for some good photo opportunities.

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago

Most of our impoverished souls remain perversely loyal to Carlo and his dame. The panto cum carnival will be deemed a great success by a whole host of opinion manipulators paraded by the MSM. Very sad, innit?

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
9 months ago

Absolutely beyond despicable, that they would spend, and try to justify, that much public money on a fancy hat ceremony for one of the world’s richest men – and the sycophants – while millions of others are struggling to heat their homes or feed their kids. This spits in the face of the less wealthy.

Riki
Riki
9 months ago

That really isn’t my concern… the true concern is how and why we still have Huns claiming to be British monarchs. They are monarchs of England, The ending of one monarchy doesn’t mean another can then claim the title of said Monarchy. The legitimate British monarchy ended with Iestyn Ap Gwrgan in the 11th century. Everyone claiming to British since are really in fact have only ever been English, Scottish, German, Greek, etc. even the Tudors had no right to call their monarchy of England “British”.

stuart stanton
stuart stanton
9 months ago
Reply to  Riki

and the ‘brexiteers’ are championing the monarchy. Work that one out…..

stuart stanton
stuart stanton
9 months ago

King Jug -Ears I

Llyn
Llyn
9 months ago

All this money going to celebrate a billionaire’s coronation and Andrew RT Davies is campaigning daily to prevent Welsh orphans from having funds to help them make a good start in adult life.

Frank
Frank
9 months ago

I would have liked to see money collection boxes posted around the UK a few months ago so that only the royalists would foot the cost. This way we could also see how many people are really in favour of a monarchy as they would have us believe are many. I wonder how much would have been collected? I still think the minority are calling the shots. We are like lambs to the slaughter. Only the UK puts up with such nonsense. Intelligent countries would rebel.

Shân Morgain
9 months ago

I can understand that there are people who want to have a big pantomime with coach horses costumes regalia and ceremonies. Lots of fun for some. But why should others pay for it? I don’t pay for my neighbours to take their kids to see Aladdin or Cinderella. I don’t see why I am expected to pay for this. Those who want to go should buy tickets to fund it and Charles should pay at least half. It’s his graduation ceremony and he can well afford it.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
9 months ago

Their party. They should pay!

Frank
Frank
9 months ago

The cost will be taken from the taxpayer without even asking. Why do we just lay back and do absolutely nowt about it?

David Charles pearn
David Charles pearn
9 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Because Frank were expected to follow England on everything THEY decide we will never have a voice until we get out from westmonster.

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