King’s portrait to be hung in schools and courts ‘to boost civic pride’

A new official portrait of King Charles III will soon hang in public buildings across the UK as part of a Government-funded scheme
A new official portrait of King Charles III will soon hang in public buildings across the UK as part of a Government-funded scheme - HUGO BURNAND/ ROYAL HOUSEHOLD 2024/CABINET OFFICE/PA
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A new official portrait of the King in naval uniform will be hung in schools, council buildings and courtrooms in an effort to boost “civic pride”.

The photograph was taken last November at Windsor Castle by favoured society photographer Hugo Burnand.

It depicts the King wearing his Royal Navy uniform as an Admiral of the Fleet, complete with an abundance of official medals and decorations.

The portraits will replace those of Elizabeth II at public institutions up and down the country.

The portrait was taken at Windsor Castle last year by Hugo Burnand
The portrait was taken at Windsor Castle last year by Hugo Burnand - HUGO BURNAND/ ROYAL HOUSEHOLD 2024/CABINET OFFICE/PA

The Cabinet Office announced last April that bodies such as prisons and police stations could apply for a free, framed portrait of the King as part of an £8 million Government-funded scheme to “celebrate his new reign.”

Oliver Dowden, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the initiative was designed to “strengthen civic pride” and to “to remember what unites us”.

However, it drew criticism from many, who suggested the Government had “lost the plot” by spending so much money on portraits during a cost of living crisis.

Although it is a Cabinet Office initiative, the image was chosen personally by the King, 75.

It shows the monarch standing in Windsor Castle’s Grand Corridor. He is resting his right hand on white gloves, which are positioned next to his naval cap on an antique wooden table. In his left hand is his sword.

Mr Burnand, who took official portraits of the King and Queen last March as well as the official Coronation portraits in May, said he hoped the formality of the setting and the uniform would contrast with the King’s relaxed stance.

“I tried to structure the picture to get a sense of the history behind him, with that corridor,” he told The Telegraph.

“But at the same time, it’s as if he is looking to the future and being lit by the next window.”

King George VI (1895-1952) by artist Captain P North
King George VI (1895-1952) in around 1936 by artist Captain P North - PRINT COLLECTOR/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

Mr Burnand said he had taken inspiration from both military and royal portraits.

He added: “There’s definitely a nod to classical portraits throughout the centuries - not just photographs but oil paintings as well.

“There’s a lot of formality within it but I hope he looks fairly relaxed, therefore you are engaged with him as the viewer.”

The portrait session ended an incredible year for Mr Burnand, who had shot the King on three separate occasions.

The photographer has built up a rapport with both the King and Queen, having been responsible for their official wedding portraits in 2005. Familiarity, he said, was important.

“I know some of the things he likes and dislikes and he knows some of the things I like and dislike,” he said of the King.

“Consequently, quite a lot doesn’t need to be verbalised. It means when I’m taking the picture we are in a familiar place.”

King George V's official portrait photograph of 1935, depicted in full dress uniform
King George V's official portrait photograph of 1935, depicted in full dress uniform - CULTURE CLUB/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

The Government “considers it right” that public authorities, as part of the fabric of our nation, have the opportunity to commemorate the change of reign and reflect the new era in British history.

It is hoped that the new portrait will allow organisations that have long displayed a photograph of the late Queen to carry on that tradition.

Sources insisted that there was no obligation or expectation for them to remove portraits of the Queen.

Mr 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.”

Anti-monarchist group Republic last year branded the scheme a “shameful waste of money,” adding: “The government has lost the plot if they think that people want their money spent on pictures of Charles.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s city council leader Cammy Day said the millions earmarked for the initiative should instead be spent on “frontline services for councils”.

Ministers are said to hope that the scheme will offset republican sentiment in left-wing councils and universities.

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

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

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