The monarch, who is already above the UK's retirement age, has been dubbed 'part-time King' after having a 'stable but insignificant' 12 months on the throne.
King Charles, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, has recently become the focal point of criticism regarding his level of engagement and work ethic since ascending the throne. This scrutiny has ignited a spirited debate over the role of the monarchy and the expectations placed on the royal family.
King Charles's workload and engagements
According to The Express, since the Queen's funeral in September of the previous year, King Charles has undertaken an estimated 257 engagements. These engagements, meticulously analyzed by Republic - a prominent anti-monarchy campaign group, have raised eyebrows for several reasons.
Out of the total, a mere 40 were categorized as traditional public visits, where the King interacted directly with members of the public. A significantly larger portion, over 60 engagements, were characterized as 'receiving' people, which often included military officers, diplomats, bishops, and senior politicians. Remarkably, these engagements were found to typically last for just 20 minutes.
Moreover, the analysis unearthed a concerning practice in the counting of engagements. The number is sometimes inflated, as single events are recorded as multiple engagements. A prime example of this was a visit to Colchester in March, during which various activities took place within a relatively short timeframe, contributing to the distortion of the engagement figures.
The London Economic writes that Republic has been at the forefront of critiquing King Charles's workload and engagement patterns. CEO Graham Smith vehemently argues that despite reports suggesting Charles worked on 161 days over the past year, he only 'works less than seven weeks' of full-time work in a year,
Smith points out that Charles often has weeks where he has engagements on just one or two days, leading to extensive periods of downtime. He further contends that the royal family's activities frequently involve formal, regimented meetings, attendance at church services, or the pursuit of personal interests, which may not conform to the common understanding of 'work.' Smith said bluntly:
'It's rare Charles will do a five-day week, quite often weeks go by where he has engagements on just one or two days. There are long stretches of downtime. For the most part, he simply goes through the motions of carrying out regimented, formal meetings, attending church services or pursuing his own interests.'
One of the key concerns raised by Smith is the financial cost to taxpayers. He notes that since the Queen's passing, more than £345 million of taxpayers' money has been expended on maintaining the monarchy. Furthermore, an additional £250 million was allocated for King Charles's coronation. This financial burden, coupled with an estimated £2 billion loss to the economy due to extra bank holidays and £220 million in unpaid inheritance tax, a huge bill for a 'part-time King who doesn't work':
'That's a huge bill to pay for a part-time King who doesn't work but attends, who has meetings but no real responsibilities. A full-time elected head of state, as they have in Ireland, would cost as little as £5m a year.'
Comparisons to previous monarchs
To provide a comprehensive perspective, it is vital to compare King Charles's first year as monarch to those of his predecessors. In terms of the number of days worked, King Charles does surpass Queen Elizabeth II (who got 157 days of engagements) during her initial year on the throne. However, it's crucial to emphasize that this statistic alone doesn't paint the full picture.
Furthermore, King Charles falls short when compared to the engagement count of King George VI in his first year as monarch, who managed an impressive 183 days of official engagements.