King Charles has been Australia’s monarch for over a year, but the federal government and eager citizens are still waiting for Buckingham Palace to send an official portrait. The delay is affecting those who registered their interest in receiving photos to replace displays of Queen Elizabeth, as part of the nationhood material program.
Under this program, all Australian voters are eligible to request a portrait of the king or queen through their federal MP. Buckingham Palace initially provided an “interim” portrait of King Charles, but the federal government is waiting for an official Australian portrait to distribute to interested citizens and government buildings.
While Charles’s interim portrait can be used for official purposes, the nationhood material program requires a specific Australian portrait. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had announced that an Australian portrait of Charles would be finalized after the Queen’s death in September 2022.
Local MPs are maintaining lists of constituents eager to receive the new portrait, with the decision to display it left to individual public agencies or buildings. Parliamentarians can use their office budgets to purchase approved official portraits for constituents, with some MPs noting significant interest from community groups, retirement homes, scout halls, CWA groups, and schools.
The expenditure on portraits and nationhood material is disclosed in MPs’ regular expense reports, categorized as “office consumables.” The media recently reported that the British government is funding a scheme to provide new official portraits of the King to public buildings in the UK.
Supporters of monarchy portraits argue that they symbolize unity and the crown’s non-political nature. However, critics, including the Australian Republic Movement, argue that public funds would be better spent celebrating national symbols and figures rather than those of a foreign nation. The delay in receiving the official portrait has sparked discussions about the allocation of specific budgets and estimates for the number of portraits requested or distributed.