Royal Family 'more vulnerable on money' than anything else, warns former MP
King Charles's coronation is a matter of weeks away and it is still not clear how lavish the ceremony will be— nor how much it will cost.
Last week, an unsubstantiated report in the Sun — attributing a "source" — claimed the 6 May event could cost as much as £100m, though worldwide broadcast rights would reportedly more than cover this.
But at a time when the cost of living crisis remains very stark, a lavish ceremony full of pomp and grandeur could be seen as being at odds with the challenges faced by millions of households.
Norman Baker, a former MP and author of …And What Do You Do?: What The Royal Family Don't Want You To Know, believes it is this issue of finances where the Royal Family is most exposed.
"In my view the Royal Family is more vulnerable on money than anything else," he told Yahoo. "They have a mindset that they’re entitled to anything, that they should gather as much as possible from the public purse. They’re exempt from the normal rules that apply to everybody else.
"If someone has to pay for something they’ll get someone else to pay, Charles is of that mind too, which is why he gets all these freebies from people. It’s a very self-serving route – it’s also a dangerous route for them."
The start of Charles's reign has been beset by controversies including the continued fall-out around Prince Andrew's fall from grace and allegations of internal dysfunction within the family by Harry and Meghan.
And the impact can been seen on the royals' popularity.
A YouGov poll shortly after Queen Elizabeth II 's death showed that the vast majority of people (84%) viewed her as having done a "good job" – but the numbers elsewhere were less than positive.
The survey, which asked a series of questions about the royals, showed that a minority of people (39%) think there will still be a monarchy in 100 years' time and, most concerning for Charles, only 57% think he will do a "good job" — far below that of his mother.
On every question, younger people had a more negative view of the royals.
Baker, an MP for 18 years and privy councillor, warned that Charles in particular could face accusations of being out of touch with wider public sentiment.
"Charles would be very, very wise to have a very scaled down coronation," he said. "He needs to understand that there are serious issues to be answered about the way that the Royal Family accumulates and uses public money and he hasn’t come anywhere near to answering those yet."
The author added that the public are likely to be “less reverent by any stretch of the imagination” about the coronation, compared to Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral last September.
Baker also noted the difference between how the late Queen was viewed by the public compared to her son, saying of recent protests: “I don’t think anyone ever threw an egg at the Queen, but Charles has been getting some of that already.”
Baker added: “It’s perfectly legitimate in a democracy for people to object to people in positions of power; that's part of what democracy should be about. There’s a long tradition of that in this country.
“Not just in general but the Royal Family as well, so in a sense the Queen’s reign was an aberration, [...] that there was no real strong objection to her.”
“She seemed non-threatening, but she was also elderly and people think she did her best and all that sort of stuff so no one really wants to take it on. You know, I think what the Queen did was protect the Royal Family from themselves to a large degree and now she’s gone, all those excesses which were always there but were covered up by her are now rather more visible.”
Watch: The Royal Family's biggest spending sprees