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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Xander Elliards

'Patronising': Backlash as King brings up cost of living crisis in Christmas speech

KING Charles has sparked debate and criticism after he referenced the cost of living crisis in his Christmas broadcast – just days after rejecting the idea of a “cut-price coronation”.

The monarch – who took over from Queen Elizabeth upon her death in September – will be formally crowned on May 6, 2023. A source linked to the Operation Golden Orb committee, which plans the ceremony, told the Sun that costs could run to more than £100 million.

Charles was accused of having "badly misjudged the national mood" in the wake of reports that he had rejected the idea of having a cheaper ceremony, with similar accusations springing up after his Christmas Day speech.

Speaking on December 25 from what he called the “exquisite chapel of Saint George at Windsor Castle”, the king referenced “those at home finding ways to pay their bills to keep their families fed and warm” and paying “tribute to all those wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations”.

He noted that many people were going through "great anxiety and hardship", sparking an angry response in some quarters.

“If Charles cared so much for the homeless and hungry we're sure he'd rush to open the hundreds of empty rooms of his palaces to house them and dip into his £millions to feed them. He won't, because he doesn't,” campaign group Our Republic wrote.

Scottish Tory councillor Thomas Kerr praised the King’s speech, claiming it was “exactly what the country needed”, but was largely mocked.

The UK-wide campaign anti-monarchy campaign group Republic responded to Kerr: “Majority of the country didn’t see it and won’t. A lot will watch and pay little attention. The patronising idea that we need glib sentiments from a man ripping off the taxpayer and failing to live up to basic standards of public life is nonsense.”

NUS Scotland president Ellie Gomersall wrote of the King’s address: “How dare Charles Mountbatten-Windsor speak of the cost of living crisis mere days after demanding our money be spent on his pompous coronation.

“People across the UK are suffering in poverty while he sits on unimaginable wealth. He has no idea.”

And Plaid Cymru’s Brandon Ham echoed the sentiment, writing: “How dare he claim to sympathise with those struggling to feed their families and heat their homes, just days after demanding more money be spent on his pompous coronation.”

Many others also pointed to the fact that Charles did not pay any inheritance tax – which would have been levied at 40% on anything over £325,000 for anyone else – even on the private estates passed down to him by the former Queen.

However, Charles was also celebrated by some who saw his references to the “selfless dedication” of public sector workers as being tacitly supportive of the widespread strike action across the UK.

The King said that “our health and social care professionals, our teachers, and indeed all those working in public service whose skill and commitment are at the heart of our communities”.

Satirist Jolyon Rubinstein commented on Twitter: “Seeing a #kingsspeech that championed social capital, public sector workers and those who give their time is refreshing and clear blue water from this disgusting government. Pay these people what they are worth. Credit where credit is due.”

LBC presenter Sangita Myska wrote: “I swear King Charles in his Christmas speech just hinted the nurses and paramedics deserve a pay rise.”

And the i’s political commentator Paul Waugh added: “I can't be the only one to watch King Charles's speech and think 'ooh, that feels like a very deliberate message about recognising value of NHS staff, inc ambulance workers, on strike?'”

Rail workers employed by the UK Government-owned Network Rail were on strike for the second consecutive day on December 26, impacting on services both north and south of the Border.

NHS workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland went on strike in the days leading up to Christmas, as did Royal Mail workers. Border Force workers at British airports will be on strike from December 28, alongside some civil servants.

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