Leaky pen and staffing cuts: King Charles III under scrutiny

King Charles III walks behind the coffin during the procession for Queen Elizabeth II.
Britain’s King Charles III walks in the procession escorting Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin to Parliament in London on Wednesday.
(Kate Green / Associated Press)

Reports that up to 100 staffers at King Charles III’s former residence could lose their jobs have drawn criticism of the British monarchy, within days of his accession to the throne.

The Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday that dozens of staff at Clarence House, Charles’ former official residence, were given notice that their jobs were on the line. The report said the notices came in the midst of a busy period of transition as Charles and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, move to Buckingham Palace after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Thursday.

The Public and Commercial Services Union called the royals’ decision to inform staff of job cuts during a period of mourning “nothing short of heartless.”


Reports that up to 100 staffers at King Charles III’s former residence could lose their jobs draw criticism of the British monarchy.

“While some changes across the households were to be expected, as roles across the royal family change, the scale and speed at which this has been announced is callous in the extreme,” the union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said

Britain is in a national period of mourning until Monday, when the queen’s state funeral will be held.

In a statement, Clarence House said that following Charles’ accession, operations of his and Camilla’s household “have ceased” and “as required by law, a consultation process has begun.”

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“Our staff have given long and loyal service and, while some redundancies will be unavoidable, we are working urgently to identify alternative roles for the greatest possible number of staff,” the statement added.


The Guardian said one unnamed member of Charles’ staff told the newspaper that “everyone is absolutely livid … people were visibly shaken by it.”

The criticism added to negative press for the 73-year-old monarch after two videos showing him visibly irritated by a leaky pen and a pen holder went viral on social media in recent days.

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In one video, Charles was seen becoming frustrated with a leaking pen while signing a visitors’ book in in Northern Ireland, where he was visiting Tuesday on the latest leg of his royal tour of the U.K.’s four nations.

Charles was heard exclaiming, “Oh, God, I hate this!” and muttering, “I can’t bear this bloody thing … every stinking time.”

The video came after another pen-related incident on Saturday, when the new monarch was seen gesturing in irritation at his staff when a pen holder got in his way as he signed a document during his accession ceremony.

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Charles has been under intense media scrutiny and had a grueling schedule since his mother’s death in Scotland on Thursday. He and Camilla flew from Scotland to London for his accession ceremony and a visit to Parliament to address legislators, before flying back to Scotland where he walked behind the queen’s coffin.

He then jetted to Northern Ireland on Tuesday and returned to London the same night, in time for the procession of the queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday.