Rishi Sunak is facing an angry backlash from Britain’s emergency service workers over a Government funding row that threatens to scupper King Charles’s Coronation medal plans.
Palace sources said last week the King was “furious”, after a Government row over costs threatened to jeopardise his plans to award medals to all serving frontline members of the police, fire, emergency services, prison services and the Armed Forces – as has been done in the past for similar major royal events.
Officials are thought to fear the cost of the honours could run to as much as £35million, sparking a fierce debate over funding between Government departments.
Sources close to the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace alleged that the Home Office was the main culprit in obstructing the monarch’s wishes.
However, Home Office officials said that while they supported the plan, they had simply raised concerns over how it was to be funded amid fears that money would have to be allocated from existing budgets.
The row has left emergency services personnel fearful that they will miss out on receiving medals they had anticipated would be given out as a matter of course to reward them for their sacrifices in the line of public duty.
A serving officer from one of the branches of the emergency services told the Express the £35million figure for the medals was “an absolute smokescreen” and a “total lot of rot.”
They added: “I am a serving officer of many years and we have received them in 2002 (Golden Jubilee), 2012 (Diamond Jubilee) and 2022 (Platinum Jubilee) as a gift from the Queen herself. For the King not to be allowed to do the same is crazy.
“Like everybody else we have worked through Covid, many colleagues have passed away – particularly among ambulance crews.
“I also know of many police officers who have died [from Covid] and prison officers who have also gone down with the virus.
“I think it is an insult to the King and an insult to the servants of the Crown.
“We are the people who go towards danger and are expected to do so on a daily basis.”
The £35 million figure has been disputed by Government sources.
The cost of commemorative medals for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was £7million and was awarded by the then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to a consortium led by Worcestershire Medal Service.
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Around 450,000 medals were handed out to those who were still serving in the Armed or Emergency Services on 6th February 2012 and had completed five years’ service.
Chris Dawson, the editor-in-chief of the website channelx.world, worked out the medal cost everybody in the UK roughly 10p each.
He said: “There were 450,000 made, so that means one in every 150ish people in the country got one.
“The real value is about fifteen pounds – the contract to manufacture the medals was worth £7 million – an average cost of around 10p to every man woman and child in the UK.”
At the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, some 120,000 medals were issued. It is believed this time round only 10,000 will be handed out.
The serving officer was clearly frustrated and disappointed at the prospect that the majority of medals may only go to those members of the Emergency Services working in London on Coronation Day.
“The Emergency Services will be at the Coronation,” they said.
“And if it is only those people in London – the Metropolitan and Westminster Police will be the predominant recipients – how can it be fair because they work in London they get a medal and the rest of us working across the country on the very same day won’t.
“It’s not a battle honour, it’s a commemorative one – I may not have been in Afghanistan but I can assure you I have been through many riots and very violent situations in my career.”