Heavy is the head that wears the crown

May 4, 2023

Less than a year ago, at the time of the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we published an article posing the question “Would the Queen make a good CEO?” When this weekend’s coronation is over, her son, King Charles III, will have (symbolically, at least) taken the reins in earnest and scrutiny of his leadership will intensify, much like the new head of a large company after his or her first 100 days.

The British Royal Family is often referred to as ‘The Firm’ by some of its own members. It’s a tightly run operation, in which key players are expected to pull their weight in service of the country – none more so than the late Queen. The corporate analogy is not wasted: consultancy Brand Finance estimates that while the Royal Family might ‘cost’ the state £500m a year, the annual contribution of its brand to the UK economy is around £2.5 billion.

Like a CEO, the King becomes ultimately responsible for sustaining this income stream for the UK. His mother carefully navigated reputational issues around certain family members no longer on the A-list while staying mindful of the ongoing cost of keeping the show on the road. Some would say the new boss’s challenge is rather more existential: sustaining the monarchy itself in very different times from 70 years ago when the Queen acceded to the throne.

New research from Focaldata finds that around six in ten people in Britain (57%) support the UK having a monarch; one in five (19%) are opposed ¬– 10% ‘strongly’ – with a further fifth (21%) on the fence. So the institution has its work cut out to stay relevant in modern Britain, with weaker support for the monarchy among young people aged 18-24 (33%) and ethnic minorities (47%).

Businesses often face similar challenges to keep up with the times. Some find they need to pivot their core offering or business model, effectively reinventing themselves to generate new interest. Others may tread less boldly, yet are able to survive by keeping a tight grip and turning predictability and reliability into virtues. The Harvard Business Review cites three key challenges for new CEOs that might also face the new King:

  • Operating in the shadow of their past
  • Making tough calls that disappoint supporters
  • Establishing the right pace of change

Overall, King Charles will need to emulate his mother in being open minded and quick to confront problems. He already has a reputation for working exceedingly hard, which can’t necessarily be said for every corporate boss in the land. For both King and business leader, progress in building a legacy to weather future storms requires impactful, inspirational leadership.

There is, unsurprisingly, great debate about the positive economic impact of the coronation as a national event. In London, hotel occupancy over the coronation weekend stands at 96%, according to Nicholls. The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates a £337 million boost from extra tourism and spending in pubs over the three day weekend, which includes an extra public holiday on Monday. The ceremonial sword is, however, double-edged: Pantheon Macroeconomics expects GDP to fall about 0.2% month-on-month in May, with the decline blamed on the one-off Bank Holiday.

Revenue boost or not, there is no escaping the cost of living crisis and miserable economic figures for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, we at Buchler Phillips send our very best wishes to King Charles at the time of his coronation, an opportunity for the nation and its stricken economy to move forward with hope, courage and determination.

God Save the King!

Written by David Buchler, Chairman at Buchler Phillips, an independent boutique firm with an impeccable Mayfair London heritage, specialising in corporate recovery, turnaround, restructuring and insolvency. The fabulous coronation cup cakes on the picture are created and baked by our very own Anoushka Desai, Analyst at Buchler Phillips!  

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