Flash of frustration as King Charles III loses temper over pen

Second time he has lost his cool at signing ceremony since becoming UK's monarch

King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla have problems with a pen as they sign the visitors' book at Hillsborough Castle on Tuesday. PA
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King Charles III lost his cool in front of the cameras for a second time since becoming sovereign less than a week ago, betraying more emotion in days than his mother did in her entire seven decades-long reign.

The new monarch was signing a visitors’ book at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast in Northern Ireland, on Tuesday when his pen began to leak.

“Oh golly… Oh God, I hate this,” he said, standing up.

“Oh look, it’s going everywhere,” his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, said.

The king started wiping his hand, exclaiming: “I can’t bear this [expletive] thing, what they do, every stinking time."

He then exited the room, leaving Camilla to sign the book.

The scene had echoes of four days earlier, when he became irritated at the accession council. He waved his hands to aides to move a pen holder and pens, which were in his way.

King Charles III signs an oath to uphold the security of the Church in Scotland during the accession council at St James's Palace, London. Victoria Jones / Pool Photo via AP

Camilla could be seen rolling her eyes in the background.

Some on social media sympathised with the new monarch, pointing out he was still grieving at the recent loss of his mother.

“I think it’s possible to read too much into a bit of grouchiness from someone who has been travelling non-stop since his mother died last Thursday,” tweeted the The Times’ history correspondent Jack Blackburn.

The new king has been criticised in the past for making his views known. He pledged to tone this down once he became sovereign, which is a traditionally apolitical role.

However, he has already gone further than Queen Elizabeth II did in openly talking about sensitive political topics.

On Tuesday in Northern Ireland, he was heard speaking to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, about its stance on the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

He also spoke to Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill about the Northern Ireland Assembly and its current impasse.

Updated: September 14, 2022, 9:43 AM