Reactions to King Charles’ new portrait range from bad to worse as the King unveils first art since coronation

Zach Margolius
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Artist Jonathan Yeo and King Charles III have unveiled the first official portait of the monarch. (AP PHOTO)
Artist Jonathan Yeo and King Charles III have unveiled the first official portait of the monarch. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

King Charles’ first commissioned art piece since his coronation has been labelled “disrespectful” and “disturbing” after followers of the royal family accused the portrait of celebrating the monarchy’s “colonial bloodshed”.

The portrait stands at an imposing 2.6m high by 2m wide framed and is set to be housed at Draper’s Hall in London.

Esteemed British artist Jonathon Yeo — commissioned to complete works for The Duchess of Cornwall in 2014 and The Duke of Edinburgh in 2008 — was entrusted to complete the expansive work.

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Shared to Instagram, the royal family presented the perhaps unintentionally provocative canvas to the world, accompanied by a comment from the artist.

“It was a privilege and pleasure to have been commissioned by The Drapers’ Company to paint this portrait of His Majesty The King, the first to be unveiled since his coronation,” Jonathon Yeo wrote.

“When I started this project, His Majesty The King was still His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, and much like the butterfly I’ve painted hovering over his shoulder, this portrait has evolved as the subject’s role in our public life has transformed.

“I do my best to capture the life experiences and humanity etched into any individual sitter’s face and I hope that is what I have achieved in this portrait.

“To try and capture that for His Majesty The King, who occupies such a unique role, was both a tremendous professional challenge and one, which I thoroughly enjoyed and am immensely grateful for.”

In a salute to the Welsh Guards — of which he was exalted as Regimental Colonel in 1975 — His Majesty is depicted resting his hands over his sword as a butterfly floats gracefully by his shoulder.

An initial inspection suggests a noticeable deviation from previous royal pieces by way of colour, but many online followers have extracted a sinister symbolism from the piece.

“It looks like he’s bathing in blood,” one person commented.

“Looks like he’s going straight to hell,” another read, referencing the all-encompassing red and pink hues blanketing the canvas.

Another asked: “Does it reference the colonial bloodshed produced by British imperialism?”

Some traditionalists were concerned The King’s late mother may not have blessed its unconventional style.

“Queen Elizabeth would not have approved of this,” one argued.

Even painters chimed in, claiming the piece was a blight on both the subject and artist.

“I am a portrait artist. This looks like an unfinished portrait and disrespectful to present this to His Majesty,” one person commented.

While the post was met with overwhelmingly negative feedback, a minority of staunch royal followers offered their support.

“This painting is absolutely SPECTACULAR and so sophisticated and STRONG ❤️ Congratulations to the artist,” one person claimed.

Presenting the towering frame to applause at Buckingham Palace, King Charles unveiled the artwork himself alongside artist Jonathon Yeo.

A stark contrast to portraits of his predecessors, the King would be advised against consulting social media for a complimentary appraisal of his latest portrayal.


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