Royal News

King Charles’s First Official Portrait Since Coronation Is Sparking Controversy

Charles and Camilla have given the bold painting their seal of approval.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of his coronation, King Charles III unveiled his first official portrait since the eventful day—completed by artist Jonathan Yeo—on May 14.

“Today, The King unveiled a new portrait by @RealJonathanYeo at Buckingham Palace. The painting – commissioned by The Draper’s Company – is the first official portrait to be completed since His Majesty’s Coronation,” the royal family tweeted on its official X account. “It will hang in Draper’s Hall in London.”

The portrait features Charles in a predominantly red setting, wearing an equally red royal uniform decorated with medals, pins, and a bold crest beneath his chest. The painting sees Charles giving a relaxed smile while holding a sword as a butterfly hovers above his shoulder.

And while you could argue it’s just another portrait, as The New York Times’s Vanessa Friedman writes, it’s sparking some controversy. “Royal portraits, as a rule, tend to be fairly staid, predictable affairs. Full of symbolism, sure, but generally symbolism of the traditional, establishment kind: symbols of state, of office, of pomp and lineage,” Friedman writes. “Which is why the new official portrait of King Charles III by Jonathan Yeo, the first since the king’s coronation, has created such a controversy.”

She continues, “the choice of shade seems particularly fraught given the … well, firestorm the king has endured since his ascension to the throne.”

King Charles with coronation portrait
The royal family also shared Yeo’s statement to its official Instagram. The artist said “it was as a privilege and pleasure to have been commissioned by The Drapers’ Company to paint this portrait of His Majesty The King. 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.”

Yeo, who previously painted portraits of Charles’ father, Prince Philip and Queen Camilla in 2008 and 2014 respectively, revealed that Charles and Camilla approved of the painting. According to the artist, Camilla said, “Yes you’ve got him,” once she saw the final product. While Charles was “mildly surprised by the strong color,” it didn’t deter him from enjoying the painting as well. Yeo added that “he seemed to be smiling approvingly” at the work.

The public will be able to view the painting from May 16 to June 14 at the Philip Mould Gallery in London. CNN reported that the painting will later live amongst the other royal portraits at Drapers’s Hall starting in August.

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