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King Charles III’s first portrait as king draws mixed reactions online


King Charles’ first official portrait as King has been met with mixed reactions from the public.

The abstract painting by Jonathan Yeo was unveiled by the monarch at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to show the King wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards against a red backdrop.

It went down a storm with Queen Camilla, who is reported to have looked at the portrait and said: “Yes, you’ve got him.”

Charles himself also requested a small but poignant detail to be included in the portrait – a butterfly appearing to land on his shoulder.

However, the unusual portrait has divided opinion amongst royal fans and social media users.

One person commented that the painting made them “uncomfortable” while others compared it to popular memes.

The unusual portrait has divided opinion amongst royal fans and social media users.

One person said on X: “The King’s portrait channelling the ‘Everything is fine’ meme? Just me then.”

Many others commented on the large swathes of red used for the painting, with one saying: “The face is great but the rest looks like a blood bath.”

Another person wrote: Did the painter of the king charles portrait stop and think…hm, red…what sort of connotations does red have..”

“I’m sorry but his portrait looks like he’s in hell,” another wrote. Others simply remarked that they thought the portrait was “satire”.

King Charles’ first official portrait as King has been met with mixed reactions from the public. (PA)

However, others had positive reactions to the piece and remarked on the hidden messaging behind the painting.

One person commented on the work: “I think this is beautiful and such a break from the traditional portraits.”

This sentiment was echoed by another who said: “Love the artistry! Clever and innovative! Personally I love the focus on his face… my wish, as much as it shows the strength of the King’s character it also shows compassion and love.”

While a third added: “A lovely portrait of King Charles! I love the way the muted background draws attention to his face!”

The new painting measures 8ft 6in by 6ft 6in and was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then Prince of Wales’s 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company.

The decision to include the butterfly was said to reflect the transformation King Charles has undergone since officially being crowned last May.

“In [the] history of art, the butterfly symbolises metamorphosis and rebirth,” he said.

Yeo had four sittings with the King, beginning when Charles was Prince of Wales in June 2021 at Highgrove, and later at Clarence House. The last sitting took place in November 2023 at Clarence House.

Yeo said: “I do my best to capture the life experiences etched into any individual sitter’s face. In this case, my aim was also to make reference to the traditions of royal portraiture but in a way that reflects a 21st-century monarchy and, above all else, to communicate the subject’s deep humanity.”

The portrait will go on public display for a month at the Philip Mould Gallery in London, from May 16 until June 14. Entry is free.



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