Why King Charles’ first official portrait is being met with a mixed response

May 15, 2024
Charles' new portrait comes after the King recently marked his first public appearance since being diagnosed with cancer. Source: AP PHOTO.

King Charles III has unveiled his first official portrait since he ascended the throne, the striking depiction of the Monarch eliciting a mixed response from royal enthusiasts.

The painting completed by artist Jonathan Yeo portrays the 75 year old with his hands clasped together and a butterfly above his right shoulder.

The King is wearing bright red uniform of the Welsh Guards, in the depiction, set against an equally bright red background.

The painting was specially commissioned to honour Charles’ five decades of membership in the Drapers’ Company, an institution established over six centuries ago to serve as a trade association for wool traders.

The unveiling of the painting on Tuesday, May 14 at Buckingham Palace was captured in a video shared to the Royal Family’s social media pages.

Yeo spoke of the “privilege and pleasure” at being given the opportunity to paint the King’s portrait.

“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 said.

“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.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily)

While Yeo enjoyed the process of capturing the King on canvas and the Monarch himself seemed to be pleased with the final result, the reaction online has not been as positive with members of the public taken aback by the painting.

“I’m sorry but his portrait looks like he’s in hell,” one wrote.

“Slightly disturbing.”

“I don’t get a good feeling from viewing this portrait at all. Apologies to the artist, but it’s not pleasant to look at,” commented another.

“I would have loved this if it was any other color than red. He really captured the essence of him in the face, but the harshness of the red doesn’t match the softness of his expression.”

While there were those who seemed to disapprove of the painting, many admitted to enjoying the depiction.

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

“Terrific portrait.”

“A lovely portrait of King Charles! I love the way the muted background draws attention to his face!” commented another.

“Amazing! How brilliant.”

Charles’ new portrait comes after the King recently marked his first public appearance since being diagnosed with cancer.

Buckingham Palace recently announced that doctors were pleased with King Charles’ response to treatment, giving him the green light to resume some public engagements. His first official appearance saw him and Queen Camilla visiting the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre, where they met with patients and medical specialists.

During his visit, the King spoke candidly about the “shock” of his cancer diagnosis, offering words of empathy and reassurance to fellow patients.

When asked about his health by one patient, King Charles replied with characteristic British understatement.

“I’m alright thank you very much, not too bad,” he said.

Reflecting on his diagnosis, the King shared, “It’s always a bit of a shock, isn’t it, when they tell you?”

His ability to connect with others facing similar challenges was evident as he comforted Lesley Woodbridge, 63, by sharing his own upcoming treatment schedule, saying, “I’ve got to have my treatment this afternoon as well.”

Despite the gravity of his situation, King Charles exuded warmth and optimism throughout the visit. His cheerful demeanour and friendly waves to well-wishers gathered outside the hospital underscored his unwavering commitment to serving his people.

-with AP.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up