King unveils his first official portrait as monarch

King unveils his portrait

Source: X

The King has unveiled the first portrait of him completed since he assumed the throne – to a very mixed reception.

The vivid image that depicts the sovereign in the bright red uniform of the Welsh Guards against a background of similar hues has sparked a divisive reaction.

“Who approved King Charles III’s new portrait cuz it looks like he’s in hell?!” wrote American comedian Kristen Van Nest on X.

“I think Charles has been ill-advised with this portrait,” wrote another critic.

However, the Queen was more complimentary.

“Yes, you’ve got him,” she said when the larger-than-life painting by artist Jonathan Yeo was unveiled on Tuesday (British time) at Buckingham Palace.

British art historian Richard Morris said Yeo was “the go-to artist for slightly edgy but convincingly recognisable contemporary portraits”.

“Before photography, to have a great painter capture your real appearance, you accepted the revelation of your flaws and your mortality. It’s what Yeo captures here,” he said.

Yeo’s work captures the 75-year-old King with his hands clasped atop the hilt of his sword and a monarch butterfly flitting above his right shoulder.

Yeo began the portrait more than a year before the King came to the throne, with a sitting at the then-Prince of Wales’ Highgrove estate in June 2021.

The last sitting was in November 2023 at Clarence House, one of the King’s residences in London.

“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.

The portrait will be on display at the Philip Mould Gallery in London until June 14.

“Best formal life portrait of a sovereign for a very long while, in my view,” Mould tweeted on Tuesday.

From the end of August, the artwork will be displayed at London’s Drapers’ Hall.

King returns to investitures

Source: The Royal Family

The 2.6-metre by 2.0-metre portrait was commissioned to celebrate the King’s 50 years as a member of the Drapers’ Company, which was set up more than 600 years ago as a trade association for wool merchants.

Philanthropy came to be part of its mission and the company is now a grant-giving body.

Elsewhere, the King has marked another landmark after his recent return to public duties following treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer.

On Wednesday, he carried out investitures at Windsor Castle.

More than 50 recipients were recognised in what is reported to be his largest indoor engagement since his diagnosis.

Among those honoured was the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for his key role in last year’s coronation.

Afterwards, Welby said the King seemed in “very good spirits indeed” and was “looking very well”.

-with AAP

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