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Compiled by Carien Grobler

Deputy Digital Editor

LOOK: King Charles III sees red in new portrait

The portrait will go on public display until next month and eventually hang in Drapers' Hall, the base of the historic merchants' guild and philanthropic body in the City of London.

King Charles III on Tuesday unveiled the first completed official portrait of himself since his coronation — a striking red depiction of the British monarch in uniform.

The 230cm by 165.5cm (7.5 feet by 5.4 feet) oil on canvas was painted by Jonathan Yeo, who has previously depicted Charles’s wife Camilla in 2014, and his father, Prince Philip, in 2008.

It shows the 75-year-old head of state in the ceremonial red uniform of the Welsh Guards against a red background, with a butterfly hovering over his shoulder.

Yeo, 53, was commissioned for the work in 2020, when Charles was still prince of Wales, to mark his 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company.

The portrait will go on public display until next month and eventually hang in Drapers’ Hall, the base of the historic merchants’ guild and philanthropic body in the City of London.

The canvas size – approximately 8.5 by 6.5 feet when framed – was carefully considered to fit within the architecture of Drapers’ Hall and the context of the paintings it will eventually hang alongside.

Charles, who became king in September 2022 after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, had four sittings with Yeo from June 2021 to November 2023. Yeo also worked from drawings and photography he took, allowing him to work on the portrait in his London studio between sittings.

He is currently receiving treatment for cancer and has only recently resumed official public engagements.

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“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 before an unveiling at Buckingham Palace.

“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.” he added in a statement.

Yeo’s previous notable subjects include the first painted portrait of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair.

Fans of the royal family had different reactions to the portrait on Facebook, with one writing: “I’m sorry but his portrait looks like he’s in hell”. Another added that it’s the worst royal portrait that she has ever seen.

Others expressed their approval: “I love it! The red represents the Welsh Guards of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975”.

Yet, the majority of comments said the red looks like it represents blood, with several referring to the bloodshed in the colonies: “Not hate or anything but with the uniform and that colour it looks like a visual representation of the massacre caused by colonizers”.

Additional source: AFP

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