Ominous Official Portrait of King Charles Panned as Banal at Best, Satanic at Worst

King Charles III Portrait, Royal Family
Royal Family, X

The first official portrait of King Charles III since his ascension to the British Throne, a swirling psychedelic red interpretation of the Monarch in his military uniform, has been widely criticised by the public and critics alike.

Falling in line with his longtime ambition to update the Monarchy and drag the British Royal Family into the 21st Century, the first official portrait of the King — painted by UK artist Jonathan Yeo — broke with traditional portraits in deploying postmodern elements while giving a nod to the King’s previous environmental activism.

The 8.5ft by 6.5ft portrait sees the King, sword in hand, dressed in the uniform of the Welsh Guards, for whom he was appointed as Regimental Colonel in 1975. The painting shrouds the British monarch in an abstract cloud of “vivid” red paint while a butterfly hangs above his right shoulder.

Yeo explained that the decision to include the butterfly was inspired by Charles’ passion for the green agenda, which “he has championed most of his life and certainly long before they became a mainstream conversation”.

The artist said that it also symbolised “metamorphosis”, with work on the portrait beginning before Charles ascended to the throne and being completed after he became 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 said.

“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.

“I’m unimaginably grateful for the opportunity to capture such an extraordinary and unique person, especially at the historic moment of becoming King.”

The portrait was praised by the now-Queen, who alongside Prince Phillip, was also previously a subject of a Yeo portrait.

“Yes, you’ve got him,” Queen Camilla reportedly remarked to the artist at the unveiling, according to the BBC.

However, users on social media were not as impressed with the painting, with many claiming that the red cloud surrounding the King seemed Satanic or hellish. Others have claimed that mirroring the portrait side by side appears to show the outline of Baphomet.

Others were critical of the modernist portrait for failing to capture the essence of the King, with British art critic Jonathan Jones giving the painting one star in a review for the left-wing Guardian newspaper.

“There’s no insight into the king’s personality here, just a weird allegory about a monarch butterfly that Yeo says is a symbol of his metamorphosis from prince to king,” Jones wrote.

“A serious portrait would look hard and long at Charles (or anyone), not combine facile pseudo-portraiture with the cheery serotonin of random colour. We all know the king is more complex than this. The king knows he is more complex than this. It is a masterpiece of shallowness by an artist so ludicrously upbeat he should be called Jonathan Yo!” he quipped.

Yeo previously claimed headlines after creating a collage of cut-up pornographic magazines to create a pseudo-portrait of then-President George W. Bush in order to display the “assumed moral superiority of the extreme right in American politics.”

The portrait will be free for the public to view at the Philip Mould Gallery in London from May 16 to June 14 and then be put on display at Drapers’ Hall at the end of August.

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