First official portrait of King Charles since Coronation unveiled

It includes a poignant detail that was the King’s own idea

Emma Guinness
Tuesday 14 May 2024 16:57
Moment King Charles is crowned

The first official portrait of King Charles since his Coronation has been unveiled at Buckingham Palace.

Painted by renowned portrait artist Jonathan Yeo, the King, 75, can be seen in the abstract work wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards against a red backdrop.

The new painting measures 8ft 6in by 6ft 6in and features a butterfly landing on the Monarch’s shoulder.

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

Yeo admitted that he was nervous about painting the King, joking: “If this was seen as treasonous, I could literally pay for it with my head, which would be an appropriate way for a portrait painter to die – to have their head removed!”

The King is not the first famous face the artist has painted and he has also created portraits of Sir David Attenborough and Malala Yousafzai.

While it is not known if the King has seen the completed portrait yet, he did see it in its “half-done state”.

“He was initially mildly surprised by the strong colour but otherwise he seemed to be smiling approvingly,” Yeo said.

Both the King and Queen are reported to approve of the painting (His Majesty King Charles III by Jonathan Yeo 2024/PA Wire)

Opening up about his artistic process, Yeo explained that “[my] interest is really in figuring out who someone is and trying to get that on a canvas.”

The choice of outfit for the portrait was an apt one and reflects the King’s position as Regimental Colonel in the Welsh Guards – a role has occupied since 1975.

The portrait features a butterfly appearing to land on the King’s shoulder (His Majesty King Charles III by Jonathan Yeo 2024/PA Wire)

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.

The inclusion of the butterfly, however, was not the artist’s idea but the King’s.

Yeo recalled: “I said: ‘When schoolchildren are looking at this in 200 years and they’re looking at the who’s who of the monarchs, what clues can you give them?’

“He said: ‘What about a butterfly landing on my shoulder?’”

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