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King Charles III’s Controversial New Portrait Vandalized in London

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The brand new portrait of King Charles III got a bit of a makeover on Tuesday. The controversial Jonathan Yeo painting, which was unveiled in May, was hanging in the Philip Mould Gallery in London, England, when two activists and a camera man from the group Animal Rising rushed forward to cover the piece with what appears to be stickers. 

In a video shared by Animal Rising, Charles’ face is covered by an image of Wallace from the Wallace & Gromit cartoon. A speech bubble is also pasted onto the painting, reading, “No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!” 

King Charles III is the royal patron of the RSPCA, and Animal Rising is demanding that the British monarch “drop the Assured Scheme,” claiming that they investigated the farms and found “several animal cruelty on every single one.” 

The portrait is currently on display at the Philip Mould Gallery until June 21, and artist Yeo was expected to visit the gallery on Tuesday. 

Prior to the activists’ statement, the portrait was already a bit controversial when it was unveiled in May. 

Yeo — who has produced portraits of Prince Philip and Queen Camilla in the past — depicted the sovereign in mostly shades of red as he dons the uniform of the Welsh Guards. King Charles holds a sword in his hands while a butterfly is seen above his right shoulder. Amid his cancer battle and following treatment, Charles returned to public engagements in late April and unveiled the portrait himself. As he pulled down the drape covering the art, he appeared to be initially stunned by what he saw.  

A woman views King Charles’ first official portrait since the coronation painted by Jonathan Yeo on public display at Philip Mould Gallery in central London, Britain, May, 16, 2024.Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Image

“It was a privilege and pleasure to have been commissioned by The Drapers’ Company to paint this portrait of His Majesty The King, the first to be unveiled since his Coronation. 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 a statement. “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.”

This isn’t the first time a portrait of King Charles has been vandalized. In July 2023, climate activists spray painted over a portrait of Charles in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. 

Neither the Philip Mould Gallery nor the Royal Family have publicly commented on the incident. 

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