King Charles' Official Portrait Called 'Satanic,' Sparks Confusion


King Charles III’s first official portrait was just unveiled, and it’s interesting, to say the least.

The portrait, painted by British artist Jonathan Yeo, was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday on the social media platform X.

It marks the first official portrait of Charles since his coronation last May.

The portrait, save for Charles’ face and hands, is also entirely red. Charles is depicted in an all-red military uniform of the Welsh Guards, sword in hand, set against an all-red background.

According to CNN, the portrait was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Charles’ membership in the Drapers’ Company, a historic fraternal organization that funds education initiatives in the United Kingdom.

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Yeo had four sittings with Charles during the painting process, while also utilizing other drawings and photographs of the king, CNN reported.

Yeo indicated he wanted to maintain royal portraiture traditions, while implementing a modern touch.

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“I do my best to capture the life experiences etched into any individual sitter’s face. 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,” Yeo said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace, according to CNN.

A description on Yeo’s website explains the symbolic elements of the portrait.

“The vivid colour of the glazes in the background echo the uniform’s bright red tunic, not only resonating with the royal heritage found in many historical portraits but also injecting a dynamic, contemporary jolt into the genre with its uniformly powerful hue / providing a modern contrast to more traditional depictions,” the website states.

“The butterfly approaching King Charles’s shoulder in the portrait adds a layer of narrative depth, symbolising both his known advocacy for environmental causes and his personal transformation.

“The Monarch butterfly is believed to have been named after an English King (William of Orange) due to its distinctive colour and this migratory species is already one of the most affected by climate change because of alterations in spring temperatures.”

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Yeo’s depiction of the king in the Welsh Guard’s red uniform reflects Charles’ longstanding service as the Prince of Wales, a role traditionally given to the male heir apparent to the British throne.

Despite Yeo’s professed to create a portrait that would allow viewer to “connect with the human being underneath” the appearance of his subject, not all reactions have been positive.

Some were confused. Some thought it was ugly. And some even characterized the portrait as “satanic.”

While Yeo did not likely have hellish intentions with his depiction of Charles, it’s a unique portrait of the British monarch.

The heavy use of red, coupled with Yeo’s technique, muddle the viewer’s ability to distinguish Charles from the background, almost making it look like the king is engulfed in a fiery blaze.

While the symbolism used by Yeo, such as the uniform and butterfly, recognize Charles’ military service environmental interests, their significance is diminished due to the overuse of the color red.

Granted, the king’s approval is the only one that matters. As long as Charles is happy, Yeo will likely pay no mind to critics.

Still, given that this is an official portrait of the king of England, it’s hard to not wonder if this work is really fit for royalty.

The portrait will be on public view at London’s Philip Mould Gallery from May 16 until June 14 — the day before the official celebration of the king’s birthday. (His actual birthday is in November.)

It will then move to Drapers’ Hall in London, according to Yeo’s website.

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Anthony Altomari is a commentary writer for the Western Journal. He focuses his writing on culture and politics.
Anthony Altomari is a commentary writer for the Western Journal. He focuses his writing on culture and politics.