New King Charles portrait decoded by art expert who reveals hidden meanings | Royal | News


King Charles’s newest portrait has been revealed to the world, but it hides a selection of hidden meanings according to an art expert. The huge painting, the creation of artist Jonathan Yeo, was commissioned in 2020 – when Charles was a prince.

But it was completed after the King’s Coronation in May 2023 – marking His Majesty’s transition to the throne after the death of the late Queen Elizabeth II. The portrait itself has not adopted a traditional look, but has a more abstract feel to it.

The large portrait was unveiled the blue drawing room at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday afternoon – showing Charles in the uniform of the Welsh Guards and is on a huge canvas measuring 8ft 15in by 6ft 15in.

Alex Bury, the managing director of Grove Gallery in London, described it as a „bold statement on a monarchy in flux“, depicting the red background as „chaotic.“

He said: „For me, the chaotic red background symbolises ongoing upheaval, while the butterfly signifies a transformative era.“

The nod to upheaval could signal a multitude of things, from the unrest caused by Prince Harry and Meghan’s move to Montecito, California, back in 2020 – to the news this year that the monarch and Kate, the Princess of Wales, are battling cancer.

But Mr Bury added that he felt it showed „transition and uncertainty“, and likened it to a portrait of the late Queen. „Much like Justin Mortimer’s controversial 1997 Queen portrait, this is also a somewhat non-traditional piece that seemingly captures the complex transition and uncertainty within the royal family,“ he said.

„At first glance, the use of a solid, ever-changing red background might seem disconcerting. However, it cleverly mirrors the current state of the British monarchy.

„The swirling reds create a sense of motion and unrest, highlighting the turbulence within the royal family and the broader socio-political landscape.“

Eagle-eyed royal fans may also notice the painting shows a butterfly on the King’s shoulder. Mr Bury branded this „poignant“, and explained why. He added: „It symbolises not only his love for nature but also the metamorphosis from Prince to King. This delicate creature juxtaposed against the turbulent backdrop underscores the theme of change and renewal.“

King Charles is depicted with a wry smile, his hands resting on the pommel of a lance. „This pose evokes a sense of steadfastness amidst the chaos,“ he continued.

He said that this suggests, despite the upheaval, that Charles remains a „pillar of stability“.

Speaking of the King’s attire, he added: „Interestingly, the lance and his attire share the same colour as the background, symbolising that even though he exudes confidence, he is not entirely removed from the surrounding whirlwind.

„His expression, subtle yet confident, may be overlooked by those focused solely on the vibrant background, but it is a critical element of the portrait, conveying the King’s enduring presence.“



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