Prince Charles III Portrait Defaced by Animal Rights Activists

Animal rights activist group Animal Rising pasted the head of animated character Wallace over Jonathan Yeo’s recently unveiled portrait of King Charles III.

Jun 12, 2024By Rosie Lesso, MA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine Art

charles wallace animal rising

 

Jonathan Yeo’s portrait of King Charles II, currently on show in London, was given a new makeover by animal rights activist group ‘Animal Rising’ at around midday on Tuesday. The protestors pasted the face of animated character Wallace from the popular Wallace and Gromit Aardman Animations franchise over King Charles’s head, along with a cartoon caption reading, “No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!”

 

Philip Mould Gallery

Animal Rising protestors pasting stickers on the portrait of King Charles III. Source: Fox news

 

The protest took place at London’s Philip Mould Gallery, where the painting is currently on show to the public for free. After climbing over the security rope in front of the regal portrait, protestors pasted their cut-outs over the painting using rollers, while shocked gallery-goers looked on. They then shared a video of the action taking place on X, formerly Twitter. No harm was done to the original painting, as the activists pasted cut-out paper onto the Perspex covering the portrait of King Charles with water, which were easily peeled away. The incident was, according to gallery staff, a peaceful protest which was over quickly.

 

The King’s First Official Portrait

Jonathan Yeo and King Charles III with the king’s first official portrait. Source: BBC

 

As the first official portrait of King Charles III since the coronation, the monumental painting was revealed at Buckingham Palace just 1 month ago, depicting the King dressed in, and surrounded by striking shades of red, while wearing his red Welsh guard’s ceremonial military uniform, with a butterfly on his shoulder. The commission was put in place before the king’s rise to the throne, to celebrate his 50-year membership with the Drapers’ Company, originally established as a trade association for wool merchants around 600 years ago, and now operating as a philanthropic venture. It typifies British artist Jonathan Yeo’s style of portraiture, in which he has depicted a range of high profile public figures with detailed faces against abstract, painterly grounds.

 

A ‘Comic Redecoration’

Animal Rising protest group. Source: Express

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The group called their act a “comic redecoration”, and a “light-hearted action [that] played on the King’s love of Wallace and Gromit.” They also deliberately targeted King Charles given his status as a royal patron to the RSPCA, calling for him to suspend his allegiance with the charity until they drop the Assured Scheme, set up to approve the welfare of farmed animals. Daniel Juniper, one of the members of Animal Rising who carried out the protest, said, “Even though we hope this is amusing to His Majesty, we also call on him to seriously reconsider if he wants to be associated with the awful suffering across farms being endorsed by the RSPCA.”

 

The RSPCA Assured Scheme

The RSPCA Assured logo which appears on their approved farm foods. Source: Harrison Agency

 

The protest came about in response to what Animal Rising called a “damning investigation” into 45 farms claiming to be RSPCA approved. Their report, first released to the public on Sunday via their website, and mentioned in their Twitter posts on Tuesday, exposes 280 legal breaches and 94 breaches of Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) regulations across UK farms which were approved by the RSPCA. Orla Coghlan, a spokesperson for Animal Rising, argues, “It’s clear from the scenes across 45 RSPCA Assured farms that there’s no kind way to farm animals.”

 

In response, the RSPCA issued a statement defending the Assured scheme, calling it “the best way to help farmed animals right now, while campaigning to change their lives in the future.” They added, “Concerns about welfare on RSPCA Assured certified farms are taken extremely seriously and RSPCA Assured is acting swiftly to look into these allegations.”

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By Rosie LessoMA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine ArtRosie is a contributing writer and artist based in Scotland. She has produced writing for a wide range of arts organizations including Tate Modern, The National Galleries of Scotland, Art Monthly, and Scottish Art News, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art. Previously she has worked in both curatorial and educational roles, discovering how stories and history can really enrich our experience of art.