King Charles III divides fans after monarch releases first portrait: It 'looks like he's in hell'

Charles' portrait was painted by U.K.-based artist Jonathan Yeo and unveiled at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday

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King Charles III's first official portrait as king was met with divided reactions from royal fans.

On Tuesday, the 75-year-old monarch revealed the portrait, which was painted over the last three years by U.K.-based artist Jonathan Yeo, during an unveiling at Buckingham Palace. 

In the painting, Charles is seen holding a sword and wearing the bright red uniform of the Welsh Guards, a British Army regiment of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975, according to Buckingham Palace. 

The king was depicted against a dramatic red background with a crimson butterfly, symbolic of his ascension to the throne, over his shoulder.

king charles portrait/king charles at the trooping of the colour

King Charles' first official portrait as king divided royal fans. (The Royal Family Instagram/Getty)

"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," Yeo was quoted as saying in the caption of an Instagram post by the royal family which included the portrait and a video from the unveiling.


Yeo continued, "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."

"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," he added.

"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." 


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Charles' portrait will be displayed for the public to view at London's Philip Mould Gallery for a month starting on Thursday. Afterward, the painting will be moved to its permanent home at Draper's Hall, one of the 12 livery halls in London.

The caption noted that Yeo previously painted other royal portraits, including one of Charles' wife Queen Camilla in 2014, when she was the Duchess of Cornwall, and another of his late father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 2008. Images of the portraits were included in the post shared by the royal family.

The royals' post was quickly flooded with comments from social media users expressing both positive and negative reactions to the portrait. While some praised the portrait, others criticized the red background, which many said they found hellish and "disturbing."

king charles and jonathan yeo at portrait unveiling

Jonathan Yeo painted the portrait over the past three years. ( Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

"I'm sorry but his portrait looks like he's in hell," one fan commented.

"It looks like he’s bathing in blood," another social media user wrote.

"I think this is beautiful and such a break from the traditional portraits," a fan chimed in.

king charles with camilla and guests at unveiling

The portrait was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. ( Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

"I would have loved this if it was any other color than red," a social media user wrote. "He really captured the essence of him in the face, but the harshness of the red doesn’t match the softness of his expression."

"It looks a bit like the King resides in a fiery hell," another commented. "And I do not believe that to be the case. Given his love of nature and preservation, I am surprised there was not a natural landscape portrayed behind him."

"A lovely portrait of King Charles!" a fan raved. "I love the way the muted background draws attention to his face!"

"I don’t like this at all. Stick a pair of horns on him and it looks like satan in the underworld. There are far lovlier (sic) portraits of king charles!" a fan added.

king charles and jonathan yeo looking at portrait

Yeo completed the painting after four sittings with Charles. (Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

king charles and jonathan yeo smiling in front of portrait

Yeo said that Charles was initially surprised about the color but smiled when he saw the portrait. ( Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

"This painting is absolutely SPECTACULAR and so sophisticated and STRONG," another gushed. "Congratulations to the artist"

"It looks like he’s burning in hell," an Instagram user wrote.

"I love it! ‘The red represents the Welsh Guards of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975,’" one fan commented.

"I'm sorry to say i don't think it's appropriate for a king to have such a portrait. The only thing missing is red glowing eyes and a pitchfork in his hand," a critic added.

"Ahh YOU GUYS LOVE TO COMPLAIN… it doesnt matter how good the painting looks, the goal is to complain. Its a beautiful piece this one. I really liked it. This is art," a fan wrote.

queen camilla smiling at kenneth yeo

Queen Camilla voiced her approval over the painting when she saw it. ( Aaron Chown-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The portrait was first commissioned in 2020, and Yeo completed it after four sittings with Charles from 2021 to 2023.

During an interview with the BBC, Yeo recalled the monarch's reaction when he saw the portrait in a "half-done state."

"He was initially mildly surprised by the strong color, but otherwise he seemed to be smiling approvingly," Yeo remembered.

However, Camilla, who joined Charles at the unveiling, voiced her approval upon seeing the completed portrait.

"Yes, you've got him," the queen told Yeo, per the BBC.

Ashley Hume is an entertainment writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and on Twitter: @ashleyhume

Authored by Ashley Hume via FoxNews May 14th 2024