King Charles' Eerie First Portrait Since Coronation Backfires With Royal Fans

After a difficult year for the royal family following King Charles III” coronation, loyalists were happy to see the palace share a happy moment for once. Regrettably, that happiness didn't last very long. On May 14, the king had the honor of unveiling his first official portrait since ascending the throne. Artist Jonathan Yeo was appointed to capture Charles on canvas several years ago, when he was still the Prince of Wales, and "this portrait has evolved as the subject's role in our public life has transformed," he explained on the royal family's Instagram page. Many who saw the image online felt the painting didn't evolve nearly enough.

As pictured below, the eight-foot-plus portrait depicts Charles wearing his formal red uniform as Regimental Colonel of the Welsh Guards. His gaze is direct, his expression, happy and approachable. However, the entire background is in the same shades of red, pink, and brown as the uniform, making the king appear almost entirely camouflaged except for his head and hands. The only other standout in the painting is a small butterfly flitting over his right shoulder, which Yeo included as a symbol of Charles' metamorphosis from heir to ruler. Only through careful examination can viewers pick out details such as the king's medals and epaulets.

The king seemed pleased as he unveiled his likeness, but if he had shed a tear — few royals ever cry in public — his supporters wouldn't have blamed him a bit.

Camilla liked Charles' portrait, but the public did not

The new portrait of King Charles was met with harsh criticism from Buckingham Palace followers on Instagram who couldn't get past its, um, utter redness. Adjectives such as "creepy," "horrible," "appalling," "scary," and "atrocious" crammed the comments section. "The only thing missing is red glowing eyes and a pitchfork in his hand," said one user. Others felt it evoked unpleasant memories of British colonialism, the Red Wedding from "Game of Thrones," and, yes, the infamous Charles and Camilla "Tampongate" scandal. Yet another writer summed up bluntly: "Without sounding rude, this is the worst royal portrait I've ever seen."

One important person begs to differ. Queen Camilla, whose portrait Jonathan Yeo painted back in 2014, reportedly took a sneak peek at her husband's likeness and told Yeo, "Yes, you've got him." Yeo also told the BBC that Charles got a look at the work while it was in progress: "He was initially mildly surprised by the strong color, but otherwise he seemed to be smiling approvingly." The artist explained he didn't want to create a standard portrait. Putting focus on Charles' face, Yeo said, would "allow people to connect with the human being underneath."

Art dealer Philip Mould, whose gallery will display the painting for a month before it goes to Draper's Hall, is also a fan. He told the Daily Mail, "It's the most progressive royal portrait done from life in a very long time. It depicts continuity, mystery, a touch of divinity."