Bloody kings

Does anyone like King Charles’ official portrait? I understand the artist didn’t intend this, but I look at it and see imperialism soaking in blood.

The BBC calls it “vibrant”, but they would. The butterfly seems like an ironic touch, or maybe a reference to the flitting silliness of the man’s brain.

I actually rather like the painting for it’s weirdness and the ability to read whatever I want into it — and I don’t like royalty, or this dimwitted king, so that’s what I see. You’ll have to come up with your own meaning.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    It reminds me of the portrait of Vigo the Carpathian. The face seems disconnected.
    Also, in real life king prince Charles has ears that stick out more.

  2. Ridana says

    He looks like a ghost emerging from the raggedy peeling wallpaper of an abandoned house in a horror movie.

  3. Matt G says

    Behold the Cheshire King! Would that he would vanish as easily as the cat….

  4. mordred says

    @4 Exactly! The ghost of a long forgotten thing, showing up in an age where it does not belong, to be banned forever by the end of the movie!

    Very fitting. Call the Ghostbusters!

  5. StevoR says

    I don’t know much about Englan’d’s King Charles III but I know what I like..

  6. StevoR says

    .. I also strongly suspect I can guess who “my” (or at least my countries) symbolic hereditary Monarch cheers on during the Ashes too!

    It ain’t Oz.

    We’re still not a Repulic yet, still governed by a figurehead born to the upperest of Upper-upper-upper class English aristocrats? How fucking embarrassing. Sure would suck if Britain became a Republic before we did.

  7. mordred says

    That reminds me, in about a week the trial of that fool Heinrich Prinz Reuß will start.

    The utterly unimportant descendent of some provincial ruling family, he didn’t like democracy, modern Germany and the Jews and thought by storming parliament with some armed like minded thugs he could install a new government with himself as king. Luckily the police found out about their plans before anything could happen.

    Hopefully he and his pals will be locked away for a long time.

  8. felixmagister says

    Oliver Cromwell: “Paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me.”

    Charles III: “Make it red, okay. No, redder than that.”

  9. cjcolucci says

    I King Charles actually approved this unconventional portrait, I think much better of him, entirely apart from my views of the portrait itself.

  10. strangerinastrangeland says

    Artist thinking “What do I do with the dozend buckets of red that my hare-brain assistant accidentally ordered” Wait…”

  11. Tethys says

    It’s a good likeness, and after looking at some photos I can confirm that he indeed has sausage fingers.

    Other than that, it’s a bloody awful portrait. Adding a Monarch butterfly is bizarre. It’s not native to England, and merely adds a touch of cliche to the bad art.

    Holbein? I’m offended that the BBC even mentioned the Master’s name in this context. Holbeins art is absolutely amazing , and this red mess is dreck.

  12. KG says

    this dimwitted king

    Be fair! He may not be very bright, but he must be extremely brave – look at all those medals!

  13. StevoR says

    @ 10 mordred : Meanwhile Trump wants to become effectively King or even Gawd-Emperor of the USoA with unlimited power and he’s well on the way to getting it..

    @8. Personally , I’d like to see Australia become a nation with not a King or a President but instead First Elder chosen by our Indigenous People but then we could’n’t even get thre Indigenous Voice to Parliament through last year. ( ) Disgustingly and depressingly destroyed the same way the 1999 epublic referndum was – by divide and conquer plus scare-mongering lies. ( )


    Anyone else get the pareidolia ( ) of dog faces in the red splotches of this painting? Specifically wirecoat / rough coat “bearded” scruffy terriers e.g. Jack Russells / Border terriers on the right hand side of Charlie de Turd’s head and shoulders? Like patterns in clouds or flames..

  14. robro says

    Autobot Silverwynde @ #22 — As I recall there’s a recording of him saying that’s what he wants to be.

  15. Tethys says

    I prefer Holbein’s portrait of Charles de Solier. Not only is it exquisitely detailed in depicting the fabrics and gold, but the gaze of the subject is riveting.,Sieur_de_Morette&wprov=rarw1#/media/File%3AHans_Holbein_the_YoungerCharles_de_Solier%2C_Sieur_de_Morette-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

    The famous portrait of Henry has a clear affinity with this earlier work.

  16. mizzi says

    How do you know, Charles is dimwitted, prejudiced much? And I rather like the portrait, though I am not sure about the red.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    If The King In Yellow is a thing, why not The King In Red? He just needs to add a lot of cosmic horror.

  18. John Morales says

    Photography was invented some time ago.

    Portraits such as these are made to be flattering, but AI can do that these days, too.

    An old custom where the inferior representation is supposedly better, though it takes longer, is costlier, and is less accurate.

  19. cartomancer says

    Is it only me who can see the little man in a trenchcoat and bucket hat bringing him a cup of tea over his left shoulder?

  20. birgerjohansson says

    At least Vigo The Carpathian (Ghostbusters 2) and Shaddam IV (Dune) had visions for their reign. Mainly evil visions, but they weren’t content to be figureheads.

  21. Rob Grigjanis says

    cartomancer @30:

    the little man in a trenchcoat and bucket hat bringing him a cup of tea over his left shoulder?

    Nonsense. It’s a blonde in a miniskirt.

  22. says

    The arrogance and privilege of people like that is so off the charts it beggars my power of description. It is appalling but mostly hidden from public view. Here is a brief video of Charles, in the midst of signing something making a face for the benefit of an underling and flinging his sausage hands in a shooing motion because he is too exalted to pick up the little tray and move it himself.

  23. phein39 says

    I wish the artist had gone the full Francis Bacon: Screaming King, in a triptych.

  24. John Morales says

    No more anodyne king could there be.

    (PS he’s a bit wokish, in that inimitable British way, best as I can tell. Also, a certain touch of woo)


    Hey, anyone else remember Walton? (A nym here, in days of yore)

  25. Alan G. Humphrey says

    A message to Hanibal Lecter on how he wishes to be served in response to Trump’s passing on the invitation to dinner from Lecter…

    … or he asked the artist to portray everyman’s opinion of how bright he was.

  26. Prax says

    @John Morales #37,

    (PS he’s a bit wokish, in that inimitable British way, best as I can tell. Also, a certain touch of woo)

    Yeah, he’s generally pro-environment, although he continued fox hunting for longer than most woke folks would like. Also generally supportive of indigenous rights and against deportation of migrants. Pretty much silent on LGBTQIA+ issues, but so was his mom, although supposedly (saith Stephen Fry) she was privately in favor of gay marriage. He’ll probably get quieter about all his personal opinions now that he’s king; the Windsors are more strongly committed than the average Starfleet captain to cultural non-interference. They know they’re basically mascots.

    Not a terribly deep thinker by all accounts, but probably smarter than the average Kardashian.

  27. richardh says

    Smart enough politically to make his opinion known without making his opinion known:
    Government: “now you’re king you can’t go to COP27, that would be political”
    KCIII: “Fine. I’ll just host a post-COP26 event right here.”

  28. keinsignal says

    At first glance I immediately thought of Han Solo frozen in carbonite, and the style & color palette is extremely Francis Bacon, but people have already mentioned those, so I’ll just add that in Mexico & elsewhere in Central America, monarch butterflies are associated with the souls of the dead. Dia de los Muertos, if I recall correctly, is timed to happen around the arrival of migrating butterflies. So, I’m going to go ahead and say this portrait is depicting Chuck 3 as some kind of blood-drenched god of death. Very Warhammer 40k really.
    Cripes, I think I just talked myself into liking this painting.

  29. felixmagister says

    What’s curious to me is that the painting of the king himself seems to have been well done in the artistic sense, from the client’s point of view. His face, while recognizable, is shown at its most flattering: “careworn but not unkind, the sort of face you would happily bank with,” as the good book says. His posture likewise, to the extent I can manage to see it. The butterfly is a nice touch, at least assuming the audience is unfamiliar with the native insects of the British Isles (and, to be fair, Charles is also king of Canada, to which the species is native). But, having done all this, the painting then does its level best to ensure that the audience will ignore it all. Surely at some point someone involved must have noticed that the subject appears to be drowning in a sea of blood.

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