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Related Explainer: What's This Picture Of King Charles Seemingly Staring At You From The Pit Of Hell? Memes About The King's Official Portrait Explained


King Charles' Portrait refers to the first official portrait of King Charles III since his coronation in May 2023. The portrait, done by artist Jonathan Yeo, features Charles' face while his body blends into a bright red background. The portrait drew strong reactions and jokes on social media, with some claiming it looked demonic, as though Charles was in the fires of hell. After emerging online in mid-May 2024, the artwork inspired numerous memes using it as an exploitable format.


On May 14th, 2024, the first official portrait of King Charles,[1] painted by artist Jonathan Yeo, was unveiled at Buckingham Palace (shown below).

The striking red color is intended to reference the Welsh Guards military unit. Yeo, who had previously done a portrait of Charles' father, Prince Philip, said, "My aim was also to make reference to the traditions of Royal portraiture but in a way that reflects a 21st Century Monarchy and, above all else, to communicate the subject's deep humanity."[2] Queen Camilla was reportedly a fan of the painting, telling Yeo, "Yes, you've got him."[3]


The painting received much more divided reactions online than the praise it reportedly received from the Royal Family. On May 14th, 2024, X / Twitter user @MyArrse[4] wrote that it looks "absolutely fecking hideous," "like he is burning in hell." The post gained over 1,300 retweets and 3,100 likes in one day (shown below, left).

Also that day, Twitter user @drphiliplee1[5] jokingly called the painting "a portal into the nether realm and a conduit for millennia old evil" in a parody tweet that gained over 290 retweets and 1,100 likes (shown below, right).

JmRoyle #LFC #YNWA #BLM #GTTO @MyArrse King Charles new portrait is absolutely fecking hideous, looks like he is burning in hell.
Dr Philip Lee @drphiliplee1 Wanted: painter for official portrait of His Majesty King Charles. Must have prior portrait experience, ability to make painting a portal into the nether realm and a conduit for millennia old evil non essential but desirable.

The image inspired myriad Photoshop memes online as well, including a thread on the subreddit /r/photoshopbattles.[8] For example, on May 15th, Twitter user @EmmaTolkin[6] edited the portrait into a photo of deep dish pizza, gaining over 20 retweets and 340 likes in one hour (shown below, left).

On the same day, Twitter user @scadarts[7] posted an edit of the painting that replaced Charles with the Star Wars character Emperor Palpatine, gaining over 10 retweets and 60 likes in a matter of hours (shown below, right).


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