King Charles portrait vandalized with Wallace and Gromit cartoon

King Charles portrait vandalized with Wallace and Gromit cartoon
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Animal rights activists have defaced the first official portrait of King Charles with a cut-out face of a cartoon character at a gallery in London.

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Two activists with Animal Rising stuck a poster from the Wallace and Gromit animated series over the bright red painting on display at the Philip Mould Gallery on Tuesday.

The activists were criticising the welfare standards of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ “assured farm” status program, with Charles being a patron of the RSPCA. The RSPCA is the largest animal welfare charity in the United Kingdom and provides “assured” labels for farms it says meet its welfare standards.

“With King Charles being such a big fan of Wallace and Gromit, we couldn’t think of a better way to draw his attention,” read a statement from activist Daniel Juniper, who was involved in the incident.

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The poster brings the striking oil paining back into the spotlight again after it drew heavily mixed reaction upon its unveiling at Buckingham Palace on May 14. The artwork shows the king staring forward against a cherry red background, wearing the equally vibrant uniform of the Welsh Guards — of which he was once Regimental Colonel. A butterfly hovers over the king’s right shoulder.

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Poster ‘easily removable,’ group says

The activist group has called on the king to suspend his support for the RSPCA, as they recently put out a report saying its members found “factory farming and severe animal cruelty” at 45 different farms with the RSPCA assured designation.

A photo released by Animal Rising shows an activist pasting a picture of a character called Wallace, from the Wallace and Gromit comedy series, over a portrait of King Charles at the Philip Mould Gallery in London, on Tuesday. (Animal Rising via The Associated Press)

Animal Rising said the Wallace and Gromit poster is “easily removable without causing damage to the painting,” the group said. The gallery also confirmed no harm was done to the artwork.

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Wallace and Gromit is a popular stop-motion British series following the lives of Wallace, a bumbling, cheese-loving inventor, and Gromit, his loyal beagle.

Artist Jonathan Yeo began work on the painting in June 2021, when Charles was still the Prince of Wales. Charles became King when his mother, Queen Elizabeth, died in September 2022.

His coronation was held in May 2023.

The portrait will be on display at the Philip Mould Gallery until June 14. It will later be shown in Drapers’ Hall, another venue in London. 

The portrait was commissioned to celebrate Charles’s 50 years as a member of the Drapers’ Company, which began as a trade group about 600 years ago and is now a grant-giving body.

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