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8 striking royal portraits of Princess Kate, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry and more

There have been some memorable royal paintings through the years

Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
15 May 2024
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The first official portrait of King Charles since the coronation has proven divisive.

The fiery red painting by British artist Jonathan Yeo depicts King Charles in the uniform of the Welsh Guards, of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975.

The painter also added a butterfly hovering by the King's shoulder, in a nod to his passion for the environment and nature, as well as a "symbol of metamorphosis" to reference his accession to the throne midway through sittings for the portrait.

It's not the first time a royal portrait has garnered mixed reactions – there has been many contemporary and unusual artworks of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince Harry over the years.

From Andy Warhol's pop art print of Her Late Majesty to Paul Elmsley's controversial portrait of Princess Kate, take a look through some of the most striking royal paintings.

Andy Warhol's print of Queen Elizabeth II© Getty

Queen Elizabeth II by Andy Warhol

The iconic screen-prints of the late Queen by the American artist in 1985 were created from a portrait of Elizabeth II from her Silver Jubilee. It was part of a series called Reigning Queens, which featured 16 images of the late Queen, Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Queen Ntfombi Twala of Swaziland. The prints were then covered in diamond dust, which created a sparkly effect. And it seems that the British royal family loved them as four prints of the late Queen were acquired by the Royal Collection in 2012.

Portrait of Kate Middleton by Paul Emsley© Getty

The Princess of Wales by Paul Emsley

The first official painted portrait of the then Duchess of Cambridge was released in 2013, with William and Kate attending the unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery. Kate had selected British artist, Paul Emsley, to create the artwork, but the finished piece sparked considerable criticism. But Kate praised the portrait as "brilliant, amazing, absolutely brilliant," while her husband said it was "absolutely beautiful".

Elizabeth Peyton's painting of Prince Harry© Getty

Prince Harry by Elizabeth Peyton

This bright artwork of the young prince in 1998 was painted by American artist Elizabeth Peyton, based off a photograph of Harry as he started at Eton College.

Portrait of the Duchess of Cornwall by Ruth Heppel© Getty

Queen Camilla by Ruth Heppel

Ruth Heppel was commissioned to create this painting of then Duchess of Cornwall in 2014, which was unveiled at the Helen & Douglas House Hospice in Oxfordshire to mark its tenth anniversary.

Victoria Crowe's painting of Charles© Getty

King Charles by Victoria Crowe

The first specially-commissioned portrait of then Prince Charles to enter Scotland's national art collection was unveiled in Edinburgh in 2018. The artwork by Victoria Crowe was painted in oil on linen and shows Charles deep in thought against a landscape.  

Jamie Coreth's portrait of William and Kate© Getty

The Prince and Princess of Wales by Jamie Coreth

The piece by award-winning British artist Jamie Coreth marked the first joint portrait of William and Kate, with the couple viewing it in-person at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridgeshire in 2022, just a few months before they became the Prince and Princess of Wales. It depicts Kate in a shimmery green dress by The Vampire's Wife and William in a black suit. Jamie said of the commission that he "wanted to show Their Royal Highnesses in a manner where they appeared both relaxed and approachable, as well as elegant and dignified".

Portrait Of Prince William And Prince Harry by Nicky Phillips© Getty

Prince William and Prince Harry by Nicky Phillips

The first joint oil painting of the royal brothers was unveiled in 2010, depicting them in uniform when they were both serving officers in the Household Cavalry (the 'Blues and Royals').

Lucien Freud's painting of Lucien Freud© Getty

Queen Elizabeth by Lucien Freud

This painting of the late Queen, presented to the monarch in 2002, also received mixed reactions. Using thick, heavy brushstrokes, Lucien created a close-up of Elizabeth II's face, complete with a diamond diadem and pearl jewellery.  

LISTEN: Prince Harry sent Invictus Service tickets to dad King Charles and brother Prince William


Princess Kate wearing black and white polka dots and a hat

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