Skip to main contentSkip to footer
Digital Cover royalty

What King Charles really thought of Jonathan Yeo’s divisive viral ‘red’ portrait months before unveiling

Andrea Caamano
Website Editor
Updated: May 25, 2024
Share this:

When Jonathan Yeo unveiled his official painting of King Charles last week, the portrait; titled ‘HM King Charles III’ took the world – and the internet – by storm. His use of the colour red on the 8-foot canvas was the subject of thousands of memes and TikTok videos. It was a reaction the artist, who has painted several members of the royal family during his career, had not anticipated.

In this week’s A Right Royal Podcast, which you can listen to below, host Andrea Caamano and HELLO!’s royal editor Emily Nash had the pleasure of catching up with the renowned artist to talk about his painting, which was four years in the making. We got the lowdown on some of the hilarious reactions that entertained the world – and his two daughters, and what the King really thought of it.

LISTEN: Jonathan Yeo reveals the biggest challenge he faced when painting King Charles

In the new episode, which you can listen to below, Jonathan opens up about his four-hour-long sittings with the King, some of which happened before he ascended to the throne. Also, how the Monarch reacted to his use of colour red in their last sitting, which took place last November.

King Charles and Jonathan Yeo stand in front of portrait© Alamy
The King unveiled the portrait painted by Jonathan Yeo last week

“When I showed it to him back in November, when it was sort of three-quarters done… certainly the face was done, body was sketched and the colour was mostly pretty much as it was, in the end. If he'd been appalled, I think, I might have rethought it and toned it down a bit. But he didn't seem that way,” Jonathan reveals.

Why the use of red? The painter explains: “That was something I'd made an early decision to try out. Because I thought it was an interesting colour and you want it to be interesting.

King Charles unveils portrait painting at Buckingham Palace© Alamy
The King officially unveiled the portrait at Buckingham Palace with Queen Camilla by his side

Did he know the use of the colour would be so divisive?  “I didn't think it was a risky thing to do, I thought it was an interesting colour,” he says.

“It was a more formal commission than I'm used to," adds Jonathan of the high-profile job. The painter was given a specific size by The Drapers Company "because I had to match some other royal portraits they have in their hall". He was also told that Charles must be in uniform, "the Welsh Guard’s tunic with its bright red colour." So, his goal was "to figure out how to incorporate that."

Artist Jonathan Yeo, at the unveiling of artist Jonathan Yeo's portrait of the King© Alamy
Artist Jonathan is no stranger to capturing royal portraits

In his chat with Andrea and Emily, Jonathan also reveals if the monarch made contact with him after the picture went viral, as well as detailing which were the most difficult parts of the artwork to paint.


Princess Kate wearing black and white polka dots and a hat

If you are reading this, the chances are you are obsessed with all things royalty – which is just as well because so are we! So obsessed, in fact, we’ve launched a club solely dedicated to covering them. So welcome to The HELLO! Royal Club. We would love you to join us there…

What is it?

Interactive community offering behind-the-scenes access, exclusive royal interviews, unmissable royal insights, and an illustrious royal Inner Circle.

Member benefits

  • Two weekly newsletters, one from Emily Nash
  • Video posts and audio notes from Emily Nash and the HELLO! Royal team
  • Access to our royal community and opportunity to interact with club writers and members
  • Participate in polls, comments and discussion threads
  • Royal-themed puzzles with a weekly prize to be won
  • Access to our Ask Me Anything sessions with our journalists
  • Invitations to in-person and virtual events
  • A subscription to the digital edition of HELLO! Magazine (Worth £82 annually)*
  • Future ‘Inner Circle’ benefits

By royal decree

You are royally invited to join The HELLO! Royal Club – and then to go forth and spread the word to your fellow royal fans. See you in the club!

In this episode, we also catch up with Prince Harry’s good friend David Wiseman, who travelled with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to Nigeria earlier this month.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Royalty

See more