The First Official Portrait of King Charles III Has Been Revealed

The artist of the portrait hoped to capture the monarch's "warmth and empathy."

When it comes to being a member of the royal family, there are countless traditions to follow, many of which date back centuries. Everything from holidays to birthdays has some sort of traditional element to it, including some lesser-known traditions like swan upping.

One royal tradition is the execution of official royal family portraits. In fact, royal portraits began in the 15th century and have survived and evolved to the modern day.

The late Queen Elizabeth II had more than 960 official royal portraits done over her 70-year reign. Now, ahead of King Charles III‘s coronation, we have a glimpse at his newest official portrait.

Is there an official portrait of King Charles III?

Yes, there is now an official portrait of King Charles III. Prior to his coronation on May 6, the portrait—featured below—is the first official portrait of the king since becoming monarch. Historic magazine Illustrated London News commissioned the portrait in honor of its Coronation Edition issue.

Unveiled in London, the oil painting presents the king in a blue pinstripe suit with his hand in his pocket, a light pink tie, a similarly light pocket square and a bracelet that maintains a special context behind it. The bracelet was given to King Charles by Domingo Peas, an Amazon indigenous leader.

“The artist included the bracelet to give the portrait context and authenticity, a symbol of The King’s advocacy on climate change and sustainability,” Illustrated London News wrote in their official release of the portrait. Throughout the painting, the artist includes several intentional details.

Who painted King Charles’ official portrait?

Alastair Barford, an artist who is no stranger to producing royal portraits, painted the up-close image, an endeavor Barford called “a terrifying honor.” After studying the monarch at a Buckingham Palace reception promoting biodiversity, Barford completed the painting in just two weeks.

“It’s a great responsibility to create a portrait of someone who means so much to so many people. I also felt disbelief and, until I physically stood near The King in Buckingham Palace, I wasn’t entirely convinced the commission would materialize,” Barford says of the work.

Barford additionally expressed that he wanted to create a “more personal, intimate portrait of the man.” Rather than the role of monarch, Barford aims to focus on the “warmth and empathy” of the king.

What other monarch has Barford painted a portrait of?

In 2015, Barford created a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The painting was again commissioned by Illustrated London News. This time, the portrait honored Queen Elizabeth’s feat of becoming the longest-reigning monarch of Britain. At the time, it was Barford’s first portrait commission.

Next, take a look at some of the photos of Queen Elizabeth before she became monarch.

The Princess of Wales wears a Bellville Sassoon dress to the London premiere of the Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only', 24th June 1981.Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

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Jessica Kaplan
Jessica Kaplan is an assistant editor who has written lifestyle content for Reader’s Digest, Family Handyman and The Healthy. Her expertise includes travel and restaurant news. These days, she creates timely trend content for Taste of Home. When she’s not writing, Jessica is bound to be planning out her next trip, trying out a new coffee spot or listening to a podcast.