King’s portrait targeted by animal rights activists 

Protestors stuck posters of Wallace and Gromit to the King’s portrait, reacting to a recent “damning” investigation into RSPCA Assured farms.

image of protestor sticking Wallace and Gromit posters to King's portrait
Image: Animal Rising

Two Animal Rising activists entered the Philip Mould gallery yesterday (11th June) and attached the posters to the glass covering the painting of the King.

One poster overlaid King Charles III’s face with a picture of Wallace, whilst another was a speech bubble reading: ‘No cheese Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!’

The message was a reaction to a recent Animal Rising investigation into 45 RSPCA Assured farms.

Animal Rising said the ‘light-hearted action’ played on the King’s love of Wallace and Gromit, and his status as Royal Patron of the RSPCA.

The group is calling on the King to suspend his support for the charity until it drops its Assured scheme.

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“Damning” investigation

The report on RSPCA Assured farms was released by Animal Rising on Sunday. 

It investigated 45 RSPCA Assured chicken, pig, salmon and trout farms across the UK.

According to the group, it found an alleged 280 legal breaches and 94 breaches of Defra regulations. 

It claims it found ‘cruelty and suffering’ at every farm it investigated, including dead and dying baby chickens, dead pigs left in walkways and salmon suffering from sea lice.

READ MORE: King Charles confirmed as patron of food and farming charity 

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Shocking vandalism

An RSPCA spokesperson said the charity welcomes scrutiny of its work but was shocked by the vandalism of its patron’s portrait.

The charity said Animal Rising’s sustained activity is “distracting” from the work that really matters – “helping thousands of animals every day”.

Responding to the group’s criticism of RSPCA Assured, the spokesperson added that the charity “remains confident” that the scheme is the best way to help farmed animals right now, while campaigning to change their lives in the future.

“RSPCA higher welfare standards have been independently proven to make lives better for millions of animals every year.

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“It is the difference between a hen spending her life in a cage, or not. A mother pig giving birth in a farrowing crate, or not.

“Pigs having comfortable bedding to sleep on, or not. It means salmon have compulsory veterinary health welfare plans, and stocking density is half that seen in America.

“An independent review of RSPCA Assured in 2021 found it was making a ‘positive and significant impact on improving the lives of 136 million animals a year in the UK’.”

However, the charity said it takes any welfare concerns on certified farms “extremely seriously”.

RSPCA Assured is “acting swiftly” to look into the allegations, and launched an immediate, urgent investigation after receiving the footage on Sunday.

portrait of the king by Jonathan Yeo
Image: Philip Mould Gallery.

“Unblemished and resolute”

The Philip Mould gallery has confirmed the portrait of King Charles III, painted by Jonathan Yeo, is unharmed.

It said on Facebook: ‘We are pleased to report that contrary to any speculation, #TheButterflyPortrait by Jonathan Yeo remains unblemished and resolute.’

The portrait, unveiled last month, was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then Prince of Wales’s 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company in 2022.

Yeo had four sittings with the King, beginning when His Majesty was Prince of Wales in June 2021 at Highgrove. 

The last sitting took place in November 2023 at Clarence House.

Role in public life transformed

Commenting on his experience, the artist said: “When I started this project, His Majesty the King was still His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, and much like the butterfly I’ve painted hovering over his shoulder, this portrait has evolved as the subject’s role in our public life has transformed.”

Yeo has previously painted the Duchess of Cornwall, now the Queen, and the late Duke of Edinburgh.

The King’s portrait is on public display at the Philip Mould gallery in London until 21st June 2024. It is expected to be displayed at Draper’s Hall from the end of August.

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