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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Animal Rights Activists Target King Charles’ Portrait

Animal rights activists defaced King Charles III's official portrait to protest alleged cruelty on RSPCA-certified farms, sparking an investigation.

Animal rights activists defaced King Charles III’s first official portrait since his coronation during an exhibition at the Philip Mould Gallery in London. On June 11, two supporters from Animal Rising pasted a cartoon image of Wallace, from the popular British animation “Wallace and Gromit,” over the King’s face. They added a speech bubble reading, “No Cheese Gromit. Look At All This Cruelty On RSPCA Farms!” The portrait by Jonathan Yeo, known for its dramatic red hues, was unveiled in May 2023 and has been on public display since May 16.

The activists’ actions were intended to draw attention to a new report by Animal Rising, which alleges widespread animal cruelty at 45 randomly sampled farms certified by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The group describes itself as a nonviolent organization advocating for a sustainable future where humans share a positive relationship with animals and nature.

Animal Welfare Allegations

The Animal Rising report, published on June 9, details alleged “cruelty and suffering” at farms under the RSPCA Assured program, which guarantees higher welfare standards from birth to slaughter. Findings included dead pigs in farm walkways, dead baby chickens, and salmon infested with sea lice. King Charles, 75, serves as the royal patron of the RSPCA, continuing a legacy from his mother, Queen Elizabeth.

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Daniel Juniper, one of the activists, stated, “With King Charles being such a big fan of Wallace and Gromit, we couldn’t think of a better way to draw his attention to the horrific scenes on RSPCA Assured farms.” Animal Rising called for the King to suspend his support for the RSPCA until it discontinues the Assured Scheme.

Official Reactions and Investigations

The Philip Mould Gallery confirmed that the portrait was protected by plastic and undamaged. An RSPCA spokesperson expressed shock at the vandalism, stating, “We welcome scrutiny of our work, but we cannot condone illegal activity of any kind.” The organization emphasized that it takes all allegations seriously and has launched an urgent investigation into the claims made by Animal Rising.

The portrait, commissioned in 2020 to celebrate Charles’ 50 years as a member of The Draper’s Company, measures approximately 8 ½ by 6 ½ feet. The unveiling, which took place at Buckingham Palace on May 14, sparked mixed reactions, with Queen Camilla reportedly saying, “Yes, you’ve got him,” when she first saw it.

Despite the protest, there are no charges against the activists. Animal Rising continues to urge the RSPCA to advocate for a transition to a plant-based food system. Orla Coghlan, an Animal Rising spokesperson, said, “The RSPCA needs to take a bolder stance on the transition to a plant-based food system, beginning with calls for drastic meat reduction. The charity can lead the way for animals in the UK, rather than keeping them in misery.”

King Charles has not commented on the incident. The protest is part of a broader trend of activist disruptions at UK museums and galleries, including recent attacks on the Magna Carta and Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”