King Charles’ new portrait covered in graffiti by activists at London gallery

The first official portrait of King Charles III since his coronation has been covered in posters by activists at a London gallery.

Animal Rising campaigners plastered Wallace and Gromit-themed posters onto the new painting of the monarch, which is currently on public display at the Philip Mould Gallery in London, at around midday on Tuesday.

The group shared a video of two of its supporters pasting the face of the animated character Wallace over Charles’s on the red-hued painting by Jonathan Yeo. They also stuck on a speech bubble, which read in capitals: “No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!”

The demonstration was aimed at highlighting Animal Rising’s “damning investigation” into 45 RSPCA “assured” farms, the group said.

It added that the protest was a “comic redecoration” and said the posters were affixed using water sprayed on to the back, so they could be easily removed.

It is understood the painting is behind Perspex and so no damage has occurred.

The group said the “light-hearted action played on the King’s love of Wallace and Gromit”.

The Queen once revealed that inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit – the stop-motion animation stars of hit Aardman films including The Wrong Trousers and A Grand Day Out – were her husband’s “favourite people in the world”.

The King is royal patron of the RSPCA, and Animal Rising called on the monarch to suspend his support for the charity.

The RSPCA said it is shocked at the “vandalism” of the portrait. It said it launched an “immediate, urgent” investigation and is taking the concerns over animal welfare at the farms “extremely seriously”. However, the charity said it remains confident its scheme is the best way to currently help farmed animals.

Daniel Juniper, a former early years practitioner and one of those involved, said: “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.

“Even though we hope this is amusing to His Majesty, we also call on him to seriously reconsider if he wants to be associated with the awful suffering across farms being endorsed by the RSPCA.

“Charles has made it clear he is sensitive to the suffering of animals in UK farms; now is the perfect time for him to step up and call on the RSPCA to drop the Assured Scheme and tell the truth about animal farming.”

The report, released by Animal Rising on Sunday, contains findings from investigations on 45 farms across the UK featuring chickens, pigs, salmon, and trout.

It alleges 280 legal breaches and 94 breaches of Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) regulations, with Animal Rising calling on the RSPCA to drop the scheme.

Animal Rising describes itself as a non-violent, people-powered organisation working towards a sustainable future where humanity shares a positive relationship with animals and nature.

Gallery owner Philip Mould said: “We had anticipated that there might be these type of responses. [The painting] is safely secured in its frame with protective layers. One always lives with that thought these days. I wasn’t hugely surprised.

“The attack on the picture was not actually of a serious nature. The perpetrators put water on the surface very quickly in a swift manoeuvre and then they added stickers to that. No damage was done. The stickers only remained up for about 10 or 15 seconds, and then were taken down by my gallery staff. I asked the individuals to leave and they did.”

He added that a police report had been filed and security was being reviewed at the site.

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