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Catherine, Princess of Wales portrait becomes latest royal painting to spark debate

<i>Yui Mok/Reuters via CNN Newsource</i><br/>The Princess of Wales is pictured at the state banquet on November 21
Yui Mok/Reuters via CNN Newsource
The Princess of Wales is pictured at the state banquet on November 21

By Jack Guy, CNN

(CNN) — A new portrait of Catherine, Princess of Wales has stoked controversy online, with some royal fans criticizing the work for its portrayal of the future British Queen.

The painting, by British-Zambian artist Hannah Uzor, features on the cover of the July issue of Tatler magazine. It aims to honor the “strength and dignity” of the princess, according to a statement from the publication sent to CNN Thursday.

It depicts Catherine during her appearance at the first state banquet of King Charles III’s reign, and Uzor said she studied photographs of the princess in the process of creating the work.

“When you can’t meet the sitter in person, you have to look at everything you can find and piece together the subtle human moments revealed in different photographs: do they have a particular way of standing or holding their head or hands? Do they have a recurrent gesture?,” she said in the statement.

Uzor also revealed that Kate’s recent video announcing a cancer diagnosis informed the work.

“All my portraits are made up of layers of a personality, constructed from everything I can find about them,” she said in the statement.

However, not everybody appreciated the portrayal of the princess.

“This is dreadful – somehow, I’m not sure the artist is a fan of the Princess – it looks like a bad GCSE project,” reads one comment under a post from Tatler on X.

“This looks nothing like the Princess of Wales. It’s so awful, it’s disrespectful,” reads another.

“I agree with the sentiments of strength and dignity but the portrait lacks any resemblance to the Princess of Wales,” said another.

However, some did praise the work, with one calling the painting “beautiful.”

“Am I the only person who likes this? It’s art, not a photo,” wrote another commenter.

And it wasn’t just social media users who reacted to the painting.

Alastair Sooke, chief art critic at UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, said in an article that the painting was “intolerably bad” and “shows no flicker of resemblance to its subject.”

“Has there been a flatter, more lifeless royal portrait in living memory?” Sooke wrote. “Beneath a Lego-like helmet of unmodulated, monotonously brown ‘hair,’ this Princess of Wales has as much charisma as a naff figurine atop a wedding cake.”

Kate Mansey, royal editor at The Times of London, was also non-plus.

“I’m not quite sure what to say about this one, except, hmm…” she wrote on X.

The backlash follows a similar discussion surrounding the first official portrait of King Charles III since his coronation, which was revealed earlier this month.

The 8.5 by 6.5-foot painting by British artist Jonathan Yeo depicts the monarch wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, sword in hand, against a fiery red background that appears to almost swallow him whole, as a butterfly looks like it’s about to land on his shoulder.

While the King is reportedly happy with the portrait, others criticized the lurid red brushstrokes, with one person likening it to a “poster for a horror film.”

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