Climate Demonstrators Turn King Charles' Portrait Into Cartoon to Protest Animal Cruelty — Details

The painting wasn't damaged during the protest.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Jun. 11 2024, Published 2:30 p.m. ET

The official portrait of King Charles both after and before the protest
Source: animal.rising/Instagram, Getty Images

King Charles may be seeing red (pun intended) after his controversial official portrait was used as part of a protest against RSPCA Assured farms. An animal rights group staged the display, and is calling on the monarch to get involved and to put an end to alleged cruelty taking place at certain farms included under the RSPCA Assured banner.

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Learn more about what the RSPCA stands accused of, the cartoony demonstration, and what consequences protesters could face, below.

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Animal Rising turned King Charles' portrait into a cartoon to protest RSPA farms for animal cruelty.

On June 11, 2024, the environmental animal rights group Animal Rising sent protesters to the Philip Mould gallery in London, where they placed two posters onto the glass covering the king's official portrait. One poster depicts the face of Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, and the other is a speech bubble making Wallace say, "No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!"

According to the BBC, the painting was not damaged during the afternoon event, and the posters that were stuck to the glass were quickly removed by gallery staff. As for the protesters, they left when they were asked to. No arrests were made — the Metropolitan Police weren't even called by anyone officially, and instead only came out after seeing the social media coverage — and a rep from the gallery said that they didn't wish to file any charges.

So what exactly was the meaning of this protest?

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Animal Rising hopes this protest will get the king to take another look at cruelty on RSPCA farms.

According to the protesters, they opted to use the image of Wallace from the British TV series Wallace and Gromit since it's a well-known favorite series of the monarch. Not to mention, the character Wallace is known for loving cheese. The protesters are hoping their decision to use this cartoon character in particular will endear their cause to King Charles, who serves as Royal Patron of the RSPCA, aka the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which stands accused of scores of acts of animal cruelty.

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"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," Daniel Juniper, one of the protesters involved in the incident said in a statement. "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."

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Reports have found cruelty on animal farms that are RSPCA Assured.

Animal Rising released a report just days before going to the gallery that detailed what allegedly includes 280 legal breaches and nearly 100 regulatory breaches on RSPCA Assured farms, including the presence of dead and rotting animals at several different locations. The group also shared a petition to drop the Assured "scheme," which they say farms use as a label to sway consumers into believing that the animals are being kept in a cruelty-free environment.

Concerns over these animals range from the ethical to the legal. Crown court judge and specialist barrister in animal welfare Ayesha Smart has gone on the record calling the "RSPCA Assured" label fraud as it pertains to truth in advertising. Smart says that some of these farms aren't even in compliance with the most basic requirements, let alone the higher standard that is expected to come along with the RSPCA Assured title.

As of the time of publication, the royal family had yet to respond to Animal Rising's protest. Meanwhile, the petition has gotten over 5,500 of its hoped 20,000 signatures. Whether any of this is enough to get the king's attention remains to be seen, but what does appear certain is the fact that the Animal Rising group has certainly succeeded when it comes to raising awareness about what is happening on these RSPCA Assured farms.

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