RSPCA 'shocked' after King's official portrait at London gallery vandalised

RSPCA 'shocked' after King's official portrait at London gallery vandalised

RSPCA has said it’s “shocked” after Animal Rising protesters vandalised a new portrait of King Charles at the Philip Mould gallery in central London.

The activists plastered the face of an animated character from Wallace and Gromit in a demonstration attacking the RSPCA.

Animal Rising shared a video of campaigners pasting Wallace’s face over Charles’s and adding a speech bubble on the painting by Jonathan Yeo.

The speech bubble read in capitals: “No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!”

The portrait is on public display at the Philip Mould Gallery in London in Pall Mall, St James’s.

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.

 (Animal Rising /PA Wire)
(Animal Rising /PA Wire)

Daniel Juniper, 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 group is aiming to raise awareness for their recent investigation into 45 RSPCA Assured farms where they allegedly found 280 legal breaches and 94 breaches of DEFRA regulations.

The activists claim to have found animal cruelty and suffering at each farm, including alleged scenes of dead and dying baby chickens, dead pigs left in farm walkways, and salmon being eaten alive by sea lice.

Animal Rising spokesman Orla Coghlan said: “Just as Feathers McGraw fooled Wallace into a bank heist, the RSPCA has been fooling the British public into thinking their factory farms are - in any way - an acceptable place for animals to live.

“It’s clear from the scenes across 45 RSPCA Assured farms that there’s no kind way to farm animals.

“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, once again, lead the way for animals in the UK, rather than keeping them in misery.”

But an RSPCA spokesperson said they were “shocked” by the vandalism.

“We welcome scrutiny of our work, but we cannot condone illegal activity of any kind. Our staff and volunteers work extremely hard rescuing, caring for, and speaking up for animals.

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

“We remain confident that our RSPCA Assured scheme is the best way to help farmed animals right now, while campaigning to change their lives in the future.”

The spokesperson added that any concerns about welfare on RSPCA Assured certified farms were taken extremely seriously and an investigation had already been launched.

“RSPCA Assured is acting swiftly to look into these allegations. After receiving the footage on Sunday, RSPCA Assured has launched an immediate, urgent investigation. We have responded openly and transparently to Animal Rising’s challenges to our farming work,” the RSPCA spokesperson said.

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.

“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.”

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

Some 10,000 visitors have seen the portrait of the King at the gallery in the last two weeks, with many visibly moved by the work, Mr Mould added.

Renowned artist Yeo was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then-Prince of Wales’s 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company.

The painting depicts the royal wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975.