Prince Charles was 40 when he sat for this portrait in his garden at Highgrove, Gloucestershire.

The prince had met Tom Wood in 1987 and initiated the sitting himself. Wood was given up to 10 sittings at Highgrove, affording him almost unparalleled access to his royal subject.

The resulting portrait is complex both in its composition and its imagery. The prince is shown wearing a suit and tie, surrounded by important symbols of his life. Behind him is the façade of his neoclassical home, a reflection of his interest in architecture, while on the right-hand side of the picture are shown a tree and a lemon, symbols of his passion for horticulture and the environment. Other symbols in the picture include a stylised feather, recalling the features of the Prince of Wales’ badge, and a plinth decorated with an antique relief of a lion’s head, which may refer to British royalty, as well as to courage. On either side of the prince are shadowy presences of his likeness, creating a composition similar to Anthony van Dyck’s celebrated triple portrait of Charles I.

Tom Wood trained as an artist at Sheffield Polytechnic and Leeds Metropolitan University. Portraiture has become a regular aspect of his work, and his commissions have included likenesses of Alan Bennett and Robert Winston for the National Portrait Gallery.

Wood’s portrait of the prince was greeted with critical acclaim, and the painting was for many years displayed on loan at the National Portrait Gallery. It now joins the collection of the Grosvenor Museum, where it has particular resonance due to the prince’s titles, including that of Earl of Chester.


The artist; Sold Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd., London, 1989; Private Collection, UK; Long-term loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London, 1990-2012; Purchased Philip Mould & Company, London, 2016.

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