‘The Crown’ Creator Peter Morgan Weighs In on King Charles’ Divisive New Portrait: ‘I Cheered It More Than I Booed It’

Peter Morgan, creator of Netflix’s award-winning drama “The Crown,” is weighing in on King Charles III’s new, highly divisive portrait.

“The picture is at least partially successful, I think,” Morgan told me Friday at an FYC event for the “Crown’s” final season. “I belong more to the positive side, but I’m not trying to give it five stars. I’d certainly go three or four out of five. I like that it’s vivid, I love that it’s got us talking, I love that it arouses emotions. It immediately makes you want to look more closely.”

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The portrait, the first of the king since his coronation, was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on May 15. The 8.5 by 6.5-foot painting by British artist Jonathan Yeo proved to be divisive for its bold red hues. The canvas depicts King Charles III wearing a Welsh Guards uniform while holding a sword. A butterfly is depicted just above his right shoulder.

“What an artist has done here is come with authorship,” Morgan said. “What an audience is doing is reacting properly and bringing something of themselves to it. Very often with a royal portrait, people are just saying, ‘Did he get him? Did he not get him?’ as though the absolute achievement would be a likeness. Who’s interested in that?”

He continued, “This artist did achieve a likeness but also achieved a signature, an authorship and brought something of himself to it. I didn’t go, ‘Oh, my God, I want it on my wall,’ but I cheered it more than I booed it.”

Yeo explained his work in a statement released by the palace. “I do my best to capture the life experiences etched into any individual sitter’s face,” he said. “In this case, my aim was also to make reference to the traditions of royal portraiture but in a way that reflects a 21st century monarchy and, above all else, to communicate the subject’s deep humanity.”

Meanwhile, Morgan confirmed he’s still thinking about developing prequel seasons of “The Crown.” “I’ve got a strong idea of how one could continue it in the past,” he said. “That makes me feel like if we all want to go back to it, we can. It was such a joy to write, but I’m now over 60. You have to ask, physically can you continue to do something like that? But there are more stories to tell, more important stories to tell, more vivid stories to tell.”

However, Morgan said, there are non-“Crown” projects he’d like to work on after having to put them aside for the last decade or so. “I’ve got so many of my own trapped ideas that have been imprisoned in the vault,” he said. “Now they can all come out screaming and deranged.”

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