Dubai-based artist gifts royal family coronation painting highlighting UK-UAE connection

Sacha Jafri speaks to Khaleej Times on how King Charles III’s visits have led him to develop personal relationship with Islam, the people, architectural heritage and royal families

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 1 Jun 2023, 7:45 PM

To commemorate the ascension of the new British monarch, celebrated artist Sacha Jafri's artwork titled "The Coronation of King Charles III", that has been selected as a special present for the Dubai Royal Family, reflects the Monarch’s profound love for the UAE, nurtured through his various visits here.

The artist spoke to Khaleej Times on Thursday on how King Charles III’s several visits here have led him to develop a personal relationship with Islam, the people, the architectural heritage and the royal families of the UAE; all of which can be felt in his emotive painting.

He says, “Between the UK and the UAE it’s about the right intentions, it’s about reconnecting humanity. There's COP 28 coming up, which is really important. The UK is very involved, and the UAE is obviously hosting it. There are various partnerships between the two countries with regards to sustainability. That's really important to me, and I wanted the painting to reflect that leading up to COP 28 and the long term relationship between the two countries, (I wanted the painting to reflect) the importance of the relationship between the Royal families with the Al Nahyan and Al Maktoum family over time with the late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Sheikh Zayed.”

“I wanted it to not only reflect that long-term relationship but also the future relationship through partnerships and sustainability programmes in conservation, and in a more conscious vision for the future of our world and for our children. I think the UAE and the UK are very aligned on that. So, it's beautiful to think that this painting amplifies that relationship,” Jafri adds.

The artist also elucidated about his perspective on the large-scale 3 x 3 metre canvas that celebrates the ethos behind King Charles III’s reign, depicting his sense of duty and future visions for the United Kingdom.

He says, “I was approached by Simon Penney, the British Consulate General to the UAE. But they also have the embassy in Dubai and he (Penney) is also His Majesty’s trade commissioner to the MENA region. It’s a really an honour to be approached by him to be commissioned to create this painting to celebrate King Charles III's coronation and create a painting that is then a gift for the ruling Al Maktoum family. I think it's a big honour, to be asked to do that painting. I wanted to create something a little bit different that one would normally imagine as a coronation painting.”

Jafri underlines that 70 per cent of the collection was curated by him at the British Embassy in Dubai on the coronation day with the remaining being completed at his studio later. He explains that the painting that took only two weeks to finish encompasses a wide range of elements, from capturing moments of Penny Mordaunt holding “the sword of state” during the coronation to featuring the Commonwealth and the Prince’s Trust logos.

King Charles's core values and visionary stance on sustainability

These carefully selected items aim to symbolise King Charles's core values, interests, and his visionary perspective on the past, present, and future just as the painting makes several references to the importance of sustainability.

He adds, “You would normally imagine His Majesty King Charles sitting on the throne. What I wanted was to create something that showed the human side of the Monarch and showed his softer side. People forget that he is also a human being. So, I wanted to show that he's a very compassionate man. He cares about the three main things. He really focuses on conservation, sustainability and heritage. All his work (has been) through the Prince's Trust on uniting all faiths and embracing all faiths within the country and helping minority groups and giving voices to those otherwise often wouldn't.

“He works on a very hands-on ground basis and visits these communities himself. I think that's really important. So, I wanted to get that across in the painting. You wouldn't normally envisage a royal painting to have hearts around it. But that's my style and I wanted to show the love, the empathy and compassion and his vision for the future.”

Adjacent to King Charles’s head rests a photograph featuring exposed feet, subtly alluding to environmentalism.

Positioned above the King, an arrow directs attention to his scepter while bearing his historically vocal position as a “defender of all faiths."

“then the most important thing, is the fact that every Monarch up till now has been the defender of the faith. So, Queen Elizabeth II, the defender of the faith, whereas King Charles is the first monarch to make a statement that he is King Charles III, the defender of all faiths. He's made a point of saying that and that is now his official title. That is obviously a central part of the painting.”

Just a short distance away on the canvas, clearly labelled symbols representing the world's prominent religions are thoughtfully arranged. These additions serve as visual representations, effectively illustrating the philosophical perspectives embraced by the new King.

He says, “Then it's about the next generation and how to bring them up in a more sustainable world, which is why you've got the two little footprints to the left of his head, surrounded by green, the flourishing green of our world the trees blossoming, the flowers, the flora, the fauna, the insects, the wildlife, blossoming in a more conscious world, with a reunited humanity, thinking about the conservation of our world and of all humanity. That's what I wanted this piece to reflect.”

“Now I am waiting for the right moment to gift it to the Al Maktoum family,” adds Jafri.


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