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Coronation caricatures: Has Charlie Hebdo gone too far?

Coronation caricatures: Has Charlie Hebdo gone too far?
Coronation caricatures: Has Charlie Hebdo gone too far? Copyright Charlie Hebdo
Copyright Charlie Hebdo
By David Mouriquand
Published on Updated
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The latest issue of controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is out, and features a coronation caricature that aims to shock those eagerly awaiting Charles III's ascension to the throne this weekend...

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French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has released its newest issue and controversy awaits... 

Predictably, with the upcoming coronation of King Charles III this weekend, the cover features the soon-to-be king, with the title: “A successful coronation”.

So far, so tame. However, the cover image depicts a cretinous-looking Charles wearing his late wife Diana’s maggot-filled skull on his head, with both William and Harry exclaiming: “Even mum came!”

Distasteful, maybe, but definitely on brand for a publication that has never been accused of lacking temerity. The image clearly shows that Charlie Hebdo has had enough of the chokehold the coronation currently has on the media, and reflects the sentiment still held by a great number of the British public that Camilla is not deserving of the title of Queen.

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo's latest coverCharlie Hebdo

With Charlie Hebdo’s cover in mind (it’s a hard image to shake, to be fair), here are some of the best and most controversial caricatures released prior to the coronation.

Peter Brookes
Harry and the sacred textsPeter Brookes

A recent caricature from Peter Brookes in The Times sees Prince Harry distributing sacred texts at the coronation. The release of his book ‘Spare’ further widened the rift in the royal family - even if the Prince will be in attendance for the big day. Euronews Culture spoke to royal commentator and biographer Angela Levin about 'Spare', Harry’s accusations, and how the negative ripple effects created by Harry’s revelations could irreversibly damage the monarchy – an interview in which she called Harry “a neurotic bully”.

Marian Kamesky
The King and The Queen CamillaMarian Kamesky

Another caricature published last month (30 April 2023) from Austrian caricaturist Marian Kamesky, titled ‘The King and The Queen Camilla’, plays on the well-trodden stereotype that the two future monarchs complement each other well… as well as mockingly highlighting the fact that many have described Camilla’s face as horsey. It’s worth noting that a recent poll conducted by the National Centre for Social Research shows that support for the monarchy is currently at an all-time low, and that while Camilla’s image has improved over the years, many still feel that she does not deserve to be crowned Queen Consort, let alone Queen. There have also been several anti-monarchy groups who have made their displeasure known, with the group Republic introducing the hashtag #NotMyKing.

Francesco Frank Federighi
King Charles IIIFrancesco Frank Federighi

Italian cartoonist Francesco Frank Federighi is behind the above caricature of King Charles, excitedly announcing the arrival of his imminent coronation with cymbals. Note Charles’ exaggerated distinguishing features, such as his swollen sausage fingers (the new monarch’s lymphatic system doesn’t work properly, meaning that fluid gets stuck outside the blood vessels, thereby causing extreme swelling), his prominent ears, and a dentist’s nightmare when it comes to his pearly whites.

Wimar Verdecia Fuentes
Charles edging towards the crownWimar Verdecia Fuentes

Cuban artist Wimar Verdecia Fuentes highlighted in their caricature that King Charles III is essentially the world’s oldest intern, who is finally getting his first job at the tender age of 74. The inclusion of a Harry Potter quote is the perfect touch...

Tjeerd Royaards
Heavy lies the crown...Tjeerd Royaards

A new reign begins, with the drawing of Dutch artist Tjeerd Royaards, the editorial cartoonist and cartoon editor for Cartoon Movement. The shadow of the late Queen Elisabeth II looms over this new era, and how one of the key features that will define (a miserable looking) King Charles III's reign will be how Britain's place in the world changes and if the 14 Commonwealth nations drop him as their head of state.

Bart van Leeuwen
No Australian bill for CharlesBart van Leeuwen

Speaking of the Commonwealth, another Dutch artist, Bart van Leeuwen, made reference to the fact that (a gormless looking) King Charles III will not feature on Australia’s new five dollar note, according to the country’s central bank.

Dave Whamond
Heavy lies the hat...Dave Whamond

Caricaturist Dave Whamond, whose work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated, highlighted in his drawing how Charles is more than aware of how heavy lies the crown / hat. The monarch has attempted to rejuvenate the image of the monarchy, but many of his attempts have failed, including a rather tone-deaf coronation playlist, as well as the so-called “modern" touch of introducing a (widely mocked) pledge of allegiance.

This is Africa
The ills of colonialismThis is Africa

This is Africa referred to the UK’s “disregard for the rights of those affected by colonial looting”, with this caricature alluding to the crown and sceptre - which both feature diamonds taken from colonial-era South Africa. Indeed, St Edward’s Crown is adorned with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, four rubies and 269 pearls. The crown’s exact value is a matter of debate, but experts have speculated that it is worth between £3 billion and £5 billion (up to €5.6 billion). Many African countries and other former colonies have repeatedly asked for the return of stolen minerals and artefacts, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears. That said, Camilla has rejected the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond for her crown. Baby steps and all...

Fabian Sotolongo
Finally...Fabian Sotolongo

Cuban artist Fabian Sotolongo went in strong with this one, a 2022 drawing of Charles waking up and celebrating, thrilled at the prospect of finally acceding to the throne. He is pictured sharing a bed with the Grim Reaper, who was instrumental in his promotion…

So, have these artists gone too far in your opinion? Let us know.

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