Entertainment & Arts

Prince Charles becomes patron of National Gallery

Prince Charles at the National Gallery Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Charles made his infamous 'monstrous carbuncle' comments in his first public speech

Prince Charles has become the first Royal Patron of London's prestigious National Gallery.

The announcement was made as the prince visited an exhibition of work by French Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix.

The prince and the gallery have had a long association as he was a trustee from 1986 to 1993.

In 1984, Prince Charles famously described a proposed National Gallery extension as a "monstrous carbuncle".

"As a patron of the arts, a passionate advocate for cultural life and a former trustee, the Prince of Wales is uniquely qualified to become the National Gallery's first Royal Patron," said Hannah Rothschild, chair of trustees.

"It is a great honour for the institution and we look forward to working more closely with him in the years to come."

The prince's "carbuncle" speech was made at a gala evening to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) at Hampton Court Palace.

"What is proposed seems to me a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend," the prince said.

Outspoken royal

The remark, though amusing to many, did nonetheless have more serious repercussions.

The extension, designed by architect Peter Ahrends, was scrapped altogether and the final design, built in 1991, was created by the partnership Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown instead.

Some architects became so incensed by what they began to regard as the prince's interference that - even 25 years later - they called for a boycott of a further speech from the prince to Riba in 2009.

As Royal Patron of the National Gallery, the prince will offer his support and encouragement to its various activities.

Patronages generally reflect the interests of the member of the royal family involved and many of those held by the prince stem from his passion for the environment and the arts.

He holds 400 patronages and those to do with the arts include the Actors' Benevolent Fund and the Scottish Ballet.

The National Gallery's exhibition Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art opens to the public on Wednesday.

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