Visual arts

Rush for new royal figureheads begins among UK arts organizations | King Charles III

JThe British Open Brass Band Championship, one of more than 50 arts organizations that boasted the Queen as a patron, had further reason to mourn her death as musicians from Brighouse & Rastrick took up the challenge in Birmingham on Last weekend. Like many major creative institutions, galleries and museums, the marching band competition now hopes to find a new royal patron.

Elegant images of Diana at the English National Ballet, or Catherine, the new Princess of Wales, at the National Portrait Gallery, where she became godmother in 2012, show the value of a royal connection very clearly. Who you get is a matter of competition. The next few weeks will see a quiet race to acquire an immediate royal, rather than a less familiar face.

“Institutions are very keen to find the right patron,” said Tim Marlow, chief executive of the Design Museum and former artistic director of the Royal Academy of Arts. “This matters a lot and creates many more funding opportunities, both domestically and overseas.”

The Queen meets the Royal Shakespeare Company cast of Peter Pan at the Barbican on December 15, 1982. Photography: David Levenson/Getty Images

Although the Queen granted several patronages when she reached her 90th birthday, many have yet to be reassigned. Other musical groups waiting to be heard include the Royal Philharmonic Society, Help Musicians UK, the Royal Schools of Music, the Royal College of Organists, the Royal Northern College of Music and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).

Last Sunday, LSO conductor Sir Simon Rattle conducted a rendition of God Save the King while his Barbican audience stood in silence. With a program of British music, Rattle offered the opening concert of the season as a tribute.

The late Her Majesty’s sponsorship of the orchestra began with her accession to the throne, and a spokesperson said having the Sovereign “as a highly esteemed badge of honor and a great privilege” had been ” immensely useful in our relations with our foreign promoters and audiences.”

‘After the period of mourning,’ he added, ‘all of HMQ’s charities, and indeed all of the King’s charities when he was Prince of Wales, will work with the Palace to determine how the royal patronage is put forward.”

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Charles recently became a patron, is probably planning to keep it. His mother was also patroness of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet, dating back to the granting of a royal charter in 1956, and it will be difficult for the king to fulfill all of these roles.

Although a 2020 study found no evidence that charities benefit financially from a royal patron, congratulations are difficult to gauge. “It’s a moment of competition,” said a former museum director. “Whatever the institutions say, they will do their best, unless a royal name goes against their philosophy in some way. I shouldn’t think that Tate, for example , be so disturbed.

President Charles de Gaulle stands next to the Queen on a balcony decorated with carnations at the Royal Opera House, alongside the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret and others
President Charles de Gaulle stands next to the Queen during a gala at the Royal Opera House decorated with carnations. Photography: PA Images/Alamy

Four years ago, the Tate announced Princess Eugenie as patron of its youth organization. Hooking your cart up to a rising royal star isn’t a bad move. Prince William, now Prince of Wales, has been chairman of Bafta since 2010, and although Sophie, Countess of Wessex is not the most recognized royal, she was close to the Queen and is set to inherit several roles. She may also be in line to become Duchess of Edinburgh, if her husband Edward receives the title from his late father, awarded to Charles on the death of Prince Philip.

The National Theater already has the Duchess of Cornwall, now Queen Consort, as patron, after a brief period in which Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, took on the role.

But Rada, the drama school, is now without a dedicated royal. “We were honored to have the Queen as Patron,” he said, “and we await news from the Palace in due course.”

The late Queen had become patron of the Royal Shakespeare Company when it was established in 1961 and last visited Stratford-upon-Avon in 2011 to reopen the refurbished building. This weekend, a spokesperson for the theatre, which plans the funeral on Monday, said: ‘The king is our president but there is no speculation about the future.

In the visual arts, the late Queen’s closest connection was with the Royal Academy, the site of her first official engagement after her coronation. She also opened the Burlington Gardens building 65 years later. Former secretary Charles Saumarez Smith told the art diary that being a royal institution “gave a sense of long-term stability independent of government control”. However, it can also give the mistaken impression that an organization is fully funded by the state.

Her late Majesty was also Patron of the Art Fund from 1953, when the galleries reorganized after the Second World War, and fulfilled the same role in smaller artistic charities including the Royal Watercolor Society.

A keen amateur painter, it was Charles who became the National Gallery’s first Royal Patron in 2016, leading many to recall his infamous 1984 review that its extension was “a monstrous carbuncle”. In fact, the future king already had a long association, serving as a trustee between 1986 and 1993. His wider views on architecture won him few friends in the profession.

The King is also currently patron of the Actors’ Benevolent Fund, the British Film Institute (BFI) and Scottish Ballet, reflecting his artistic interests. The BFI secured Charles as a patron when it created its royal charter in 1983, and the institute believes nothing will change immediately.