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Prince Charles named patron of National Gallery

29th February 2016

Prince Charles has become the first Royal Patron of London's National Gallery, with the announcement coming on the back of the prince's visit to an exhibition of work by French Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix.

It is the latest episode in what has been a long association between the prince and the gallery, of which he was a trustee between 1986 and 1993.

Hannah Rothschild, chair of trustees, said: "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.

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

As Royal Patron, the prince will now be able to offer his support and encouragement for the National Gallery's various activities.

Patronages generally reflect the interests of the royal family member involved and this is the latest to have rewarded the prince's passion for the environment and the arts.

Prince Charles currently holds 400 patronages including the Actors' Benevolent Fund and the Scottish Ballet.

Not always plain sailing

The relationship between both parties has not always been so strong, however, with the prince famously using a 1984 speech to describe a proposed National Gallery extension in a hugely negative light.

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

That speech was made at a gala evening to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) at Hampton Court Palace.

While the remark is still a cause of great amusement for the gallery and its loyal following, it did still have serious repercussions. The extension, which was designed by architect Peter Ahrends, was eventually scrapped.

Although a revamped and altered extension still went ahead, under the stewardship of a partnership between Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, a number of architects became hugely upset by what they regarded as the prince's interference.

The extension was completed in 1991, but when the prince was set to give another speech to Riba in 2009, some 25 years later, many architects call for a boycott.

That sentiment is unlikely to be anywhere near as strong, with the National Gallery's exhibition Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art now open to the public.

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