Having earned millions of pounds from the sale of his paintings in the last two decades, Prince Charles is currently among Britain’s most successful living artists.
An analysis by Clarence House has revealed that the Prince has earned an estimated £2 million from his art. The Prince has been selling copies of his watercolour paintings through the shop at Highgrove since 1997, and all the money earned from these sales goes towards The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation
According to his official website, the Prince of Wales is “an experienced watercolourist” who paints “in the open air, often finishing a picture in one go”. His favourite locations include Sandringham House and The Queen’s estate at Balmoral. As a matter of fact, the Prince’s interest in painting began in Scotland in the 1970s, when he was inspired by his art master, Robert Waddell.
Prince Charles’s work was noticed in 1977, when it was displayed at an exhibition in Windsor Castle, alongside works by other Royal artists including Queen Victoria and the Duke of Edinburgh. As a keen collector and patron of the arts, Prince Charles agreed to exhibitions of his watercolours, stipulating that any profits derived from his art goes to charitable organisations. The Prince only paints with watercolours, and only sells lithographs – never the originals.
For a while, the sale of the royal art was handled by the Belgravia Gallery in central London. At present, the copyright of the Prince’s work belongs to A. G. Carrick Ltd, a company which derives its name from two of Prince Charles’ given names – the A and G stand for Arthur and George – and his title of Earl of Carrick.
“I saw his work as a water colourist in a Sunday newspaper magazine article in 1989,” said Anna Hunter, the owner of the Belgravia Gallery, who approached Prince Charles that very year to persuade him to make his artwork publicly available. “Until then I had no idea he was an artist. I wrote him a letter suggesting that if his works were made into signed lithographs, they could be sold to raise money for his charitable foundation.”
“It was a really lovely project,” Ms. Hunter added. “The originals are mostly at Highgrove. I think these are really charming works of art in the English watercolour tradition and they are a really good reflection of the talent that lies within the Royal family for art.”
While the lithographs currently cost £2,500 apiece, Belgravia Gallery sold the same prints for upto £15,000, and it is estimated that Prince Charles’s work brought in around £4 million at that time, bringing the total sales to nearly £6 million.
But for the first-in-line to the throne, his watercolours are more than a means of earning money. He sees his art as a part of his legacy, saying: “We walk away and shuffle off our mortal coil, but these things live on.”
The Prince of Wales’s latest artistic endeavour, a series of three limited edition lithographs, was released in 2014. One has already sold out, but the other two – entitled Lochnagar and Beinn a’ Bhùird – are still available for purchase on the Highgrove website.