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King Charles’ first official portrait targeted by animal rights activists | UK News

Animal rights activists have targeted a portrait of the King, appearing to paste over his face with the animated character Wallace.

A speech bubble, reading, “No cheese Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms,” was also put onto the painting at the Philip Mould gallery in central London.

It was the first official portrait of The King, by artist Jonathan Yeo, since the coronation, which was unveiled at Buckingham Palace last month.

Pic: Animal Rising/Jonathan Yeo 2024/Reuters
Pic: Animal Rising/Jonathan Yeo 2024/Reuters

Animal Rising said two of its supporters were responsible for the stunt, saying the artwork was targeted because of the King’s love of the British stop-motion Wallace and Gromit comedy franchise created by Nick Park and his status as Royal Patron of the RSPCA.

In a post on the group’s website Daniel Juniper, one of those involved, said they wanted to draw his attention to alleged cruelty reported on RSPCA-assured farms.

Pic:Animal Rising
Pic: Animal Rising

“Even though we hope this is amusing to his Majesty, we also call on him to seriously reconsider if he wants to be associated with the awful suffering across farms being endorsed by the RSPCA,” he said.

“Charles has made it clear he is sensitive to the suffering of animals in UK farms; now is the perfect time for him to step up and call on the RSPCA to drop the assured scheme and tell the truth about animal farming.”

A video posted on social media site X shows two protesters approaching the painting before attaching the posters using paint rollers, then walking away.

The portrait shows the King wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, which he was made regimental colonel of in 1975, and was originally commissioned in 2020 to mark his 50 years as a member of The Draper’s Company in 2022.

The King sat for Mr Yeo on four occasions between June 2021 and November 2023 at both Highgrove in Gloucestershire and Clarence House in London.

The renowned portrait artist’s past subjects include Idris Elba, Cara Delevingne, Sir David Attenborough, Nicole Kidman, Malala Yousafzai, and former prime ministers Sirs David Cameron and Tony Blair.

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Grand National ‘a disgrace’: Animal rights groups call for jump racing ban after three horses die at Aintree | UK News

Animal rights campaigners are calling for jump racing to be banned after three horses died at Aintree – with one suffering a broken neck during the Grand National.

Protesters had tried and failed to stop yesterday’s race from going ahead, and a total of 118 people were arrested.

Animal Aid says action must be taken to prevent the “brutal horrors” at Aintree Racecourse from happening again.

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Grand National protester arrested

Dene Stansall, the campaign group’s horse racing consultant, said: “Innocent racehorses’ lives taken from them in the name of entertainment and gambling.

“Aintree, the worst of all racecourses, is a disgrace and the Jockey Club and British racing should hang their hands in utter shame at what we have seen over the past three days.”

The chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority – Julie Harrington – said the sporting body works “tirelessly” to improve safety records and reduce risk.

Offering her condolences to those linked to the horses who died this week, she added: “Every incident is reviewed by the BHA alongside the racecourse and other bodies.

“As a sport, we have for years shown great determination and commitment to improve welfare standards by taking measured scientific, evidence-based, regulatory and education-based steps.”

Read more:
Opinion – ‘I loved the Grand National until I saw what I saw’

But given 62 horses have died at the Aintree Festival since 2000 – with 16 killed in the Grand National – critics argue that the safety measures in place don’t go far enough.

The League Against Cruel Sports also wants whips to be banned because they push horses beyond what they can safely do, and says this weekend’s events show change is needed.

Spokesperson Emma Judd said: “One death is too many. Animal welfare needs to be put before gambling profits and entertainment, and steps need to be taken to end this carnage which is occurring year after year.”

She went on to call for an independent regulator that prioritises horse welfare.

Other animal welfare groups – including Peta UK – described the Grand National race as “one of the longest and most hazardous in the world”.

It is now urging the public to put pressure on the event’s sponsors so they withdraw financial support.

In a statement, Peta UK said notorious fences such as the Chair, Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn cause “horrific and often fatal injuries” almost every year.

“Every time horses are forced to jump over these excessively high obstacles, it puts tremendous pressure on their slender front legs and they risk broken legs, necks and backs,” it added.

“Even those who make it off the track alive are likely to suffer. Thousands of horses – including ‘spent’ thoroughbreds and those who don’t ‘make the grade’ – are discarded like used betting slips every year.”

Envoye Special died on Thursday, followed by Dark Raven in an early race on Saturday. Hill Sixteen was put down after suffering serious injuries during the flagship event.

Dickon White, who runs Aintree Racecourse, said: “Hill Sixteen was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during the Grand National, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.”

Animal Rising – which spearheaded Saturday’s protest – has suggested that its work is only beginning, and that it intends to start an “unignorable national conversation”.

About 15 of its demonstrators managed to delay the start of the race by 12 minutes, while others caused extensive traffic by gluing themselves to the M57 motorway.

Animal Rising activists attempting to invade the race course ahead of the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase

Some racegoers have said they disagree with the group’s tactics.

Alice Pocock, from Berkshire, said: “Every horse here is born and bred to race. I think the protesters are putting themselves at harm and they don’t understand the racing industry.”

Grand National: Animal Rising protesters say they’ll try to stop race from going ahead | UK News

An animal rights group says it will attempt to stop the Grand National from going ahead this afternoon.

Animal Rising activists are planning to scale fences and storm the track – and it’s claimed up to 300 protesters will attend.

Others will block traffic by performing a slow march along the main access route outside Aintree Racecourse.

Spokesperson Nathan McGovern said: “Animal Rising intends to make sure the Grand National doesn’t even begin.

“We know that if the race begins, then horses will likely die as Eclair Surf and Discorama did last year. People will attempt to put their bodies between horses and harm by calling the entire race off.”

According to Mr McGovern, a horse dies every two to three days in UK racing – “and we want to see an end to that”.

He went on to stress that activists plan to act before the race starts, and they would not enter the track if horses and jockeys are riding.

Merseyside Police said they have a “robust policing plan in place” and are working with Aintree’s owners The Jockey Club in preparation for any incidents.

One horse has already died at the Grand National Festival – Envoye Special – after it fell in the Foxhunters’ Chase just after 4pm on Thursday.

It is the 60th horse to have died at Aintree in the past 23 years.

Animal Rising was formerly known as Animal Rebellion, but changed its name earlier this week in order to move away from the umbrella of Extinction Rebellion.

It plans to target the Grand National were made public when an undercover reporter attended a meeting earlier this month.

According to The Mail on Sunday, activists are intending to use ladders and bolt cutters to get through the perimeter fencing at Aintree.

Mr McGovern added: “It’s a spotlight that we really need to be using to push a national conversation about our broken relationship, not only with horses but with all the animals that we use, whether that’s for food, fun, entertainment and dog and horse racing.

“This is very much about a bigger picture of recognising that, in a nation of animal lovers, we’re not really living up to those values with our actions.”

A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: “We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but public order or criminal offences will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”

Meanwhile, an Aintree Racecourse representative urged Animal Rising to “reflect on whether their proposed actions are legitimate and responsible”.

They added: “Their actions could endanger the horses they purport to protect, as well as jockeys, officials and themselves.”

Kaylea Titford: Morbidly obese teen died in conditions ‘unfit for any animal’ after parents ‘seriously neglected her’, court hears | UK News

A vulnerable teenage girl died after becoming morbidly obese and forced to live in conditions “unfit for any animal”, a court has been told.

Kaylea Titford, 16, was living in “squalor and degradation” when she was found dead by paramedics at her home in Powys, Wales, in October 2020, jurors heard.

Prosecutors say her parents “seriously neglected” their daughter, who weighed almost 23st and had a body mass index of 70.

They ordered takeaways five times a week, including Chinese and Indian food and kebabs.

Her mother, Sarah Lloyd-Jones, 39, has admitted manslaughter by gross negligence.

But her father, Alun Titford, 45, denies the same offence and is standing trial at Mold Crown Court.

Kaylea used a wheelchair from a young age due to health conditions including spina bifida, a spinal defect, and hydrocephalus, which causes a build up of fluid on the brain.

She was described as “funny and chatty” by staff at her secondary school in Newtown.

But she was confined to her home after the COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020.

Vulnerable girl depended entirely on others for her care

Six months later on 10 October, Lloyd-Jones called the emergency services who arrived to find Kaylea lying on filthy “puppy pads”.

She had dirty and matted hair and ulcerated skin and had not been properly washed for weeks.

Milk bottles filled with urine were found where she slept, with police describing an “unbearable” rotting smell and maggots and flies on her body.

Ms Rees said: “Kaylea Titford was living in conditions unfit for any animal, let alone a vulnerable 16-year-old girl who depended entirely on others for her care.

“The prosecution say that the scene – as witnessed by those that attended – together with the state in which Kaylea’s body was found demonstrate clearly that this vulnerable girl, who relied heavily on others for her welfare needs, was seriously neglected by not just one but both of her parents, who owed her a duty of care.”

Pathologist Dr Deryk James ruled the teenager died due to “inflammation and infection” arising from being obese and immobile, jurors heard.

Simple tasks such as changing Kaylea’s socks regularly appeared to have been ignored, according to forensic podiatry specialist, David Blake.

Alun Titford arrives at Mold Crown Court in Flintshire
Alun Titford said he was ‘not a very good dad’ when questioned by police, jurors heard

During his police interview, Titford said he was “not a very good dad” and claimed Lloyd-Jones cared for their daughter and did the housework.

He said Kaylea had outgrown her wheelchair – but added he had not seen her out of bed since the lockdown.

When questioned about when he last asked Kaylea how she was, Titford replied: “I didn’t ask her. Like I say, I’m not the best of people.

“Nobody ever thinks their child is going to end up like that.”

Titford also denies an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.

The trial, expected to last four weeks, continues on Thursday.