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Sir David Attenborough: New portrait by Jonathan Yeo unveiled

He added that his work has only been possible thanks to the natural history film makers and scientists who have shared their skills.

Yeo, who has also painted Sir Tony Blair and Malala Yousafzai, said it was “a huge honour” to be asked to paint Sir David’s portrait, calling him “a personal inspiration”.

“It has been a thrill as well as a privilege to spend so much time with someone whose wisdom is so deep and broad, and who is also such brilliant and entertaining company,” he said.

For the portrait of Charles, Yeo chose a striking red colour.

Last month, animal-rights protesters attacked the painting in a London art gallery, sticking posters on the glass covering. The painting itself was unharmed.

For Sir David, Yeo said he opted for an “ambiguous natural green background”, as if he “might be emerging from one of the many habitats he has captured on film during his career”.

Sir David was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1983 for his services to science as a pioneer of public engagement.

The Royal Society said the new portrait celebrates the role Sir David continues to play in educating audiences everywhere on climate change and biodiversity.

Its head of library and archives, Keith Moore, said the body was “thrilled” to have the portrait as part of their collections.

“The Royal Society has many pictures of great scientists,” he said, listing the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Dorothy Hodgkin.

“But I’d defy you to find anyone who has touched as many people’s lives in explaining the ideas behind great science, and how they affect our world, as Sir David Attenborough. He’s one of a kind.”

The portrait will be on public display at the Royal Society from 2 July.

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