His Majesty the King’s first official photograph today shows him tending to his red box, beginning as he intends to continue as a working monarch in the new office at Buckingham Palace.
The king, whose late mother is said to look after her red box every day except Christmas Day, was pictured carrying out his own constitutional duties, in an image taken last week.
Sitting at his desk in the 18th century room of Buckingham Palace, with a photo of his parents behind him, he was already at work signing papers “Charles R”, short for Charles Rex, his official signature as than king.
On the desk in front of him is a worn copy of a Shakespeare Folio, from which he is said to have taken the much-quoted line from his first televised speech: “Let flights of angels sing thee to rest.”
The photograph was taken in a session lasting just a few minutes, and it appears to have been one of the last images after the king had finished posing and immediately got back to work.
He is seated at a 19th century French mahogany writing desk, in front of the painting Jacob and Leah with their Sons, Francesco Zuccarelli 1743, acquired for the Royal Collection by George III.
The red box sits on a gilded wooden stool, made by Henry Williams in the mid-18th century.
In the background is a distinctive black and white photograph of the late Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, given to King George VI for Christmas in 1951 by the young couple.
New red boxes are being made for the king, with six boxes to bear his royal monogram.
They will contain documents from UK government ministers and realms, as well as Commonwealth officials, sent from his private secretary’s office to the king wherever he is in the world in a locked red dispatch box.
Other papers, including one tied with a ribbon, are seen next to him.
The photograph of the king was released by Buckingham Palace two weeks and two days after Queen Elizabeth II died.
It is part of a long tradition of portraits of new monarchs.
In 1952, just days after her accession to the throne, the Queen wore a tiara for her official portraits of Dorothy Wilding, which served as the basis for the monarch’s image on millions of postage stamps from 1953 to 1971.