Pictured: First official photo of the King shows him attending to his red box

A newly released photo shows King Charles III carrying out official government duties from his red box - Victoria Jones/PA
A newly released photo shows King Charles III carrying out official government duties from his red box - Victoria Jones/PA

The first official photograph of His Majesty the King today shows him attending to his red box, starting as he means to go on as a working monarch in the new office at Buckingham Palace.

The King, whose late mother reputedly attended to her red box every day except Christmas Day, has been photographed carrying out his own constitutional duties, in an image taken last week.

Sitting at his desk in the 18th Century Room in Buckingham Palace, with a photograph of his parents behind him, he was already at work signing papers “Charles R”, short for Charles Rex, his official signature as King.

On the desk in front of him is a well-worn copy of a Shakespeare Folio, from which he is understood to have taken the much-quoted line from his first televised speech: “May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.”

The photograph was taken in a shoot lasting just a few minutes, and it is understood to have been one of the final frames after the King had finished posing and got immediately back to work.

He is sitting 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 is placed on a giltwood 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 Duke of Edinburgh, given to King George VI for Christmas in 1951 by the young couple.

New red boxes of his own are currently being made for the King, with six boxes due to carry his royal cypher.

They will contain papers from government ministers in the UK and the realms, as well as Commonwealth representatives, sent from his private secretary’s office to the King wherever he is around the world in a locked, red despatch box.

Further papers, one tied with a ribbon, are seen next to him.

The photograph of the King was issued by Buckingham Palace two weeks and two days after Queen Elizabeth II died.

It follows a long tradition of portraits of new monarchs.

In 1952, just days after she acceded to the throne, the Queen wore a diadem for her official portraits by Dorothy Wilding, which formed the basis for the monarch's image on millions of postage stamps from 1953 to 1971.