Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of King James I and Queen Anne of Denmark. As a young man, he greatly impressed the courtiers surrounding his father some of whom, including the Earl of Salisbury, were said to have been apprehensive of his increasing influence and outspokeness. King James I was also rumoured to have been somewhat jealous of the wide popularity his son enjoyed in the country at large and is said to have remarked once 'Will he bury me alive?'.
Henry was not, however, to succeed to the throne, for in the autumn of 1612 he was seized with a severe illness, most likely typhoid fever, and died soon after. His younger brother, Prince Charles, later King Charles I, thereby became heir to the throne.
This portrait is ultimately derived from the portrait miniature by Isaac Oliver, in the Royal Collection, of circa 1610. There was considerable demand for posthumous portraits of Henry, Prince of Wales, and a full-length portrait of him by Sir Anthony van Dyck, in which the countenance is similarly derived from the Isaac Oliver miniature, was commissioned by King Charles I to form part of the royal family portrait gallery in the Cross Gallery at Somerset House (O. Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures on the Royal Collection, London, 1963, I, no. 142, II, pl. 57). This portrait would appear, on stylistic grounds, to date from circa 1635, however, the traditional attribution to Mytens appears untenable.