Royal Corner

Kate's 'Hold Still' Book Becomes an Instant Bestseller

The Duchess of Cambridge celebrated the release of her bestselling photography book 'Hold Still' by leaving hidden copies across the UK.


MAY 7th, 2021

© PA Images

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The Duchess of Cambridge’s book celebrating the work from her ‘Hold Still’ gallery has become an instant bestseller less than 24 hours after its release. The stunning book stormed to the top of the Amazon best seller list in numerous categories, including Cultural studies, Photography Collections & Exhibitions, Portraits in Art, Architecture & Photography, and the overall Best Seller list.

The project, compiling 100 portraits from the UK’s time in lockdown, was spearheaded by the Duchess in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, and the proceeds from the book’s sales will be split between the Gallery and Mind, the Mental Health Charity.

The Duchess of Cambridge partnered with Book Fairies to hide 150 books across the UK. - © The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/Instagram


In celebration of the book’s success Kate partnered with the organisation Book Fairies - a company which promotes members of the public to pass on their used books so they can be enjoyed by other passionate readers. One hundred and fifty copies of ‘Hold Still’ were hidden across the UK by Kate, members of the ‘Hold Still’ judging panel, and some of the photographers who are featured in the book.

The Duchess placed her copy in front of Queen Victoria’s statue outside of Kensington Palace for a lucky member of the public to later find. Inside she had written a personal note, which had been placed inside all one hundred and fifty copies, writing: ‘The Hold Still book documents a photography project which captured a portrait of our nation as we lived through the first COVID-19 lockdown last year. The images tell the stories of the challenges we all faced, but also how we came together in the most extraordinary of times.’

'Hold Still' is currently No.1 on Amazon's Bestseller list. - © Amazon


The Duchess continued: ‘I am proud to have worked closely with the National Portrait Gallery on this project, and thrilled that the Book Fairies across the country are returning the images to the communities at the heart of Hold Still.

‘Once you have finished looking through the book, please leave it somewhere else in your community for the next person to enjoy.

‘With all my best wishes, Catherine.’



The Hold Still gallery has been a passion project for the Duchess of Cambridge, which was initially only planned to be an online gallery for the public to “visit”. However, due to unprecedented demand through emails and social media posts, the National Portrait Gallery changed plans and announced that they would be releasing a book featuring all one hundred portraits.

“It was never planned to be a book, but due to the level of interest in the photographs and the emotive nature of the portraits, we eventually decided to change course and create the book,” explained Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, in an interview when announcing the book. “The public response to Hold Still overall, which was spearheaded by our Patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been phenomenal.

“The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown. We are honoured to have been able to share a selection of these photographs with the nation, first through the online and community exhibition and now through this new publication.

“The proceeds raised from the book will help us to continue to care for and share our national Collection and to provide free access, inspiration and learning, through the work we do at the Gallery and our UK wide community and education projects.

“Hold Still is an important record of this extraordinary moment in our history – expressed through the faces of the nation – and we hope will remain so for generations to come.”

The Duchess speaks to NHS staff about how their coping as we begin to leave lockdown. - © Getty Images


Kate takes a photo beside the iconic portrait taken by Johannah Churchill entitled "Melanie, March 2020". - © Getty Images


The Duchess of Cambridge looks at other portraits for sale in the hospital which make money for NHS charities across the UK. - © Getty Images

The Duchess marked the release of the book by also visiting The Royal London Hospital where she spoke with NHS staff about how they are coping as the UK slowly leaves lockdown. She also, alongside the National Portrait Gallery, gifted what has since become the iconic portrait of a nurse called Melanie taken by Johannah Churchill. Entitled "Melanie, March 2020", the striking image is of Johannah’s fellow colleague wearing personal protective equipment and helping to prepare a Covid-19 clinic for patients. The Duchess was overheard saying: “It's become really iconic, hasn't it?

"Some of them had really powerful stories behind them and this one really stood out. I spoke to Johannah and she was so, 'this is not about me, it’s about the people who I represent'. She was so humble about it." The portrait will be placed on display in the main corridor of the hospital.



Afterwards, Kate visited the National Portrait Gallery itself to meet with some of the photographers featured in the exhibition and book. In the meeting the Duchess heard all about how the portraits had been taken and what inspired the photographers to capture them.

The day of visits comes after the Duchess uploaded the first video to the YouTube channel she shares alongside her husband Prince William. The six-minute video featured a phone conversation between Kate and five-year-old Mila Sneddon and her mum Lynda.

Mila features in the Hold Still book and shared a sweet conversation with the future queen, adorably asking her “Do you have a costume?”

Kate responded: “I’m not wearing a Princess costume right now, I’m afraid Mila.” Though continued by asking what Mila’s favourite colour was, which turned out to be pink. “Okay, well I have to make sure I go and try and find myself a pink dress.

“Hopefully, when, one day, Mila we’ll get to meet and then I’ll remember to wear my pink dress for you.”

The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to some of the photographers featured in the book. - © Getty Images


Kate looks at the portrait of Sir Captain Tom Moore. - © PA Images


The Duchess looked stunning in a Eponine DeMellier coat. - © Getty Images


Mila, who is currently receiving treatment for leukaemia and has been shielding throughout the pandemic, was captured waving through the window to her father who visited her everyday. Her mum Lynda told the Duchess: “We’ve had our ups and downs, but Scott and I are just so proud of Mila and our eldest Jodi through this time and the challenges they’ve had to overcome.”

The Duchess launched and spearheaded the Hold Still initiative last year in response to the pandemic in a bid to capture the portrait of the nation in these unprecedented times.

‘Hold Still’ is currently on sale on Amazon for £17.55. You can order your own copy here.

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