Royal Corner

Kate Captures the Nation

The Duchess of Cambridge launches new national project to honour the UK's hopes and feelings through the coronavirus pandemic.

MAY 7th, 2020

A National portrait - the Duchess of Cambridge launches Hold Still - © ITV


s a youngster, the Duchess of Cambridge avidly watched her father Michael Middleton take photographs with his camera. Whether it be landscapes of the Jordanian sunsets, or the personal family portraits between Catherine and her siblings – the Duchess was surrounded by the sentiments of capturing the moments which meant the most to her family. Her father’s love for photography was the igniting factor for Kate’s fascination with the subject – and friends close to the Duchess state that Michael Middleton “taught her everything she knows”. So, it was only natural therefore, that Catherine would launch a photography project to help the country through these difficult times.

Hold Still is a partnering initiative between the Duchess and her patronage – The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) – to capture the Nation’s response, feelings and hopes whilst we continue to navigate the ensuing pandemic. With three themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness, anyone in the UK – of any age – can share their personal images capturing how they responded to the pandemic. From what will likely be a hefty influx of entries, 100 shortlisted portraits will then be featured in a ‘virtual exhibition’ on the NPG’s website.

The Duchess of Cambridge appeared on ITV's This Morning to discuss the Hold Still project - © ITV/This Morning

The Duchess spearheaded the idea in the hope that it will create a national portrait which will capture the UK’s spirit, mood, hopes, fears and feelings as we adjust to a new normal. She also hopes that Hold Still will provide a project for schools to join in with, to help children express their own feelings at this time. This is said to ensure that Catherine’s Early Years projects can link up with the NPG, making all her patronages feel included.

If Hold Still says anything, it is that the Duchess of Cambridge strongly believes that photography is a vital element of telling not only the Nation’s story, but our own. Watching her father and slowly nurturing her own blossoming talent as a photographer, it is highly doubtful that the Duchess saw herself marrying a future King and becoming a Queen-in-waiting. Yet, what is admirable about Catherine is her constant marrying between the accompanying privilege and personal. We saw it earlier this year when she released a selection of deeply moving portraits in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust. With her worldwide fame, the stories of those captured were broadcast to a global audience, potently highlighting the horror – and hope – the survivors experienced, and it is easy to see the same happening again with the Hold Still initiative.

Launching the project on ITV’s This Morning, the Duchess told hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield that she strongly believes photography is a perfect way of capturing those moments which mean the most to us. Through Hold Still that is the main goal – telling the stories and experiences within our communities. And in recent days, Kate has demonstrated her loyalty to this mantra after releasing images of her daughter Princess Charlotte delivering food packages to local residents near Sandringham.

Catherine also touched upon those images of her youngest son – Louis, joking that she wished she could have released images of herself whilst trying to capture the little Prince: “I was pretty much – I looked like Louis at the end of it.” She said.

Prince Louis was captured by his mother in honour of his 2nd birthday - © Kensington Royal/The Duchess of Cambridge

In the aftermath of the interview fans fawned over the Duchess of Cambridge, praising her warmth, gentle persona and genuine passion for photography. Hold Still allows Catherine to share that passion with the entire country – though she stresses that there are no judges!

Hold Still will actively bring a striking collective portrait of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. It will also continue to highlight the Duchess’ continuing support for the NHS and those affected by the disease, who alongside her husband Prince William, have actively made it their focus to keep the Nation’s spirits up. The couple recently contacted a Royal British Legion Care home to touch base with those areas most affected by the crisis. With their unrelenting support for the frontline workers, Catherine is now taking that priceless assistance to the country, ensuring that the British public have a voice too. And who knows, maybe some future Prince or Princess maybe inspired in the same way the Duchess of Cambridge was by her own father.

To take part in the project, visit the National Portrait Gallery’s website. The closing date for submissions is the 18 June 2020.

You can also share your images on social media with #HoldStill2020.

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