Duchess Catherine unveils portrait competition finalists

Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a face mask, helps to unpack supplies during a visit to Baby Basics UK & Baby Basics Sheffield, in Sheffield, Britain August 4, 2020. Baby Basics is a volunteer project supporting families in need struggling to provide for their newborns. Chris Jackson/Pool via REUTERS

The Duchess of Cambridge has unveiled the 100 photographs that will feature in her ‘Hold Still’ exhibition.

Duchess Catherine and a number of expert judges went through thousands of submissions to select the finalists for her National Portrait Gallery competition, which urged people to send in pictures that represented life in the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its launch in May, the project invited people of all ages from across Britain to submit a photographic portrait they had taken during the COVID-19 lockdown that started in March.

Focused on three main themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness, some of the photographs will also go on show in towns and cities across Britain later in the year.

The duchess’ grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, was shown a selection of the entries last month and shared a message of congratulations to those who made the final shortlist.

She wrote: “It was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to look through a number of portraits that made the final 100 images for the Hold Still photography project.

“The Duchess of Cambridge and I were inspired to see how the photographs have captured the resilience of the British people at such a challenging time, whether that is through celebrating frontline workers, recognizing community spirit or showing the efforts of individuals supporting those in need,” the queen said in a letter to entrants.

“The Duchess of Cambridge and I send our best wishes and congratulations.”

The chosen images – which focused on three themes, Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness – include hospital staff at work, socially-distanced birthday parties, lockdown haircuts, family visits through the pane of a window, protesters at Black Lives Matters marches and attending a funeral via Zoom.

The Countess of Wessex featured in one of the 31,000 portraits sent in to be considered for the online exhibition. Still, the only famous face to feature in the final 100 is Captain Sir Tom Moore, the former Army officer. He raised tens of millions for charity in a lockdown fundraising initiative to mark his 100th birthday.

The final 100 images will feature in a digital exhibition, and a selection will also be shown in various locations throughout the UK over the coming months.

Kate, a keen photographer herself, was joined on the judging panel by the National Portrait Gallery’s director Nicholas Cullinan, writer and poet Lemn Sissay, photographer Maryam Wahid, and Ruth May, the Chief Nursing Officer for England. The judges assessed the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed rather than on their photographic quality or technical expertise.


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