Duchess Kate Announces ‘Hold Still’ Book to Create a Lasting Record of Front-Line Heroes and Life Under Lockdown
The collection of 100 portraits, an initiative started by Kate Middleton one year ago, presents poignant pandemic moments from across the country. Photo: Chris Jackson/AFP via Getty Images
Exhausted and heartbroken health-care workers. A child ‘glass-kissing’ a family member outside a window of a long-term care home. A centenarian pandemic hero, helping to raise the spirits of the country — and the world.
These are just a few of the portraits captured during Britain’s COVID-19 lockdown as part of a project begun last year by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery. At the time, Britons were invited to submit photos taken during the nation’s first coronavirus lockdown. Of the 31,000 entries submitted, Kate, along with a panel of judges, selected 100 portraits, which were shown in digital and community exhibitions.
And today, with a new portrait of herself posted on Instagram, the duchess announced the May launch of the new book, Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020, which is made up of those portraits.
“When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced — the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers,” Kate writes in the introduction to the book. “But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal.”
She adds that, through the book, she “wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing — to capture individuals’ stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic.”
Hold Still will be available on May 7, marking the one-year anniversary of the project’s launch. Net proceeds will reportedly be split between the National Portrait Gallery and the British mental health charity, Mind. The duchess, along with her husband, Prince William, have long been advocates for mental health awareness.
In September, the pandemic portrait initiative received the endorsement of Kate’s mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II.
“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,” the monarch said in a statement. “The Duchess of Cambridge and I send our best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted a portrait to the project.”
Kate, patron of the Royal Photographic Society, and herself a talented amateur photographer, has launched other high-profile initiatives including a tribute to the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust and Holocaust Memorial Day in the U.K., for which she photographed two survivors at Kensington Palace for an upcoming memorial exhibit. She has also trained her lens on her children — Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2 — for birthday portraits as well as capturing their support of front-line workers and isolated seniors during the pandemic.