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The Duchess of Cambridge set to publish Hold Still photography book

Screen grab of The Duchess of Cambridge not to be used after December 31st 2021
Photo by Matt Porteous

The Duchess of Cambridge has teamed up with the National Portrait Gallery once again for the publication of a commemorative ‘Hold Still’ book a year on from the launch of the successful, community-based portrait exhibition.

Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020 will be on sale in the United Kingdom beginning 7 May, a year after Kate first announced the photography project. It will contain the final 100 images chosen.

The Duchess penned the introduction: “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. 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.

“Through Hold Still, I 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.”

The book will contain the stories behind the 100 final images, as well as an overview of the ‘Hold Still’ exhibition process, which saw rotating billboards and outdoor posters in 80 towns all over the UK in October 2020.

All net proceeds from the book will be split between two organisations backed by Kate: Mind, a mental health charity, and the National Portrait Gallery, which will “help to support arts and mental health projects across the UK, including Mind’s work in local communities and the National Portrait Gallery’s education and community projects,” according to Kensington Palace.

When the Duchess and the National Portrait Gallery announced ‘Hold Still’ last year, over 31,000 images were submitted by people across the UK.

“The public response to Hold Still, which was spearheaded by our Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, has been phenomenal. The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown,” said National Portrait Gallery Director Dr Nicholas Cullinan in a statement.

“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.”

Paul Farmer, the Chief Executive of Mind, said, “The coronavirus pandemic is a mental health emergency as well as a physical one. The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, and any recession that lies ahead means there has never been a more crucial time to prioritise our mental health.

“This inspiring collection of portraits illustrates the impact of the pandemic in all its complexity, but also how creativity, art and human connection can help us find meaning in unprecedented challenges. Thank you to everyone who submitted a portrait to tell such a moving and deeply human story of the pandemic. And to the National Portrait Gallery and The Duchess of Cambridge for choosing Mind as a joint beneficiary of proceeds from the sales of this book.”

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.