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FeaturesPrince & Princess of Wales

The photographer behind the Duchess of Cambridge’s new portraits reveals how they created now famous images

Following the sensation that was caused by the three portraits released by Kensington Palace to celebrate the Duchess of Cambridge’s 40th birthday, the world got a bit more familiar with the name of Paolo Roversi, the photographer behind the images. 

In preparation for the release, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera obtained an interview with Mr Roversi, in which journalist Francesca Pini asked him about his photography session with the Duchess. 

He said that the first meeting happened at Kensington Palace for a traditional 5pm tea. The Duchess was nervous, because of Mr Roversi’s decennial work with supermodels and big celebrities, like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Sting and Madonna. But he reassured her that once the session started it would all be easy. “And so it was”, he said. 

The session took about 4 hours, and Mr Roversi revealed that the Duchess brought some ideas with her:

“To give me an inspiration, Kate showed me some reproductions of pieces from the artists you’re mentioning [Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir David Coyle Burne-Jones], but after all I’ve always been pre-Raphaelite”. 

The photographer also took time to describe the vibe of the shoot: “She’s a nice, welcoming woman, who puts you at ease, and respectful of everyone’s work. She exudes joie de vivre. Open, generous, bright, I think she can bring a lot of hope to England and to the entire world”. 

He also gave a thorough insight into the selection process for the final images, as well as giving clues about some of the pictures that were not published: “In the end, [the pictures] became roughly seventy. The first selection was made by me, she had about ten that were her favourites, then we got to three favourites for me and one for her, the official picture [the profile one] is both my and her favourite. Kate was however less decisive than me in the last choice. The designer Sarah Burton (Kate’s wedding dress was hers) chose the gowns: only one was red, the others neutral. For the official portrait she wore the organza one, almost like a ballerina. At the end, I wanted to take some pictures while she was moving, so with that ample skirt I asked her to dance in front of my lens, a sort of faster waltz mixed with a bit of rock’n’roll”. 

Mr Roversi also highlighted the natural feel of the session: “Everything [was done] under natural lighting. She had very little makeup, no hairdo, simple pearl earrings, a ring… The focal point of Kate’s face are her eyes and her smile. I didn’t want her too madam duchess, too establishment, but purer and as contemporary as possible, but also timeless”. 

It’s safe to say that, although it is not likely for us to ever see them, there are many more pictures from this session that the Duchess could use in the future.