Kate Middleton Shares Sneak Peek of Her Pandemic Photo Project After Receiving Over 31,000 Portraits

The Duchess of Cambridge helped curate the unique "Hold Still" project to capture the lives and emotions of people across the U.K. amid the coronavirus pandemic

kate middleton
Kate Middleton on Aug. 4. Photo: Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty

Kate Middleton is sharing her gratitude to those who sent in pictures of life amid the coronavirus pandemic for her special photo project, Hold Still. The Duchess of Cambridge also revealed when she'll display the 100 images that she hand-picked for an online exhibit.

"There were 31,598 portraits submitted to #HoldStill2020 as you shared your stories and experiences of lockdown. Ahead of showcasing the final 100 images in a digital exhibition from Monday 14th September, The Duchess of Cambridge has selected some images as a sneak peek of those that have made the final selection," Kensington Palace shared on Saturday.

"The photography project was focused on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness. A selection of the final 100 images will be shown in towns and cities across the UK later in the year," the palace said.

In May, Kate, 38, asked for Britons to submit their best photos of their families, work colleagues or communities as they endured the “new normal” of life amid lockdown and coped with the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hold Still project, which Kate spearheaded alongside the National Portrait Gallery, kicked off in May as she hoped to capture a pictorial history of the U.K. as people grappled with the unprecedented health crisis. She set out to find some of the most compelling images reflecting this period in history and people were asked to submit their own portraits inspired by three themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness.

The chosen images will now be featured in what Kate's office calls "a gallery without walls – a one of a kind digital exhibition open to all."

Each image was assessed by a team of judges, including Kate, on the emotion and experience it conveys rather than its photographic quality or technical expertise. The photos were taken with phones or cameras.

prince william, kate middleton
Kate Middleton during an outing this summer. JONATHAN BUCKMASTER/POOL/AFP/Getty

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When she launched the initiative in May, Kate said, “We’ve all been struck by some of the incredible images we’ve seen which have given us an insight into the experiences and stories of people across the country. Some desperately sad images showing the human tragedy of this pandemic and other uplifting pictures showing people coming together to support those more vulnerable.”

The mother of three shared some of her own personal images she took amid life in lockdown when she took photos of Prince Louis to mark his second birthday in April. He was memorably captured after a messy rainbow painting session. Rainbows were an ongoing theme of the first weeks of lockdown as people used them to pay tribute to health care staff and frontline workers.

Prince Louis; Kate Middleton
Prince Louis; Kate Middleton. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

And the royal managed to encourage at least one of her relatives to take part. Queen Elizabeth's daughter-in-law Sophie Wessex was an early high-profile contributor. She released an image she submitted — and a shot of her taking it while she helped volunteers at a mosque.

Called "Packed with Love," it depicts a volunteer, Ali, whose "smile captures the enthusiasm for helping others that is so evident amongst the volunteers at the Mosque,” Sophie wrote in her accompanying caption.

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