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

By Simon Perry
September 13, 2020 07:00 PM
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Kate Middleton
Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty

Kissing through windows, a famous hero of the pandemic, socially-distanced birthday parties, broken hearts and lockdown haircuts are among the powerful images selected for Kate Middleton's pandemic photo exhibit, Hold Still.

Chosen by the Duchess of Cambridge and a number of expert judges, the 100 portraits that reflect life in the U.K. during the crisis have been revealed.

Kate's Hold Still project, which she created alongside the National Portrait Gallery, invited people across the country to submit a photographic portrait focused on three core themes — Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness — that were taken during lockdown.

The project aimed to document the spirit, mood, hopes, and fears of the nation as people coped with the coronavirus crisis. The final 100 will be shown in an online exhibit on Monday, September 14 and a selection of images will also be shown in towns and cities around the U.K. in the coming months.

Queen Elizabeth, who was shown a number of portraits by Kate last month, also shared a congratulatory message to mark the launch of the digital exhibition.

“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  wrote. “The Duchess 0f Cambridge and I send our best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted a portrait to the project.”

Care worker by Karwai Tang
Karwai Tang
Stockport Spider Men bringing smiles to children in lockdown by Jason Baird
Jason Baird
Bedtime Stories with Grandma by Laura Macey
Laura Macey

Last month, it was revealed that more than 31,000 people sent in photo submissions. Princess Kate, 38, said that they were going to have an impossible task editing them down.

"I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has entered and taken part. And a big thank you to my fellow judges. I hugely appreciate the time and dedication that they have shown towards the project,” she said.

Sometimes haunting, often moving, the final images show people as they cried, exercised, had long-distance catch-ups and watched online funerals. There are exhausted healthcare staff in protective gear and images of the ubiquitous rainbow art that paid tribute to frontline workers.

Shielding Mila by Lynda Sneddon
Lynda Sneddon
Hero by Glenn Dene
Glenn Dene
Akuac by Anastasia Orlando
Anastasia Orlando

When mother of three Princess Kate shared some of her own personal images earlier this year, it showed that in her own family they have been making rainbow art. Prince Louis was memorably captured after a messy multicolored finger painting session.

And, although Kate’s royal relative — Queen Elizabeth's daughter-in-law Sophie Wessex — made an entrance among the 31, 000 portraits sent in for consideration, the only famous subject is of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised tens of millions for the NHS Charities and was knighted by the Queen.

Cpt Tom Moore vowels to carry on his walk while people donate to the NHS
Terry Harris
This is what broken looks like by Ceri Hayles
Ceri Hayles
Funeral heartbreak by Bonnie Sapsford and Fiona Grant-MacDonald
Bonnie Sapsford and Fiona Grant-MacDonald

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The final 100 images were selected by a panel of judges, including the Duchess of Cambridge; Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery; Lemn Sissay MBE, writer and poet; Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England and Maryam Wahid, photographer.