The duo were introduced to Colombia-born contemporary artist Dairo Vargas as he painted a piece titled “Someone to Turn To,” which was inspired by the inaugural Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit on Tuesday.
When the artist offered the royal couple the chance to join in, William immediately ushered Kate forward saying, “My wife, she’s the arty one!”
Kate — who studied art history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where the couple met and fell in love — boldly took the brush.
“Where can you hide it?” the 36-year-old royal joked.
Vargas pointed to an area on one of the figure’s shoulders.
After a small stroke, Kate turned to Vargas with a smile and asked, “Fine?”
“It’s almost ruined the picture,” quipped William, 36, before he was encouraged to take his turn.
“No, this is probably how you ruin a picture,” he said as he approached the piece.
When William asked where to add his brushstroke, Kate encouraged, “You are allowed to go anywhere.” He chose to add some paint near the bottom.
“This is a great, great compliment,” Kate told the artist. “It’s great to have some creative reason in which the same [mental health] conversations are going on.”
Vargas, who is based in London, later described the couple as “great, very fun.”
“I had always rather hoped they might have a go but didn’t know until the day that they would,” he said. “I think I am going to leave their contributions untouched!”
He said the concept for his painting was the idea that mental health issues can stem from loneliness, but those who experience issues always have someone to turn to.
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The royal couple, whose Heads Together initiative alongside Prince Harry has helped mainstream mental health discussions, were attending the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit at County Hall in London together.
They started their visit by attending a session on children, young adults and the next generation.
“Have you noticed a shift in attitude in the last few years and months?” William asked one delegate. “Have you notice a general change, can you see this the shift? Are we slowly waking up to mental health?”
Kate asked another, “What’s the best was to access [help]? Is it online, apps?”
William also added, “It’s interesting that social media allows you to draw people out, but how important is human contact?”
Before they left, the couple visited a stand run by United for Global Mental Health and heard about the work of Dixon Chibanda, who started an initiative in Zimbabwe which has taught elderly women the skills to become lay health workers through the use of a “friendship bench.” Grandmothers are considered key figures in Zimbabwean communities and are now being trained to offer “therapy” sessions sitting on benches.
William and Kate sat down on a replica of one of the first friendship bench to discuss the issue with CEO Elisha London.
When she was asked to get up so they could pose for photographs by themselves, William and Kate got the giggles as they pretended to talk among themselves naturally for the photographers.