Duchess Kate’s coronavirus photo exhibit unveiled; Queen Elizabeth congratulates participants

Queen Elizabeth II is congratulating all who participated in Duchess Kate’s coronavirus-focused photography project. 

Kensington Palace announced Sunday that “Hold Still” is now available to view as a digital exhibition featuring 100 portraits selected from more than 31,000 entries by Kate and a panel of judges.

In honor of the launch, “Her Majesty The Queen has written a message sending her best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted an image to the project,” the palace noted. 

Duchess Kate “shared a selection of the portraits featured in the exhibition with Her Majesty last month,” the palace added. She was one of five judges, along with National Portrait Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan, writer and poet Lemn Sissay, England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May and photographer Maryam Wahid.

The duchess, an avid amateur photographer and royal patron of Britain’s National Portrait gallery, welcomed Brits to submit their phone or camera shots for the project back in May, an ambitious attempt to capture a portrait of the citizens of the United Kingdom as they coped with lockdown during the coronavirus crisis.

“The images present a unique record of our shared and individual experiences during this extraordinary period of history, conveying humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope,” Sunday’s announcement read. 

"The look of lockdown": Lotti Sofia took this photo of her lockdown pal, Pepter, in London. "This picture is a representation of our daily dose of daydreaming that we do while we watch the world go by without us," Sofia wrote. "We've felt lonely, sad, worried, confused, anxious and everything in between, but we are grateful for every key worker, our health and for the humanity and empathy that has grown out of this dreary time."

Those who submitted pictures were asked to provide a short written description to explain the experiences and emotions depicted in their photographs. The project focuses on three core themes: “Helpers and Heroes,” “Your New Normal,” and “Acts of Kindness.” Some of the winning photos will also be displayed in towns and cities across the U.K. later this year. 

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"Never without her grandma": This image by Melanie Lowis of London shows 5-year-old Millie, who made a cutout of her beloved 73-year-old grandmother, a retired teacher, to partner with her on home schooling. "When lockdown ends, and the real grandma can return, it will be a very happy and emotional reunion," Lowis wrote.

Duchess Kate spoke on British talk show “This Morning” in May to explain what she expected to see in the submitted pictures, including resilience, bravery and kindness by ordinary Brits.

“We’ve all seen some incredible images out there and heard some amazing stories and some desperately sad stories, but also really uplifting ones as well,” Kate said. “I really hope through a project like this, we might be able to showcase some of those stories and to document and share a moment in time, I suppose, that we’re all experiencing.” 

Contributing: Maria Puente

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