The Duchess of Cambridge debuted a new coat today as she marked the official publication of Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation in 2020.
The Hold Still project was spearheaded by the Duchess in tandem with the National Portrait Gallery. It was a year ago today that the Duchess launched the endeavor with an interview on ITV’s This Morning show, asking people to submit photos showing life in lockdown.
Below, the 186-page hardcover book, which features 100 photo portraits selected from thousands submitted in May and June of last year.
You may recall that the Duchess wrote the book’s introduction. Kate started the day by placing a copy of the book on the grounds of Kensington Palace as part of a partnership with The Book Fairies.
Let the search begin!
We’ve joined @the_bookfairies for the day to share copies of Hold Still around the UK with you.
Each copy is adorned with a gold book fairy sticker, gold ribbon, and has a letter from The Duchess tucked inside. #HSbookfairies pic.twitter.com/BLsA2WkN3E
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) May 7, 2021
The book after the Duchess placed it in Kensington Gardens.
More from People’s story:
Ahead of her morning visits, Kate shared footage from her outing in support of The Book Fairies — a U.K.-based organization with the purpose of sharing books, leaving them in places for people worldwide to discover — in conjunction with the release of her book. The royal took part in hiding 150 copies of Hold Still in secret locations around the U.K., according to the release.
A Tweet from the Book Fairies shows one copy amidst a lovely group of flowers.
A closer look at one of the books via this Tweet from Alice Borsatti.
And the letter inside each of the hidden copies.
Copies were placed throughout the UK. In Edinburgh, Scotland, these St. Mary’s Primary School students shared their find with deputy head Fiona Mcdonnell.
Nina Robinson, who has a photo included in the book, placed a Book Fairies copy near Crystal Palace Park just south of London.
Victoria Ward reports in her Telegraph story, “The aim of the treasure hunt was to take the 100 portraits featured in the book “back to the community” by allowing the wider public to learn about the project and the powerful individual stories behind each image.” Below, two more locations.
You can see many more hidden copies and stories of how/why they were hidden on social media using the hashtag #HSBookFairies.
Now to the Duchess’s engagements today. Her first was at the Royal London Hospital, where she heard how art is commissioned by the hospital’s award-winning arts and health service, Vital Arts.
She was shown some of the art displayed in the hospital’s wards, waiting rooms, and corridors.
She also heard more about how the National Portrait Gallery collaborates with the hospital to bring workshops to young patients and their families. Here you see her with Director of Vital Arts for Barts Health NHS Trust, Catsou Roberts (C), and Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Nicholas Cullinan (R).
One of the pieces the Duchess viewed was the framed portrait of Melanie, March 2020 by Johannah Churchill, which is on the cover of the Hold Still book.
The Duchess takes a closer look.
Kensington Palace reports the photo will “hang in the hospital’s main corridor as a reminder of the phenomenal efforts of NHS staff throughout the pandemic. Further portraits will be given to locations around the UK for public display over the coming months.”
At the hospital, the Duchess spoke with staff to learn how everyone is coping with the impact of the pandemic.
A quick video via Emily Nash of Hello.
Kate, wearing @eponinelondon, met staff at the @RoyalLondonHosp to hear about their experiences of working through the #COVID19 pandemic #HoldStill pic.twitter.com/PKNkEhjOWi
— Emily Nash (@emynash) May 7, 2021
In January, the hospital was caring for double the COVID patients treated during the first wave. The Duchess also shared photos taken by staff documenting the pandemic.
The Duchess then visited the National Portrait Gallery.
She has been the gallery’s royal patron since 2012. Today she visited the gallery’s archive.
In these images, you see her with curator Magda Keaney. The photo being viewed below is of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised millions for the NHS (National Health Service) Charities; it is one of the one-hundred Hold Still images.
Kensington Palace reports in a news release, “The gallery is home to the largest collection of portraits in the world, including over 250,000 photographs which span from the 1840s through to the present day.” Another view, this one via The Daily Mail’s Rebecca English.
She also met with Hold Still entrants Lotti Sofia, Niaz Maleknia, and Claudia Burton, whose photographs feature in the book.
Preserving #HoldStill2020 for future generations in the @NPGLondon Archive:
Today the final 100 Hold Still images have become part of the Gallery’s national Collection, joining over 250,000 photographs spanning from the 1840s through to the present day. pic.twitter.com/j67iJo8m5N
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) May 7, 2021
The Duchess listens as Naz Maleknia (C) and Claudia Burton (R), tell her more about the stories behind their photographs and their love of photography.
Now for our look at what Kate wore for the day’s activities.
She was in a new (to us) coat by Eponine London, a London-based boutique brand she has worn previously. The piece is from the 2018 A/W line and called the Wool Crepe Coat with Mandarin Collar.
The vibrant coat features a front closure with self-covered buttons, buttons at the sleeve, scoop pockets at the hip, back waist belt, and the Mandarin collar. Thank you to Laura for her identification of the coat.
Beneath the coat, we had a partial look at a skirt the Duchess was wearing. It looks like a past-season piece from Zara, the Pleated Skirt with Belt ($89.90, out of stock).
The pleated a-line midi skirt is made of a poly/viscose/elastane blend, with a hidden zipper side closure, and it came with a self-belt. Many thanks to Michael for a Facebook message suggesting this is the piece the Duchess was wearing. UPDATE: As Katerina points out in a comment, the hem depth is different on the Duchess’s skirt from the Zara skirt. I attributed this to Kate having had it hemmed after purchasing the skirt, but it is also possible it is not the Zara skirt.
Kate carried a new bag, the Nano Montreal ($395) in ‘smooth toffee leather’ by Demellier London.
The bag measures roughly 7″ x 4.5″ x 3.5″ and has an adjustable, removable strap so it may be carried by the handle or worn as a cross-body style. Demellier notes its suppliers are “certified by the European Leather Working Group, guaranteeing the highest standards of sustainability and sourcing.” The company continues its permanent charity initiative A Bag, A Life, “funding lifesaving vaccines and medical treatments aimed to save the life of a child in need, in collaboration with international charity SOS Children’s Villages and local vaccine providers.” Many thanks to Lauren for her speedy ID of the bag.
Kate brought back a pair of pumps by Ralph Lauren, the retailer’s Celia style ($742), first noted in September 2020. The Celia is a classic point-toe pump in calfskin with a 4.1″ heel.
She also wore her ‘Empress’ earrings by Mappin and Webb.
The Hold Still book is available through the National Portrait Gallery and also at Amazon UK. The Rumble reports the book “has become an instant bestseller less than 24 hours after its release. The stunning book stormed to the top of the Amazon bestseller list in numerous categories, including Cultural studies, Photography Collections & Exhibitions, Portraits in Art, Architecture & Photography, and the overall Best Seller list.”
Net proceeds from the book’s sale will be equally split to support the work of the National Portrait Gallery and Mind, a mental health charity.