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“Hold Still” Virtual Exhibition Opens – It Is Terrific

The “Hold Still” photo exhibition spearheaded by the Duchess has opened online. 

Most will remember the photo project was created in tandem with the National Portrait Gallery; Kate is the organization’s patron. Below, she is seen talking about the endeavor in a May ITV interview.

From The Telegraph’s review of the virtual exhibit

Back in May, she invited the public to contribute to an open-call “community project”, recording everyday life amid the pandemic: hold still, Britain, while we take a photographic portrait of the nation. Of course, this came at a time when all of us, at the government’s behest, were “holding still”. 

Though Kate did offer some guidance, suggesting a few themes, the ambition was to be inclusive, not prescriptive

A panel of five judges selected 100 photos for the online exhibit that opened today, choosing them from more than 31,500 images submitted to the project. Below, the Duchess and the other four judges.

Above you see (clockwise from top left): Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery; the Duchess of Cambridge; Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England; Lemn Sissay MBE, writer and poet; and Maryam Wahid, photographer.  In a piece for The Sunday Times, the Duchess shared comments about the entries. 

Every submission told a unique story — from moments of joy, love and community spirit to deep sadness, pain, isolation and loss. It’s during times such as these we realise more than ever the significance of human connection.

In a video with the judges speaking about the entries Kate said, “the quality of the images has been extraordinary, and the poignancy and the stories behind the images have been equally as moving as well.”

More about the submissions: 

  •  The 31,598 entries came from all corners of the UK with the geographic spread stretching from Oban in Argyll, Scotland to Delabole in Cornwall and from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Sheringham in Norfolk.
  • We were also delighted that so many children and young people took part and we received over 650 images from 99 schools. 

To mark the launch of the virtual exhibition, Kensington Palace released a statement from HM to Hold Still entrants. While at Balmoral the Duchess showed HM some of the 100 photos chosen for the online exhibition. 

There is also a 1:30 video about the exhibit. Among the voices you will hear in the video: The Queen, The Duchess, and Captain Sir Tom Moore. (Fair warning: a Vogue headline about the exhibit reads, “Prepare to Ugly Cry at the Duchess of Cambridge’s Virtual Hold Still Exhibition.’) 

All of the photos are accompanied by information submitted with the entry.

Chris Ship of ITV spoke with 4 year old Mila who is one of the 100 finalists in Kate’s #HoldStill2020 told us: “There is a real life Princess who picked my picture. The Queen knows about everything, Everyone in this whole entire world will see my picture.”

Such a star ⭐️

Early in the lockdown, ITV did a story about Mila and her wish that people would stay home. You can see that story here. You can see all of the Curator’s Choice photos selected by Mr. Cullinan by clicking here

 Here is the tweet posted by Wendy Huson this morning. 

As The Telegraph’s Alastair put it in his piece

Is there a single image that sums up Britain’s lockdown in the way that, say, documentary photographs by Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange captured the Great Depression? I’m not sure there is – in part, because lockdown, initially understood as a great leveller, turned out to affect people in profoundly different, and unequal, ways. Consider the myriad characters we encounter in Hold Still. A bright-eyed girl claps enthusiastically on a Thursday night. An exhausted nightshift worker in Wales seems on the brink of collapse. What do they have in common with the 17-year-old twins afflicted with ennui, trapped behind a window’s mottled glass? 

Click here to view the Hold Still microsite; click here to see the gallery of images.  


  • The Guardian’s story about the project is here; The Telegraph’s review by critic Alastair Sooke is here; The Daily Mail’s coverage is here; The Sun’s piece is here; Simon Perry’s article for People is here 
  • A piece with Kate’s comments accompanying some of the images in The Times of London is here; the Vogue story about the exhibit is here 
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Patty Rasmussen

Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Not an ugly cry but definitely a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. Goodness, this was a grand idea and beautifully, lovingly executed. Well done, Kate, et. al.


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

What a fantastic project from a fantastic Duchess of Cambridge. These photos perfectly capture the many facets of this challenging time. I really hope they will make this into a book.


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

I couldn’t get through the photographs without sobbing. So many of them expressed feelings that went straight to my heart. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best and this is no exception. Bravo!


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

What an amazing project! So many emotions looking at these photos. What a testament to our resilience in these crazy times. Congratulations to Kate and to everyone sharing such personal experiences with us.


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

This is definitely one for the history books. What an amazing project! Kate and her team showed such foresight. The photos are so diverse and moving. Even though it was a British project it is universal in the emotions it portrays. If that ever turns into a book it will be on my coffee table.

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