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Kate Middleton shares a glimpse of the book Hold Still

The Duchess of Cambridge has shared a glimpse of her photography book Hold Still ahead of its release on Friday.

It comes just a day after Kate’s sister-in-law Meghan Markle unveiled her own £12.99 children’s story, The Bench, sparking a battle of the royal publications.

Kate, 39, a keen photographer, launched a campaign during the first lockdown last year to ask the public to submit images which captured the period.  

Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020, features 100 final ‘poignant and personal’ portraits selected from 31,000 entrants. 

Meanwhile, Meghan’s book was inspired by Prince Harry and her son Archie and comes illustrated with pictures of a red-headed soldier. 

The Duchess of Sussex, 39, said the book – which will come out in the UK and US simultaneously – was inspired by a poem she had written for Harry on Father’s Day the month after Archie was born. 

The Duchess of Cambridge has shared a glimpse of her photography book Hold Still (pictured) ahead of its release on Friday

The Duchess of Sussex said her book - which will sell for £12.99 ($18.99) - would explore the 'special bond between father and son' as 'seen through a mother's eyes'

The Duchess of Sussex said her book – which will sell for £12.99 ($18.99) – would explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’

Kate (pictured), a keen amateur photographer, wrote the introduction to the book, which showcases pictures from her Hold Still campaign of 2020

Kate (pictured), a keen amateur photographer, wrote the introduction to the book, which showcases pictures from her Hold Still campaign of 2020

The Duchess announced the Hold Still book would be going out on Friday (pictured). Proceeds will go to Mind and the National Portrait Gallery

The Duchess announced the Hold Still book would be going out on Friday (pictured). Proceeds will go to Mind and the National Portrait Gallery

Kate’s book, created in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, will be available in UK bookshops and online from May 7, one year since the project was first launched and a month before Meghan’s book is published.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who announced earlier today they’d be starting their own YouTube channel, shared a video which flicked through the pages of the book to their Instagram, with the caption: ‘Coming this Friday #HoldStill2020’.  

The fast-paced video shared by the Cambridges on Instagram showed the different pages of the Hold Still book, and some of the 100 portraits that were selected.

Excited royal fans praised the Duchess’s work, as some said she was ‘smashing it’. ‘Wonderful. I love the way this woman goes about her business,’ one said.

‘This was such a fantastic project! Congratulations to the Duchess of Cambridge for this awesome initiative,’ another said. 

The new book includes an introduction from Kate, in which she explains why launching Hold Still was so important to her. 

The cover of Hold Still immortalises a NHS worker wearing PPE, frowning at the camera in a moving portrait, pictured

The cover of Hold Still immortalises a NHS worker wearing PPE, frowning at the camera in a moving portrait, pictured

The book showed portraits taken during the pandemic (pictured), and will be released on Friday online and across UK bookstores

The book showed portraits taken during the pandemic (pictured), and will be released on Friday online and across UK bookstores

The new book includes an introduction from Kate, in which she explains why launching Hold Still was so important to her

The new book includes an introduction from Kate, in which she explains why launching Hold Still was so important to her

She writes: ‘When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced – the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers. 

‘But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal.

‘Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing – to capture individuals’ stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic.’

She goes on: ‘For me, the power of the images is in the poignant and personal stories that sit behind them. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to some of the photographers and sitters, to hear their stories first-hand – from moments of joy, love and community spirit, to deep sadness, pain, isolation and loss.

‘A common theme of those conversations was how lockdown reminded us about the importance of human connection and the huge value we place on the relationships we have with the people around us.

‘Although we were physically apart, these images remind us that, as families, communities and as a nation, we need each other more than we had ever realised.’

She concludes by thanking everyone who took the time to submit an image, adding: ‘Your stories are the most crucial part of this project. 

The announcement comes after the UK marked the one-year anniversary of the first national lockdown earlier this week. Pictured: an image from the new book

The announcement comes after the UK marked the one-year anniversary of the first national lockdown earlier this week. Pictured: an image from the new book

‘I hope that the final 100 photographs showcase the experiences and emotions borne during this time in history, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon this unparalleled period.’

Net proceeds raised from the sale of the book will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery. 

The funds will help to support arts and mental health projects across the UK, including Mind’s work in local communities and the National Portrait Gallery’s education and community projects.

As well as showcasing the final 100 images and the stories that accompany each of them, the book – which has been put together with support from the Co-op – will look back at highlights from the community exhibition which took the portraits to billboards and outdoor poster sites in 80 towns, cities and areas in October 2020.

Net proceeds raised from the sale of the book (pictured) will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery

Net proceeds raised from the sale of the book (pictured) will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery

Over the course of the project the Duchess shared a number of her favourite images on the Kensington Royal Instagram page, including one of a young girl seen drawing a huge rainbow onto a window pane, which made it into the book (pictured)

Over the course of the project the Duchess shared a number of her favourite images on the Kensington Royal Instagram page, including one of a young girl seen drawing a huge rainbow onto a window pane, which made it into the book (pictured)

Over the course of the project the Duchess shared a number of her favourite images on the Kensington Royal Instagram page, including a Black Lives Matter protester holding a sign reading: ‘Be on the right side of history.’

Another of the snaps was a black and white image showing a man embracing his daughter, while one shows a child kissing their godmother through a window.

Meanwhile others featured a student holding her exam qualifications, and a young girl seen drawing a huge rainbow onto a window pane.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of The National Portrait Gallery said: ‘The public response to Hold Still, which was spearheaded by our Patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been phenomenal.

‘The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown. We are honoured to have been able to share a selection of these photographs with the nation, first through the online and community exhibition and now through this new publication.

‘The proceeds raised from the book will help us to continue to care for and share our national Collection and to provide free access, inspiration and learning, through the work we do at the Gallery and our UK wide community and education projects.

‘Hold Still is an important record of this extraordinary moment in our history – expressed through the faces of the nation – and we hope will remain so for generations to come.’

As well as showcasing the final 100 images and the stories that accompany each of them, the book - which has been put together with support from the Co-op - will look back at highlights from the community exhibition which took the portraits to billboards and outdoor poster sites in 80 towns, cities and areas in October 2020

As well as showcasing the final 100 images and the stories that accompany each of them, the book – which has been put together with support from the Co-op – will look back at highlights from the community exhibition which took the portraits to billboards and outdoor poster sites in 80 towns, cities and areas in October 2020

In Meghan's book, one illustration by artist Christian Robinson shows a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window, in a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: 'This is your bench, Where life begins, For you and our son our baby, our kin'

In Meghan’s book, one illustration by artist Christian Robinson shows a red-headed soldier wearing an American-style Army cap holding his young son aloft as a woman watches on crying from a window, in a likely reference to her and Harry, who served in Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals. The words read: ‘This is your bench, Where life begins, For you and our son our baby, our kin’ 

Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside. A media release said the book featured a 'diverse group of fathers and sons'

Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside. A media release said the book featured a ‘diverse group of fathers and sons’ 

Who is Christian Robinson, the artist Meghan Markle chose to illustrate her first children’s book

Christian Robinson, 34, is the American illustrator behind what Meghan Markle dubbed the ‘beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations’ in her first children’s book The Bench.

The Duchess of Sussex said she ‘worked closely’ with the California-based artist to depict father-son relationships through ‘an inclusive lens’.

Robinson was born in 1986 in Hollywood, California.

The Bench's illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan's home state of California

The Bench’s illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan’s home state of California

He was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt.

He used drawing as a way to ‘make space for himself and to create the kind of world he wanted to see’, his website states. 

Robinson – who is now based in Sacramento, California – studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts.

He worked on animations with The Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone, written by @tracintodd and illustrated by Mr Robinson, tells the story of Eunice

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone, written by @tracintodd and illustrated by Mr Robinson, tells the story of Eunice

Last Stop of Market Street (pictured) won him several awards

Last Stop of Market Street (pictured) won him several awards

During an internship with Pixar, Robinson was asked to do some drawings of characters for the film Up.

Pete Doctor – Up’s director – spotted his illustrations and asked Robinson to make the children’s-book version of the film.

From there, Robinson did various projects – including teaching children art – before he was ask to illustrate more books. 

His drawings for New York Times bestseller Last Stop on Market Street – about a young boy’s bus journey – won him several awards, including a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, added: ‘The coronavirus pandemic is a mental health emergency as well as a physical one. The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, and any recession that lies ahead means there has never been a more crucial time to prioritise our mental health.

‘This inspiring collection of portraits illustrates the impact of the pandemic in all its complexity, but also how creativity, art and human connection can help us find meaning in unprecedented challenges.

‘Thank you to everyone who submitted a portrait to tell such a moving and deeply human story of the pandemic. And to the National Portrait Gallery and The Duchess of Cambridge for choosing Mind as a joint beneficiary of proceeds from the sales of this book.’

For more information or to pre-order a copy of the book, visit the National Portrait Gallery’s website.

Yesterday, Meghan revealed her book would explore the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’. 

The story, which will be published on June 8 by Random House Children’s Books, will be illustrated by bestselling Californian artist Christian Robinson, who was brought up by his grandmother in a one-bedroom flat also shared with his brother, two cousins and aunt. 

The Sussexes were seen sitting on a bench in the garden of their Montecito home in September last year when they urged Americans to ‘reject hate speech’ in a controversial intervention before the US election. However, in quotes promoting the book Meghan refers to a poem she wrote a month after Archie was born, when they were still in the UK.

Photos from inside the book shows a boy being lifted into the air by a red-haired man in military uniform as a woman weeps from the window.

The words accompanying the picture say: ‘Looking out at My Love and our beautiful boy. And here in the window I’ll have tears of joy’.

Another image features a father with his baby boy sleeping on a lounger outside.

The words say: ‘From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy’. 

A media release reads: ‘Inspired by her own husband and son, The Duchess of Sussex’s debut touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.  

‘Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Bench gives readers a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and lasting comfort.’

The press statement described the Duchess of Sussex as a ‘mother, wife, feminist, and activist’ who ‘currently resides in her home state of California with her family, two dogs, and a growing flock of rescue chickens’. 

Meghan previously wrote a blog, The Tig, and has also penned an article for Time magazine. Her other publishing experience includes guest editing Vogue in September 2019. 

The Bench’s illustrator, Christian Robinson, is from Meghan’s home state of California and has previously worked with Sesame Street and Pixar. 

He recently received a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. 

Other royals to have written books include Prince Charles, who penned A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (1989) and a children’s book, The Old Man of Lochnagar, in 1989.

The Queen’s first cousin, Princess Michael of Kent, has written several historical novels and the autobiographical A Cheetah’s Tale, about her early life travelling Africa and raising a cheetah cub.  

The book is published by Penguin Random House and will be released on June 8. 

It is the latest venture since the Sussexes signed a £75million Netflix deal and a lucrative partnership to produce podcasts for Spotify.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk