Spearheaded by Kate Middleton, the patron of the National Portrait Gallery, announced Hold Still, a photography project in the month of May when the entire UK was in the lockdown. The Duchess of Cambridge's photo exhibit encouraged professional, amateur photographers to capture the mood, spirit, and experiences during the pandemic.
The selected final 100 entries of the "Hold Still" initiative were promised a place in the virtual exhibition on the National Portrait Gallery's official website. Personally picked by the royal and other expert judges, the 100 portraits truly portray life amid the coronavirus crisis are finally unveiled.
The project focused on three core themes—Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness. According to NPG's press release, the initiative received an enthusiastic response with over 31,000 submissions within a period of six weeks. The entries were made by entrants ranging from four to 85 years-old.
It is said that the panel of judges made their choice of 100 images by assessing "the emotions and experiences they conveyed." The photo exhibition went online on Monday, as the gallery remains closed until spring 2023.
A small collection of images were also viewed by Queen Elizabeth II. Congratulating the participants of the competition, the queen sent a message of appreciation. She expressed her delight at being able to witness the heart-touching portraits that reflected life during the lockdown. The 94-year-old monarch went on to write about how inspired she and the duchess were looking at the pictures that tell stories about people's resilience.
"It was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to look through a number of portraits that made the final 100 images for the Hold Still photography project. The Duchess of Cambridge and I were inspired to see how the photographs have captured the resilience of the British people at such a challenging time," the queen wrote. "The Duchess 0f Cambridge and I send our best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted a portrait to the project."
It was earlier revealed that the royal mother was so impressed with the response that she left personal comments and signature while liking some of the entries posted on Instagram. She also shared a handful of pictures from the campaign on Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's official Instagram account.