Three photos taken by the Duchess of Cambridge will appear in Life Through a Royal Lens – an exhibition exploring how the monarchy uses photos to protect and control its image.
It’s no secret that the Duchess of Cambridge is a keen photographer and an advocate for the arts, as she replaced the Queen as Patron of the Royal Photographic Society and regularly shares portraits she's taken of her children.
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In 2015, Kate Middleton shook things up when she took the first official photo of Princess Charlotte shared it on the Duke and Duchess’ of Cambridge’s Instagram account @dukeandduchessofcambrige (opens in new tab).
Six years later she spearheaded Hold Still, a community photography project documenting life during the COVID 19 pandemic through a series of portraits. A book of the same name collected 100 of these images, and a community exhibition saw over 400 photos displayed in 80 cities across the UK.
Unlike Royals before her, Kate Middleton has taken a much more hands-on approach when it comes to photographing her children. The photos she shares are intimate, naturally lit portraits often taken at her home in Norfolk. Her candid approach to photography offers a snapshot into the Duchess’ family life and it was her grandfather who ignited her love of the practice.
In an interview with the Sunday Express (opens in new tab), Claudia Acott Williams, curator ar Historic Royal Palaces said, “Her grandfather was a very good photographer. When she was a child, he would show her his slides. It was him who taught her how to take photographs”.
Her love of photography continued while studying Art History at St Andrew's University Kate where she studied portraits taken by Lewis Caroll as the basis for her dissertation titled Angels from Heaven: Lewis Carroll’s Photographic Interpretation of Childhood. According to Williams, this project would have been “excellent preparation” for the Duchess taking the official photos of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
One of the photos submitted by the Duchess for the Life Through a Royal Lens exhibition depicts the eldest, Prince George, wearing an England football shirt – which can also be found on the official Instagram – but the other two photos haven't been made known.
The Duchess of Cambridge isn't the first royal to have an affinity for photography. Last year to celebrate World Photography Day (opens in new tab), Buckingham Palace shared four previously unseen photos of the Queen and in one she can be seen operating a Rollei 35.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are also known for their love of photography and played an active part in its development. In 1851, they even lent the Great Exhibition several photos from their personal collection to display. A few years later in 1854, Queen Victoria commissioned Roger Fenton to take a photo of her and Prince Albert and it's the first photo as a reigning monarch.
The Life Through a Royal Lens (opens in new tab) exhibition takes place at Kensington Palace, the childhood home of Queen Victoria and is on until 30 October 2022. Tickets are free for members, £20 for an adult, £10 for a child and paying visitors will also have access to the Victoria: A Royal Childhood exhibition and The King's and Queen's State Apartments. Other photographers featured include Nadav Kander, Rankin and Chris.
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