The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Phillip and Holly about new photography project with The National Portrait Gallery


The Duchess of Cambridge talks to Phillip and Holly about new photography project with The National Portrait Gallery

The Duchess of Cambridge has today launched a new initiative with the National Portrait Gallery titled ‘Hold Still’, which invites the public to contribute to a nationwide photography project giving a snapshot of what life is really like in lockdown.

To discuss the project further as well as life during such unprecedented times, The Duchess of Cambridge spoke with hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on This Morning.

Asked how she is coping in these strangest of times, The Duchess responded: “Fine, thank you. It’s extraordinary. I’m sure you’re experiencing the same yourselves and your families and things. We’re stuck into homeschooling again. They’re unprecedented times really. But no we’re fine, thank you for asking.”

Speaking about homeschooling, The Duchess said: “George gets very upset because he just wants to do all of Charlotte’s projects. Spider sandwiches are far cooler than literacy work!”

On the inspiration to get involved with the ‘Hold Still’ project, The Duchess explained: “I think we’ve all seen some incredible images out there and heard some amazing stories and some desperately sad stories, but also some really uplifting ones as well. And I really hope that through a project like this we might be able to showcase some of those stories to document and share a moment in time I suppose that we are all experiencing.”

The project is asking for a series of photographs, within three separate categories, which represents life in lockdown. The images could have been captured on a camera or a mobile phone. The categories include ‘Helpers and Heroes’, ‘Your New Normal’ and ‘Acts of Kindness’.

On the ‘Helpers and Heroes’ category The Duchess explained: “I think we’ve all been struck by the most amazing images that have come out recently. I know over the past few weeks we’re going through some desperately sad times and all those working on the frontline are really showcasing the hardship that they’re going through, some of the tragedy that they’re witnessing and things like that.

“I think we’ve seen some good examples, but really it’s for all those in the communities and out there on the frontline showing their amazing dedication really during this pandemic.”

The Duchess shared some of her favourite examples as inspiration for each category. For ‘Helpers and Heroes’ The Duchess shared images such as Colonel Tom and also the intensive care nurse from Nottinghamshire whose photo showed her face covered in red marks from wearing PPE.



The Duchess commented: “It’s a really harrowing image actually and some of the images are so important to document at this time. They’re the things that not everybody at home is going to witness, but I think it is so important for all of us to be able to see these sorts of images to showcase what some of those on the frontline are really experiencing.”

The second category is ‘Your New Normal’ and The Duchess’ example was an image of Florence (3) and Edith (1) who went to visit their grandparents, but had to socially distance through a window.



The Duchess said: “Moments like this I think are so special. There are some desperately sad stories out there, but moments like this are really heartwarming to see, that actually there is a connection there. It’s different, it is the new normal for all of us but actually those moments can take place and I think it really resonated with me that photograph.”

Asked how her own three children are coping with the changes that lockdown has brought, The Duchess said: “It’s really hard and actually we hadn’t done a huge amount of FaceTime and face calls and things like that, but obviously we’re doing that a lot more now and actually it’s been really great. We try and check in daily with family members and speak to them about news and things like that. In some ways I suppose we’ve got a lot more contact and a lot more face time than perhaps we would’ve done before.

“But it is difficult, it’s hard to explain to a five and a six, nearly seven-year-old, what’s going on. But the schools are being great at supporting them as well. Hard times, but we’ve got the support out there I think.”

The final category is ‘Acts of Kindness’ and The Duchess’ example was Phyllis Taylor (83) who was delivered Sunday lunch through the window by her daughters in Warwickshire.



The Duchess added: “There’s been a huge number of images, well lots of images of care workers and of those working on the frontline but actually the community support, those small acts of kindness go such a long way and I think they should be celebrated, those are the positive stories in this really difficult time. So I think it’s really great to capture those sorts of stories and experiences as well.”

Holly then shared an image taken by her brother-in-law, Dominic.



Holly said: “This is, he’s opened his window there and he’s put little espresso shots for the refuse guys when they come and pick up the rubbish there. As a little act of kindness to just go, ‘You probably haven’t been able to get your coffee this morning, here you go, help yourselves.’”

To which The Duchess remarked: “That’s brilliant!”

On who is eligible to enter the project, The Duchess explained: “Anyone. I hope some of the schools will take this on as school projects and fun things to do. Everyone and anyone at home. There’s lots of images of clinical settings and of the community spirit, but actually there’s not that much imagery of what people are experiencing back home in isolation in their own homes and things like that. Life has changed totally for all of us and actually to be able to see what people are living through and going though at this time, I think would be great.”

“I think what I was really drawn to was people and I suppose telling the human side of this story as well because I think we are all connected to this in either an individual level or a community level and actually being able to showcase portraits, I suppose, and to try and collate a portrait of the nation at this difficult time, I think is what really inspired me to try and connect everybody on a human level and share our experiences.”

On sharing some of her own photography tips, The Duchess laughed: “Well, I’m very much an amateur photographer, I sort of learn along the way, but actually during this time I have spent lots of time picking up my camera and taking photographs of the children because they are always around us and we are doing stuff together, which has been great.”

“I think one of the fantastic things about photography is really capturing that moment, so it’s not stage setting it, it’s not setting it up perfectly, it’s not clearing your house away so you’ve got the perfect studio setup, but it’s really capturing those moments that feel real to you and that capture moments or an expression or a feeling, I suppose. And that’s the power of photography, it can capture a moment and tell a story.”

Commenting on the recently released photograph of son Louis painting, captioned ‘Instagram vs. Reality’, The Duchess joked: “I should’ve taken a photograph of what I looked like after as well! Luckily, that wasn’t documented but I was pretty much, I looked like Louis at the end of those.”

And on the image of daughter Charlotte helping to deliver food packages: “Again this was part of a collection, that photograph particularly of Charlotte was part of a collection to try and tell a story and that’s really what we hope people will take inspiration through this project, is really just to try and tell their part of a story from a personal level to try and help showcase and share what they’re going through.”

On the images The Duchess took back in January of the Holocaust survivors to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz: “I think as well as capturing a moment, I think photographs have got an amazing ability to tell a story and this was their incredible stories to tell and I felt so lucky to be a part of that project. And yes, their stories and their lives are so complex and to be able to create one image I suppose, that is able to tell that story was a challenge but they’re amazing and to hear their stories first hand was extraordinary.”

On the effect that project had on her personally, The Duchess said: “In some ways, some of these images as well, it’s taking time to stop and reflect and really think about a moment in time and for the Holocaust survivors it was taking time to reflect on their stories and their experiences. And I suppose now it’s really trying to encourage everybody to stop and think about this time that we’re going through and to tell the story of this period of time.”

The Duchess concluded the interview by asking if Phil and Holly were going to enter the ‘Hold Still’ project, to which Phil answered: “I’m definitely going to enter, but with a photograph that I have taken myself.”

And Holly added: “I’ll take my own photo, see what I can do.”

To which The Duchess said: “You’re not going to get judged. That’s the thing as well.”

Applications for the ‘Hold Still’ project in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery are open for six weeks from today.

For further information on the ‘Hold Still’ project visit