New Royal Exhibition Displays Poignant Portrait of Kate Middleton

New Royal Exhibition Displays Poignant Portrait of Kate Middleton

After much anticipation, the Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography exhibition opened at the King’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace on Friday, May 17. The curated collection features previously unseen portraits of the royal family, alongside celebrated images that fans may be more familiar with.

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Exhibition curator Alessandro Nasini has selected portraits by esteemed artists including Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, Annie Leibovitz, and Andy Warhol.

The exhibition features a poignant portrait of Kate Middleton, captured by Paolo Roversi and originally shared ahead of the royal’s 40th birthday in 2022. The ethereal black-and-white image sees Middleton displaying her side profile in a white, off-the-shoulder Alexander McQueen gown. The accessories are kept to a minimum, with pearl-drop earrings and her blue sapphire, diamond encrusted engagement ring that famously once belonged to Princess Diana. Middleton adopts a royal-favorite pose, remaining seated and staring into the distance.

When the image was initially released in 2022, alongside two other portraits in honor of Middleton’s birthday, it entered a collection belonging to London’s National Portrait Gallery, of which she is a patron.

The portrait of Middleton has often been compared to one painted over 150 years ago of Queen Alexandra, then the Princess of Wales. Captured by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, the painting shows Alexandra of Denmark in a billowing white gown with crystal blue adornments. Wearing a floral headdress, the royal is standing, but turned to the side ever so slightly.

The exhibition featuring Middleton comes as she continues to take time away from public-facing duties following her cancer diagnosis. In a video shared on March 22, the mum-of-three revealed she had started a course of “preventative chemotherapy” after being diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer following a planned abdominal surgery in January. During a recent royal engagement, Prince William said that his wife is “doing well” when asked by a concerned member of the public.

As for the royal exhibition, which is set to remain open on select days until Oct. 6, other notable images include a vibrant portrait, featuring bleached out details, of Queen Elizabeth II by Warhol. There is also a striking photograph of King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, taken at Birkhall, his private residence in Scotland. Captured by Nadav Kander, the image was commissioned by TIME for the cover of its Nov. 4, 2013, magazine.

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