Friday, 7th of May 2021—The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) celebrated the publication of the National Portrait Gallery’s new book Hold Still: A Portrait of our Nation in 2020, by joining The Book Fairies in hiding copies around the UK for people to find.
Each ‘hidden’ book featured a special Book Fairy sticker and a letter from The Duchess of Cambridge was placed inside. They were finished with a gold ribbon tied into a bow.
Wearing a long red dress by Eponine London, Kate placed one copy of the Hold Still book by the Queen Victoria Fountains outside of Kensington Palace Gardens. Watch Kate leave her copy below:
The other Book Fairies placed copies in locations that “gave them hope” during the national lockdown last year.
Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation In 2020 is a coffee-table book featuring the final 100 portraits from the Hold Still project, spearheaded by Kate and run with the National Portrait Gallery.
A year ago to the day, Kate appeared on ITV’s This Morning to launch Hold Still. She invited people of all ages, from all over the country, to send in photographs depicting life under lockdown.
The project received tens of thousands of submissions. In late summer, a judging panel whittled the entrants down to just 100 finalists. Those final 100 images were displayed in a digital exhibition on the National Portrait Gallery’s website and later, they were taken to the streets.
After leaving her book by the fountain, Kate visited two different locations to mark the book’s publication.
First, she visited the Royal London Hospital. Here, she learned how art is commissioned for Vital Arts, the Trust’s charitably funded arts organisation. Vital Arts aims to enhance the hospital environment, improve patient experience and introduce new audiences to contemporary art.
We offer patients, staff and visitors meaningful cultural encounters which they might not otherwise access. This engagement frequently proves inspiring and mind-opening, thus making time spent in hospital more positive.Vital Arts
Kate also viewed a framed portrait of Melanie, March 2020, one of the most recognisable images from the Hold Still project and the photograph chosen for the book’s cover.
The striking picture, taken by nurse Johannah Churchill, shows her colleague Melanie wearing PPE in clinic. Kate and the NPG gifted the portrait to The Royal London hospital. It will hang in the hospital as a reminder of the phenomenal efforts of the NHS throughout the pandemic.
Also during the hospital visit, Kate spoke to staff about their experiences of working through the pandemic. The Duchess discussed their selflessness and thanked them for their hard work and dedication.
Read: The Duchess of Cambridge pays a special visit to The Royal London Hospital at bartshealth.nhs.uk
Later, Kate visited the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library. Here, she met with some of the Hold Still entrants and viewed other photographic portraits from the Gallery’s archive.
Also, the NPG announced they will acquire the digital images of all one hundred portraits featured in the Hold Still project and preserve them in their national Collection:
Today the final 100 Hold Still images have become part of the Gallery’s national Collection, joining over 250,000 photographs spanning from the 1840s through to the present day. The Duchess also took a look at other photographs from the Gallery’s Collection, which dates back to the 19th century — all documenting people’s experiences and key moments in our nation’s social history.@KensingtonRoyal
Kate chose a red coat dress by Eponine London for her day of engagements in London. The ankle-length piece is from the brand’s AW18 collection, it’s made from a wool-crepe fabric and features 6 large buttons, bracelet-length sleeves, pockets, a slit on the front and a mandarin collar. On their Instagram Stories, Eponine ask people to get in touch if they want to make an enquiry or place a custom order. I do not know the coat dress’s RRP.
Eponine London was founded by Jet Shenkman in 2011. The brand is known for its colourful, unique and distinctly elegant designs. Kate’s worn a handful of designs from the brand in the past, including a red checked skirt suit and a blue belted coat dress.
Under the coat, Kate wore a long coffee-coloured pleated skirt. Middleton Maven suggests this piece by Zara. I cannot find out much detail about the skirt, but an article on marie-clare.es calls it the Midi Skirt with Matching Belt and gives an RRP of €39.95, which is around £35 or $49 US. Susan from WhatKateWore.com notes that the hem on the Zara skirt looks different to the one Kate wears. This could be because Kate has had the piece hemmed, or it may not be the same skirt.
The Duchess carried a new handbag. It’s the Nano Montreal style in deep toffee smooth by DeMellier London. The micro-bag features a removable crossbody strap, which Kate did not use, a tubular top handle and gold hardware. It’s made from leather and lined with back cotton. RRP £295 (around $412 US). DeMellier are taking pre-orders for dispatch in June if you’re interested in the bag.
The Duchess brought back her brown court shoes by Ralph Lauren. They’re the Celia style ($675 US). The pumps feature a 4″ heel, a sharp pointed toe and a padded, branded leather insole. They’re made in Italy. The Celia appears to be a staple style for Ralph Lauren, who currently carry the shoe in 11 different colour and fabric options.
Finally, Kate added a little sparkle to her outfit with a pair of white gold and diamond earrings by Mappin & Webb. They’re the Empress style. Pictured below on another occasion. Kate has worn the earrings frequently over the last few years. Learn more about them on this page.