The thing is, there has genuinely been a lack of portraiture around the Duchess of Cambridge. She (arguably) will be the Princess of Wales and Queen Consort, and I’ve always wondered why Kate doesn’t organize real, formal portraits done for her birthday. Maybe she was just waiting for her big 4-0. Kensington Palace released these three portraits, all of them by photographer Paolo Roversi, last night in advance of Kate’s birthday today. They will be installed in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery (of which Kate is patron), but before that, they will be part of a traveling exhibition called Coming Home. They will be exhibited in Berkshire, St. Andrews and Anglesey. Hm, why not Norfolk??
The portraits were taken at the Royal Botanic Gardens last November (when she disappeared for several weeks). Roversi, an Italian fashion photographer, came in from Paris to do these (why not a British photographer?). In the color photo, Kate wore a new, custom Alexander McQueen gown. In the daguerreotype-esque black-and-white side portrait, Kate wore diamond-and-pearl drop earrings which belonged to Princess Diana.
As always, Kensington Palace can’t stick with one narrative for Kate, and it’s especially notable for her 40th birthday. Literally all of the press around Kate – every British outlet ran huge editorials on and before her birthday – is that Kate is a normal person, she’s shy and withdrawn, she’s unglamorous on purpose, and most importantly, she’s not attention-seeking in the slightest. And yet she masterminded a wall-to-wall “I’m better than Meghan” PR campaign for her birthday, AND sought attention with three portraits taken by an Italian fashion photographer.
As for the quality of the photos… while the daguerreotype photo is crazy for a Millennial woman in the year of our lord Beyonce 2022, I find it the most striking in a “her ghost still haunts Houghton Hall” sort of way. The close-up is very 1980s mall-glamour shot, or better yet, it looks like a soap opera actress’s headshot in 1985. The color photo is also striking… striking because she’s weirdly unrecognizable. The airbrushing elves worked overtime on that.
PS… Please don’t threadjack, yes, I have seen all of the birthday keenery. We will have extensive coverage in the coming days.
Photos courtesy of Paolo Roversi for Kensington Palace.
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