Duchess of Cambridge meets photographers behind moving lockdown pictures

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge view Hold Still exhibit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met the photographers and subjects behind the moving images selected for her lockdown project.

Kate, 38, launched the Hold Still competition earlier this year, encouraging people to capture a moment in time as the nation was told to stay at home during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

As an amateur photographer herself, Kate was on the panel with others from the National Portrait Gallery to assess the entries and choose 100 to make up a collection representing different aspects of the pandemic response.

She took husband Prince William, 38, to London on Tuesday 20 October, to see the images displayed on billboards throughout the capital.

They travelled to Waterloo where they met Sami Massalami Mohammed Elmassalami Ayad, a volunteer at a community Food Hub in Hackney, who is featured in one of the pictures.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge set up the Hold Still campaign to capture lockdown. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
William and Kate visited the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on Tuesday. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The images will be displayed in public spaces around the UK. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)

Ayed, who is a PhD student, said: “I didn’t even know it was being submitted by my colleague at the food hub so it came as a massive shock when I got a call from the National Portrait Gallery saying the duchess wanted to speak to me.

“She called me a few weeks ago and we had such a lovely conversation. She told me how she wanted to build a a snapshot of how Britain was coping in the pandemic, but to show all sides of what people have gone through and are still going through.”

Ayed also told the Duke of Cambridge that he had not known the photo was being entered, which William laughed loudly at and said: “Oh, that’s great! You didn’t know at all? Love it. That’s brilliant.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives for the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The duchess wore a face covering in the car but took it off outside. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)
EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY SEPTEMBER 14 MANDATORY CREDIT: Grey Hutton NEWS EDITORIAL SINGLE USE ONLY. NO COMMERICAL USE. NO MERCHANDISING, ADVERTISING, SOUVENIRS, MEMORABILIA OR SIMILAR. CAN ONLY BE USED IN CONNECTION WITH HOLD STILL DIGITAL EXHIBITION. NOT FOR USE AFTER AFTER 31 DECEMBER, 2020 WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION FROM ROYAL COMMUNICATIONS. No charge should be made for the supply, release or publication of the photograph. Undated handout issued by Kensington Palace entitled Sami by Grey Hutton, part of the Hold Still digital exhibition launched by the Duchess of Cambridge in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. Hold Still aims to create a collective portrait of lockdown in the UK, capturing the spirit, mood, hopes, fears and feelings of the nation as the coronavirus outbreak continues.
Sami by Grey Hutton, part of the Hold Still digital exhibition. (Grey Hutton)

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The duke and duchess also went to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in central London, where they met Joyce Duah, a specialist oncology pharmacist at the hospital, whose photograph called All In This Together, was selected in the final 100.

William and Kate met Duah’s colleagues Amelia Chowdhury and Dipal Samuel, who feature in the picture.

Kate told Duah: “Thank you so much for the image. It had such an impact – it captured the moment, it was a look behind the scenes.

“The story of what you experienced is so important.”

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, to mark the launch of the nationwide 'Hold Still' community photography project on October 20, 2020. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The couple donned face coverings to speak to staff at St Bartholomew's in London. (AFP)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet staff members as they visit St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, to mark the launch of the nationwide 'Hold Still' community photography project on October 20, 2020. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The couple spoke to frontline workers about life during the height of the pandemic. (Matt Dunham/AFP)

In the image Chowdhury and Samuel wrote their names, with smiley faces and love hearts, onto their personal protective equipment (PPE).

The three women told the royal couple how strongly they felt about the duchess’s project.

Ms Samuel said: “It will go down in history. When children are doing history or biology, they can have these photographs of Mum doing this.

“There were times when goggles were in short supply. We didn’t have enough visors or goggles, so one day I had swimming goggles. It was so hot there was sweat filling up my swimming goggles.

William replied: “I love the ingenuity and thinking out of the box. Your eyeballs were literally swimming in swimming goggles.”

Watch: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet frontline workers

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speaks to a member of the public through the window of a KFC restaurant before attending the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William speaks to a member of the public through the window of a KFC restaurant. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit the launch of the Hold Still campaign at Waterloo Station on October 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kate wore an Alexander McQueen coat for the trip. (Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet pharmacist Joyce Duah (2R) and pharmacy technicians Amelia Chowdhury (R) and Dipal Samuel (L) as they visit St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, to mark the launch of the nationwide 'Hold Still' community photography project on October 20, 2020. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince William and Kate meet pharmacist Joyce Duah (2R) and pharmacy technicians Amelia Chowdhury (R) and Dipal Samuel (L). (AFP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet pharmacist Joyce Duah at St. Bartholomew's Hospital during an event to mark the launch of the nationwide 'Hold Still' community photography project on October 20, 2020 in London, England. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday met a small number of staff from the hospital, including pharmacist and photographer Joyce Duah and the two pharmacy technician colleagues she photographed writing on their PPE as they put it on, in a photograph that was selected to be in the set of 100 images taken during the coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
They wore face coverings to meet Joyce Duah at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. (Matt Dunham - WPA Pool)

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The project encouraged people to use smartphones or cameras to capture their life during the pandemic, and there were more that 31,000 entries, including one from Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

The images covered three different areas - Helpers And Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts Of Kindness.

Portraits from the projects are featured across 80 towns, cities and areas in the UK, exhibited on outdoor billboard and poster sites for four weeks.

One of them has also been recreated as a hand painted mural. Melanie March 2020, taken by Johannah Churchill, is on display in Manchester city centre.

The final 100 will be featured in an exhibition hosted by the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from Friday 23 October.