The Duchess of Cambridge launched a royal treasure hunt today as she left copies of her photography book hidden around the UK with a letter tucked inside.
Kate Middleton, 39, a keen photographer, started a campaign during the first lockdown last year to ask the public to submit images which captured the period.
Her new book Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020, features 100 final ‘poignant and personal’ portraits selected from 31,000 entrants.
The mother-of-three cut an elegant figure in a vibrant red coat from Eponine as she visited the National Portrait Gallery today as the book was released.
Earlier this morning, the Duchess revealed the judges of the Hold Still competition, as well as the participants, had left ‘copies at places that gave us hope during lockdowns’ in collaboration with the Book Fairies organisation.
Kate shared a video as she placed the book, which has shot to the top of the bestseller list, next to a fountain outside Kensington Palace, writing: ‘Let the search begin! We’ve joined @the_bookfairies for the day to share copies of Hold Still around the UK with you.
‘Each copy is adorned with a gold book fairy sticker, gold ribbon, and has a letter from The Duchess tucked inside. #HSbookfairies.’
The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, launched a royal treasure hunt today as she left copies of her photography book hidden around the UK with a letter tucked inside
Let the search begin! The Duke and Duchess shared a video of Kate placing a copy of the book outside her home of Kensington Palace
Kate (pictured), a keen amateur photographer, wrote the introduction to the book, which showcases pictures from her Hold Still campaign of 2020
The tweet continued: ‘To make this activity even more special, book fairies, the Hold Still judges and participants of the final 100 images are leaving copies at places that gave them hope during the lockdown.
‘This special book documenting the unique collection of photographs goes on sale today!’
Kate’s book, created in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, is available in UK bookshops and online from today, one year since the project was first launched.
The Book Fairies shared photographs of the Duchess as she placed the book outside Kensington Palace, tweeting: ‘We are delighted that The Duchess of Cambridge has not only harnessed the power of The Book Fairies today but became a book fairy herself to hide copies of Hold Still!’
The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, donned a medical facemask as she visited the National Portrait Gallery earlier today to mark the release of her new book
Kate Middleton could be seen browsing her phone as she made her way to the gallery in central London today
The mother-of-three could be seen adjusting her facemask as she settled into the car journey on the way to the gallery
The Duchess smoothed down her facemask as she travelled to the National Portrait Gallery to launch the book today
In the images, which showed the Duchess walking through the park from behind, Kate opted to wear a vibrant red coat by Eponine for the occasion.
Her long brunette locks were styled into her signature bouncy blow dry style as she placed the book onto the ground.
Another tweet from The Book Fairies, an organisation set up in 2017 which encourages people to share their books, revealed one of the Hold Still books had been wrapped in a green ribbon and hidden outside a hospital.
Other Hold Still participants and judges were quick to reveal snaps as they hid their copies of the book for others to find.
Each of the free copies has been wrapped in a colourful ribbon and bears The Book Fairies sticker on the front (pictured, another person hides their copy in a mystery location)
Copies of the book have been hidden around the country by the Hold Still judges and participants in different locations that ‘gave them hope’ during lockdown (pictured left, a book hidden in Bishop Auckland, and right, on a distinctive bench)
Another tweet from The Book Fairies revealed one of the Hold Still books had been wrapped in a green ribbon and hidden outside a hospital
Excited social media users were quick to share snaps of their photobooks hidden in various locations across the country (left and right)
One person in Bishop Auckland posted an image of the book nestled in a flower bed, while another person shared images of a copy hidden in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile the book immediately shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list.
As well as being number two on the charts overall, the photo book was number one in the Art, Architecture & Photography.
Earlier this week, Kate shared a video which flicked through the pages of the book to their Instagram, with the caption: ‘Coming this Friday #HoldStill2020’.
The fast-paced video shared by the Cambridges on Instagram showed the different pages of the Hold Still book, and some of the 100 portraits that were selected.
Excited royal fans praised the Duchess’s work, as some said she was ‘smashing it’. ‘Wonderful. I love the way this woman goes about her business,’ one said.
Earlier this week she shared a glimpse of her photography book Hold Still (pictured) ahead of its release today
As well as being number two on the charts overall, the photo book was number one in the Art, Architecture & Photography
The new book includes an introduction from Kate, in which she explains why launching Hold Still was so important to her.
She writes: ‘When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced – the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers.
‘But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal.
‘Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing – to capture individuals’ stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic.’
The book showed portraits taken during the pandemic (pictured), and will be released on Friday online and across UK bookstores
The new book includes an introduction from Kate, in which she explains why launching Hold Still was so important to her
She goes on: ‘For me, the power of the images is in the poignant and personal stories that sit behind them. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to some of the photographers and sitters, to hear their stories first-hand – from moments of joy, love and community spirit, to deep sadness, pain, isolation and loss.
‘A common theme of those conversations was how lockdown reminded us about the importance of human connection and the huge value we place on the relationships we have with the people around us.
‘Although we were physically apart, these images remind us that, as families, communities and as a nation, we need each other more than we had ever realised.’
She concludes by thanking everyone who took the time to submit an image, adding: ‘Your stories are the most crucial part of this project.
The announcement comes after the UK marked the one-year anniversary of the first national lockdown earlier this week. Pictured: an image from the new book
‘I hope that the final 100 photographs showcase the experiences and emotions borne during this time in history, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon this unparalleled period.’
Net proceeds raised from the sale of the book will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery.
The funds will help to support arts and mental health projects across the UK, including Mind’s work in local communities and the National Portrait Gallery’s education and community projects.
As well as showcasing the final 100 images and the stories that accompany each of them, the book – which has been put together with support from the Co-op – will look back at highlights from the community exhibition which took the portraits to billboards and outdoor poster sites in 80 towns, cities and areas in October 2020.
Net proceeds raised from the sale of the book (pictured) will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery
Over the course of the project the Duchess shared a number of her favourite images on the Kensington Royal Instagram page, including one of a young girl seen drawing a huge rainbow onto a window pane, which made it into the book (pictured)
Over the course of the project the Duchess shared a number of her favourite images on the Kensington Royal Instagram page, including a Black Lives Matter protester holding a sign reading: ‘Be on the right side of history.’
Another of the snaps was a black and white image showing a man embracing his daughter, while one shows a child kissing their godmother through a window.
Meanwhile others featured a student holding her exam qualifications, and a young girl seen drawing a huge rainbow onto a window pane.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of The National Portrait Gallery said: ‘The public response to Hold Still, which was spearheaded by our Patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been phenomenal.
‘The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown. We are honoured to have been able to share a selection of these photographs with the nation, first through the online and community exhibition and now through this new publication.
‘The proceeds raised from the book will help us to continue to care for and share our national Collection and to provide free access, inspiration and learning, through the work we do at the Gallery and our UK wide community and education projects.
‘Hold Still is an important record of this extraordinary moment in our history – expressed through the faces of the nation – and we hope will remain so for generations to come.’
As well as showcasing the final 100 images and the stories that accompany each of them, the book – which has been put together with support from the Co-op – will look back at highlights from the community exhibition which took the portraits to billboards and outdoor poster sites in 80 towns, cities and areas in October 2020
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, added: ‘The coronavirus pandemic is a mental health emergency as well as a physical one. The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, and any recession that lies ahead means there has never been a more crucial time to prioritise our mental health.
‘This inspiring collection of portraits illustrates the impact of the pandemic in all its complexity, but also how creativity, art and human connection can help us find meaning in unprecedented challenges.
‘Thank you to everyone who submitted a portrait to tell such a moving and deeply human story of the pandemic. And to the National Portrait Gallery and The Duchess of Cambridge for choosing Mind as a joint beneficiary of proceeds from the sales of this book.’