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Kate, 38, has revealed she felt a “roller coaster” of emotions during the nationwide lockdown as the Duchess of Cambridge gave a glimpse into royal life at a virtual event. Kate expressed her feelings as she embarked on the unenvious task of judging thousands of extraordinary pictures taken during those unprecedented times as part of her digital exhibition.
The mother-of-three said she was “overwhelmed” by the huge response to her photographic project after more than 31,000 stunning images were sent in by the British public.
In May, Kate who is herself a keen photographer, invited people of ages across the UK to submit a photo which they had taken during lockdown, and in the six weeks the project was open a total of 31,598 images were submitted.
The Hold Still photography project launched with the National Portrait Gallery aimed to capture and document “the spirit, the mood, the hopes, the fears and the feelings of the nation”.
Speaking via a video link, Kate said: “I’ve been so overwhelmed by the public’s response to Hold Still.
“The quality of the images has been extraordinary, and the poignancy and the stories behind the images have been equally as moving as well.”
The wife of Prince William was joined on the judging panel by England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May, director of the National Portrait Gallery Nicholas Cullinan, writer and poet Lemn Sissay and photographer Maryam Wahid.
Commenting on the photos, Ms May said: “I loved going through this, partly because it gives me a bit of a break from Covid-19 work that we’ve been doing in the NHS, where our NHS and our frontline staff have done an amazing job.”
She added: “I found it hard as well as hysterically funny at times. When I was going through them I had a good old giggle as well.”
“I suppose that’s what everyone has experienced, a reflection of what everyone’s been through at this time.”
In her attempt to narrow the tens of thousands of entries down to just 100, Kate described how every picture showcased a different experience felt during the health crisis.
The Duchess, who spent the summer self-isolating with her family in Norfolk,
said the images showcased “how different and diverse everyone’s experience of COVID-19 has been”.
She added: “No one story is the same, everyone’s is unique.
“It’s been great, it’s going to be so difficult to edit this down.”
To illustrate the diverse emotions and experiences, the panel was reminded of how much life was affected during lockdown, after several religious festivals including Easter, Ramadan and Vaisakhi were impacted by the virus.
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The digital exhibition will launch on September 14, with a focus on three themes – helpers and heroes, your new normal and acts of kindness.
A selection of the photographs will also be shown in towns and cities across the UK later in the year.
Mr Cullinan said: “We hope that through this project we really will capture a portrait of our nation, reflecting our collective and individual experiences during these unprecedented times.”
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