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.
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.”
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.”
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
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.