The Queen shares special message as the final 100 images from Duchess Kate's 'Hold Still' project are revealed

By Heather Cichowski

The final 100 images from Duchess Kate's Hold Still photography project have been unveiled! In honour of the special occasion, the Queen shared a message about the response to the project, which highlights pictures taken during the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 lockdown.

Hold Still 2020 received nearly 32,000 submissions! That staggering number was whittled down to 100 by Kate and her fellow judges, who include National Portrait Gallery Director Nicholas Cullinan, Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, photographer Maryam Wahid and author/broadcaster Lemn Sissay.

The finalists were announced on the Royal Family's various social media channels and on the National Portrait Gallery's website.

"In May this year, in collaboration with the @NationalPortraitGallery, we invited people of all ages, from across the UK to submit a photographic portrait which they had taken during lockdown," Kensington Palace shared on Instagram.

"The images present a unique record of our shared and individual experiences during this extraordinary period of history, conveying humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope."

Her Majesty's special message was posted on social media, too, along with a selection of the chosen portraits.

“It was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to look through a number of portraits that made the final 100 images for the Hold Still photography project," the monarch revealed.

"The Duchess of Cambridge and I were inspired to see how the photographs have captured the resilience of the British people at such a challenging time.

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 Today the final 100 images for the Hold Still digital exhibition have been unveiled #HoldStill2020. The Queen has written a message sending her best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted an image to the project. ⬅️Swipe through the images to read Her Majesty's message. The Duchess of Cambridge shared a selection of the portraits featured in the exhibition with Her Majesty last month, some of which are shown above. #HoldStill2020 has been curated by The Duchess of Cambridge and the @nationalportraitgallery, and features one hundred portraits selected from 31,598 submissions made during the project’s six-week enty period. The images present a unique record of our shared and individual experiences during this extraordinary period of history, conveying humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope. Head over to @kensingtonroyal to find out more!

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) on

“The Duchess of Cambridge and I send our best wishes and congratulations to all those who submitted a portrait to the project.”

The 100 portraits selected as finalists include images of people meeting with and spending time with their family members through window – scenes that have become familiar to many here in Canada and around the world during the pandemic. They also include photos of care workers with the ill and elderly, medical workers dealing with the strain of long hours spent in emergency rooms looking after those who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and images from Black Lives Matter protests across the United Kingdom since late May. A portrait of Captain Tom Moore, the inspiring war veteran who raised approximately $54.4 million for NHS charities, is also featured in the final selection.

Kate had previously shared some of the moving images Hold Still had received from U.K. residents before the submission deadline passed. She launched the project in May in connection with her patronage, the National Portrait Gallery, to encourage people from across the United Kingdom to submit pictures they'd taken during COVID-19.

MORE: The Countess of Wessex contributed to Duchess Kate's 'Hold Still' photography project

Hold Still focused on three core themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness. These themes were explored in a wide range of images by a diverse group of people. Entrants ranged from ages four to 75 years old! The Countess of Wessex even submitted a photo in honour of Volunteers Week.

Say "cheese!" Kate posed with a rag wreath for Luke Wheeler-Waddison during a National Portrait Gallery's Hospital Programme workshop at Evelina Children's Hospital in January. Photo: © Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"We've all been struck by some of the incredible images we've seen, which have given us an insight into the experiences and stories of people across the country," the Duchess of Cambridge said during the launch of Hold Still in May. "Some desperately sad images showing the human tragedy of this pandemic and other uplifting pictures showing people coming together to support those more vulnerable.

"Hold Still aims to capture a portrait of the nation, the spirit of the nation, what everyone is going through at this time. Photographs reflecting resilience, bravery, kindness – all those things that people are experiencing."

The hundred entries selected for Hold Still are showcased in a digital exhibition. It is still their hopeful intention that the exhibition will be shown across the United Kingdom later once the pandemic hopefully ends.

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