Cover Photo: Jamie Coreth/ Fine art commissions

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid a visit to Cambridge to view the oil painting in person

The first official joint portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was unveiled at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England on Thursday (June 23). 

The portrait depicts the couple standing side by side with their arms around each other while gazing into the distance. In the 210-centimetre by 110-centimetre oil painting, Prince William dons a dark suit with a blue tie while Kate wears a stunning emerald green dress by British brand The Vampire's Wife, which the Duchess previously wore on a visit to Dublin in 2020. 

Kate's diplomatic style of dressing, a style which she has developed throughout her married life, made her choice of the green gown fitting to be recorded for posterity.

The portrait was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund as a gift for the county in 2021, the year the couple marked 10 years of marriage and of their Cambridge titles. The Duke and Duchess’s first joint portrait is significant for the second-in-line to the British throne, after his father Charles, as it is the first official painting of him with his spouse. Their image of a modern royal team comprises the elements of regality and modernism, which they will carry with them when they eventually become King and Queen.

Director of the Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum, Luke Syson said: “It's incredibly exciting to be the first to be able to show the only double portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge so far to have been painted, and commemorating of course their connection with Cambridge through their titles.”

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Jamie Coreth was the painter behind the brush, said to be chosen by the Cambridges. Kate is thought to have previously seen his work at the National Portrait Gallery, where he won the Young Artist Award at the prestigious BP Portrait Exhibition. Coreth described painting the portrait as “the most extraordinary privilege of my life” in the museum’s statement.

“I wanted to show Their Royal Highnesses in a manner where they appeared both relaxed and approachable, as well as elegant and dignified”. 

The portrait is significant in its composition as it follows the established line of traditional royal portraiture, used historically to portray its subjects with an aura of royal power and longevity.

The City of Cambridge is also represented in the background of the painting, with “the tones and colours of many of the historical stone buildings that are synonymous with the city”.

Prior to the revelation of the portrait, Coreth was invited to Kensington Palace for multiple sittings in order to capture the essence of the Duke and Duchess. Kate also chose jewellery honouring the royal family to be featured in the portrait. In the portrait, she is seen wearing the Queen’s Duchess of Cambridge pearl pendant brooch for the first time, adding an elegant tinge of white to her outfit. 

The brooch was first worn by Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kessel, who became Duchess of Cambridge when she married Prince Adolphus in 1818. The pair of pearl drop earring Kate wears in the portrait is also a nod to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. 

Made by the London-based jeweller Garrard in the nineteenth century, it features a pearl surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, joined by more diamonds dangling on a detachable silver chain and ending with another pearl. 

The Duke and Duchess were all smiles when they made their way to the Fitzwilliam Museum to view the finished work. Upon viewing the portrait in person, Prince William is reported to have offered his word of congratulations to Coreth, noting that the portrait looks “amazing”.

The future King's role will ultimately become more prominent as the portrait stays hung, suggesting that he and his wife will play an even greater role in the royal family. 

While the portrait remains in the museum, the institution plans to use it to encourage children and young people from the county to take an interest in art.

The portrait will hang at the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum for at least three years before taking a tour of community spaces and galleries in Cambridge. Finally, the portrait will be loaned to the Duchess’ patronage, the National Portrait Gallery in 2023 to mark the gallery’s reopening.

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