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The official portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has received a wide range of criticism from art critics and amateurs alike, who suggest the painting is “awkward” and resembles a “wax figure” from Madame Tussaud’s.
The joint portrait was unveiled on Thursday during the royal couple’s visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Painted by award-winning portrait artist Jamie Coreth, the picture was commissioned in 2021 by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund as a gift to the county of Cambridgeshire.
In the full-length portrait, Prince William and Kate Middleton are captured side-by-side with their arms around one another and looking off to the right, while keeping relaxed expressions on their faces.
Prince William is dressed in a classic black suit with a blue tie, while Kate is wearing an emerald midi-dress by The Vampire’s Wife, Manola Blahnik shoes, a pair of pearl drop earrings, and pearl brooch borrowed from the Queen.
According to Coreth, the artist wanted to “show their Royal Highnesses in a manner where they appeared both relaxed and approachable, as well as elegant and dignified.” However, it seems to critics that the painting may have fallen flat in representing the couple as relaxed, modern royals.
The Independent columnist Jessie Thompson writes: “The future king and queen look camera-ready, but also like they’re standing at a party, waiting for the champers tray to come round.”
“There are two people in the picture, but attention has gravitated towards the Duchess. It always does. She is relentlessly looked at. But here I see a woman who has become accustomed to that,” she said.
While Thompson praised the portrait for its “cheeky” sense of humour, other critics such as Alastair Sooke from The Telegraph dismissed it as “too safe,” while AN Wilson for the Daily Mail wrote that the joint painting reduced Kate “to the status of a dummy; a beautiful woman to a strangely boring doll”.
And they were not alone in their criticisms; many members of the public agreed.
“This painting does not evoke a ‘couple in power’ but rather, a ‘man in power with his submissive wife at his side,’” said one Twitter user. “No connection between them. They are supposedly looking at the same point, but their expressions do not match. I appreciate that K is not with his hysterical smile.”
“Something is lacking in that photo,” wrote someone else. No feelings of strength or power is being emitted from the couple who are the FF heirs to the throne. It’s weak!”
A third person said: “Looks like a Wax Figure from Madame Tussaud”.
This painting does not evoke a "couple in power" but rather, a "man in power with his submissive wife at his side" No connection between them. They are supposedly looking at the same point, but their expressions do not match. I appreciate that K is not with his hysterical smile.
— LeoSB (@LeylaSB2) June 23, 2022
Something is lacking in that photo. No feelings of strength or power is being emitted from the couple who are the FF heirs to the throne. It`s weak !
— badmom - A Brazen Hussy (@badmom46773791) June 24, 2022
Looks like a Wax Figure from Madame Tussaud
— maria wolfe (@marciat42277193) June 24, 2022
And of course, it wouldn’t be a royal portrait if there weren’t some criticisms of Prince William’s lack of hair. Portrait artist Nicky Philipps, who painted Prince William with his brother Prince Harry back in 2008, recently said she was “savaged” for giving the royal heir too much hair.
“I don’t hate it. Definitely would have been better with them looking forward. The artist took some liberties with that embrace between the two and William’s hair,” one person tweeted.
I don’t hate it. Definitely would have been better with them looking forward. The artist took some liberties with that embrace between the two and William’s hair.
— Mina London (@Mina_Esq) June 23, 2022
Others couldn’t help but analyse the body language between Prince William and Kate, calling them “distant” and “stiff”.
“Don’t think it is the best picture of them. Kate looks distant. The body language between them is not good,” a critic said.
“Bits of this are good, but overall it’s stiff and lacks the very thing that makes a piece truly wonderful,” said someone else.“Nothing about this says ‘relaxed and approachable’. Elegant? Maybe…Dignified? Possibly…This looks like two people who barely spend anytime time together and don’t know where to even look,” a third critic tweeted.
Don’t think it is the best picture of them. Kate looks distant. The body language between them is not good.
— Marci Kagan (@MarciKagan) June 23, 2022
Bits of this are good, but overall it’s stiff and lacks the very thing that makes a piece truly wonderful.
— SOMETHING and NOTHING (@hcqykhc6gp) June 23, 2022
Nothing about this says “relaxed and approachable”. Elegant? maybe …. Dignified? Possibly… This looks like 2 people who barely spend anytime time together and don’t know where to even look 👀
— TheFuture ☮️ (@OnlyFac39514488) June 23, 2022
The joint portrait – which will be on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum for the public to view — marks the first time the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are depicted together. The painting will also be loaned to the National Portrait Gallery for a short time in 2023 to mark the gallery’s reopening.
The news comes amidst reports that Prince William and Kate Middleton will have a joint birthday party to mark the pair turning 40 this year. The duke, who celebrated his birthday on 21 June, will be holding off on any parties until the end of the summer. Meanwhile, Kate celebrated her 40th birthday back in January with the release of three solo portraits.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Prince William and Kate Middleton are planning to move their three children – eight-year-old Prince George, seven-year-old Princess Charlotte, and four-year-old Prince Louis – from London to Berkshire.
According to The Sunday Times, the royal family will move their primary residence to the Queen’s Windsor estate, while still maintaining their London home at Kensington Palace.