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Mystery as Kate's first official portrait relegated to storage after a decade

NewsMystery as Kate's first official portrait relegated to storage after a decade

The first official royal portrait of the Princess of Wales, by Scottish-born artist, Paul Emsley, has been removed from public view after being unveiled over a decade ago. It has now been moved out of public view and into storage at the National Portrait Gallery to be viewed “by prior appointment” only.

A royal commentator has speculated on why the work has been consigned to a storeroom when The Princess of Wales’s first comments were “brilliant” and “absolutely amazing” when the portrait was first unveiled in 2012.

Social Diary editor for the Daily Mail, Richard Eden states critics were less kind, however, and attacked the work of art, calling it “ghastly” and “rotten”.

A source told the editor: “It’s unthinkable that the painting of Her Royal Highness would be removed from public view without consulting her. That would be very discourteous.”

Princess Kate is the Royal Patron of the National Portrait Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The gallery was founded in 1856 with the aim to “promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture”.

Its website also states it aims to “promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media”.

Glasgow-born artist, Paul Emsley, painted Her Royal Highness at the beginning of her public life in two sittings. The first at Kensington Palace, and the second at the artist’s studio.

The oil painting was given a prominent spot from 2013 until 2018. It was then lent for a touring exhibition around the world until the gallery closed in 2020 for a £35million refurbishment.

When the gallery reopened last month, after three years of closure, Eden writes Emsley’s “dead-eyed” painting had disappeared.

The Princess of Wales is now featured only in two pieces of art in the gallery – a painting by Jamie Coreth, of her standing with Prince William, and a photograph by Paolo Roversi to mark her 40th birthday in 2022.

A 2010 painting of Prince William and Harry in their Household Cavalry mess uniform was also removed from public display following the refurbishment.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the gallery insists the Princess had no influence over its selection of works on display.

A gallery spokesperson said: “Decisions relating to the portraits on display are made by the curatorial team. With over 250,000 portraits held in our collection, we are only able to display a small percentage within our building. We regularly rotate the portraits on display and loan portraits from the collection to other galleries and organisations.”

The National Portrait Gallery reopened to the public on June 22 and Princess Kate marked attended an opening ceremony a few days before. The royal viewed a new exhibition and met with award-winning artists to welcome the restoration of the Grade I listed building.

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