Kate Middleton: New Portrait Controversy, Explained

A new portrait of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has split public opinion. Here, the royal is pictured in November 2023. Credit - Yui Mok—Getty Images

A new portrait of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, was unveiled on Wednesday to a mixed reaction from the public.

The portrait, painted by the British-Zambian artist Hannah Uzor and published on the cover of Tatler magazine’s July issue, depicts the princess wearing a floor-length Jenny Packham white dress with a blue ribbon wrapped around her that she wore to a state banquet in 2022.

Several social media users have taken to X (formerly Twitter) to share their reactions to the portrait, which some said didn’t capture the princess’ likeness accurately.

“Sorry, as much as I love that you have the Princess of Wales on the cover, that looks nothing like her,” said one X user on Wednesday. Another also apologized, writing: “It's a no from me, as much as I admire the time and effort expended, the dress, the background, it is not Princess Catherine’s face.”

However, there were others who were more supportive of the portrait. One viewer simply said: “I like it.

The Princess did not sit for the portrait as she is taking a break from public-facing duties following her major abdominal surgery in January, and since revealing that she had been diagnosed with cancer during a video shared on March 22. Instead, Uzor relied on photographs to create the painting. “It’s really important to capture the soul of the person,” Uzor said in a video interview with Tatler. “It’s been really interesting for me to get a sense of who she is.”

The artist shared that her process for creating the piece started off with a series of sketches focusing on Kate’s expression, after which she chose the royal’s outfit. The white dress was selected because Uzor said it makes her look “regal and confident.”

The portrait comes after the first official portrait of King Charles III was unveiled at Buckingham Palace. That artwork, created by Jonathan Yeo, has also garnered criticism due to its prominent red background and tone. Yeo has stated that their intention was to portray Charles’ transformation as a leader in a contemporary way. His Majesty sat down four times for the portrait.

A separate portrait of Kate, which was originally shared around her 40th birthday in 2022, is part of a new royal exhibition that opened over the weekend at Buckingham Palace.

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