New portrait of Kate Middleton draws strong reactions online

Kate did not sit for the portrait, which was commissioned by Tatler magazine.

May 22, 2024, 3:44 PM

A new portrait of Kate, the Princess of Wales, is drawing mixed reactions online, just one week after a portrait of her father-in-law, King Charles III, faced a similar response.

The portrait of Kate Middleton, the wife of Charles' eldest son, Prince William, was commissioned by Tatler magazine as part of a series of portraits of members of Britain's royal family. The portrait was unveiled Wednesday as the magazine's cover.

The magazine said the portrait was inspired by Kate's appearance in November 2022 at the first state banquet of Charles' reign, to which she wore a Jenny Packham gown, a bracelet belonging to the late Queen Elizabeth II, and drop earrings that belonged to the late Princess Diana.

Kate did not sit for the portrait of herself. Instead, the artist behind it, Hannah Uzor, a British-Zambian artist, sifted through over 189,000 photos of Kate to "capture her likeness," according to Tatler.

The Princess of Wales is shown on the cover of Tatler Magazine.

Describing her artistic process, Uzor said she tried to capture the "soul" of Kate in the painting.

"It's really important to capture the soul of the person, so I spent a lot of time looking at her and looking at her pictures, watching videos of her, seeing her with her family, seeing her in diplomatic visits, seeing her rowing or visiting children in a hospice," Uzor said in a video shared by Tatler on Instagram. "It has been really interesting for me to get a sense of who she is."

Uzor said she went through multiple sketches to correctly capture Kate's expression and chose to paint her in the Jenny Packham gown because it was "physically striking."

"[It] made her look very regal and very confident," she said.

In this Nov. 22, 2022, file photo, Catherine, Princess of Wales is shown during a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in London.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images, FILE

Uzor's work, though, received mixed reactions online, with many commenters arguing the portrait does not look like Kate, who has been out of the public eye since January, when she underwent surgery and later learned she had cancer.

"The painting is beautiful but does not look like the princess," wrote one commenter on Instagram.

"I don’t understand this painting. I don’t see a resemblance to the princess in any way," wrote another.

Other commenters compared the portrait to the one of Charles released last week, with one commenter writing, "Coming after the King Charles portrait debacle/ you’d think they’d make sure it was perfect."

The portrait of Charles, which stands over 6 feet tall, features a striking red background and shows Charles wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975, according to Buckingham Palace.

Unlike the portrait of Kate, the portrait of Charles, commissioned to hang in London's Draper's Hall, was painted among four sittings with the king over the course of two years, according to the palace.

But in a similar manner, the portrait of Charles drew mixed reactions online quickly after its unveiling, at which both Charles and the artist, Jonathan Yeo, were present.

Artist Jonathan Yeo, left, and Britain's King Charles III at the unveiling of artist Yeo's portrait of the King, in the blue drawing room at Buckingham Palace, in London, May 14, 2024.
Aaron Chown/AP

"I think this is beautiful and such a break from the traditional portraits," one commenter wrote on the palace's Instagram post about the portrait.

"I'm sorry but his portrait looks like he's in hell," wrote another commenter.

"I would have loved this if it was any other color than red," another commenter wrote. "He really captured the essence of him in the face, but the harshness of the red doesn't match the softness of his expression."

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