Duke and Duchess of Cambridge see their first official joint portrait unveiled at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge
A portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - an idea first proposed by Sir Michael Marshall - was unveiled to the public for the first time today as the royal couple visited the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Painted by award-winning British portrait artist Jamie Coreth, it is the first official joint portrait of the two together and marks the 10th anniversary of the couple receiving their royal titles.
The piece was commissioned in 2021 by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund, which is held by the Cambridge Community Foundation, as a gift to Cambridgeshire.
Viewing it, the duke's first comment was that it was “quite big”.
And he told the artist it was “amazing”.
The royal couple demonstrated their approval and met with supporters of the project, including the artist, at the University of Cambridge museum.
The artist worked to incorporate Cambridge into the work by painting the background with the tones and colours of many of the city’s historical stone buildings. The portrait also employs the hexagonal architectural motif that can be seen on buildings across Cambridge.
The artist said: “It has been the most extraordinary privilege of my life to be chosen to paint this picture. I wanted to show Their Royal Highnesses in a manner where they appeared both relaxed and approachable, as well as elegant and dignified.
“As it is the first portrait to depict them together, and specifically during their time as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I wanted the image to evoke a feeling of balance between their public and private lives. The piece was commissioned as a gift for the people of Cambridgeshire, and I hope they will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed creating it.”
The duke and duchess both studied history of art at St Andrew’s University, though William later switched to geography.
In a piece for Big Issue this week to mark his 40th birthday, Prince William said: “I studied a bit of art history at university. Had to give it up. I kept falling asleep in the lectures. Terrible.”
The duke and duchess were met on their arrival at the museum by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire Julie Spence and also spent time talking to the museum’s director Luke Syson and others associated with the museum.
They also met Lady Sibyl Marshall - the wife of the late Sir Michael Marshall, who originally proposed the idea to create the portrait.
Outside they met schoolchildren from Soham Village College and the Shade Primary School before being whisked away to their next engagement.
Members of the public will be able to view the portrait at the Fitzwilliam Museum for an initial period of three years, after which the artwork will be exhibited in other community spaces and galleries around Cambridgeshire.
While it is in Cambridge, the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund plans to work with the Fitzwilliam to ensure the portrait helps to encourage children and young people of all backgrounds from across the county to take an interest in art in all its forms, building on the museum’s reputation for its inclusion programme and work with early years providers, schools and community outreach programmes.
The portrait will also be loaned to the National Portrait Gallery for a short time in 2023 to mark the gallery’s reopening.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting the area for Cambridgeshire County Day, a celebration of the county that is being held in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which will also raise money for worthy causes.
They went on to visit East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each) at Milton, and visited Jimmy’s in Cambridge to learn about its work with the homeless, before joining about 6,000 people at Newmarket Racecourse later as part of the County Day celebrations.
More to follow on County Day. Additional reporting: Adrian Peel