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'Is this a joke': Why UK's royal fans are infuriated with Kate Middleton's new portrait?

The painting of Kate Middleton was drawn by British-Zambian artist Hannah Uzor and will appear in the July edition of the Tatler magazine. Uzor said she researched several pictures of the princess to honour her "courage and dignity" amid her cancer battle, but the painting drew intense backlash.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee London Published on: May 24, 2024 13:34 IST
Kate Middleton
Image Source : AP Princess of Wales Kate Middleton, who is currently battling cancer.

London: A new portrait of Princess of Wales Kate Middleton, who has currently taken a break from public duties due to a cancer diagnosis, on the cover of Tatler has taken the internet by storm and sparked an intense backlash from the admirers of the British royal family and others. The painting was drawn by British-Zambian artist Hannah Uzor to honour her "courage and dignity" amid her cancer battle.

The painting of Kate featured on the Tatler magazine, represented her presence at the first state banquet of the King's reign during his 2022 state visit to South Africa, according to The Mirror. Kate is see standing and facing forward in a regal, caped white Jenny Packham floor-length evening dress with her go-to tiara, the Lover's Knot, a favourite of Prince William's late mother Princess Diana.

Uzor researched photos of her to inform her work, saying she had found more than 189,000 images of Kate in a picture archive. Kate's portrait is set against a green-blue background, which the artist noted as a nod to Kate's eye colour and the experience of being in a garden and on water. When asked whether the Princess' recent cancer diagnosis gave her a new perspective, Uzor said, "Without a doubt. All my portraits are made up of layers of a personality, constructed from everything I can find about them."

The picture has been titled 'The Princess of Wales - A Portrait of Strength and Dignity' by Hannah Uzor and will appear on the July cover of the Tatler magazine. The British-Zambian artist expressed her admiration for the princess, saying, "She has really risen up to her role – she was born for this. She carries herself with such dignity, elegance and grace."

"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 on diplomatic visits, seeing her when she's rowing or visiting children in a hospice. It has been really interesting for me to get a sense of who she is," Uzor further said.

Why the backlash on Kate's portrait?

The portrait immediately took social media by a storm and sparked an intense backlash. Why? Because according to netizens, the portrait looked nothing like Kate Middleton. Several UK royal fans responded to the post of the magazine cover by Tatler, questioning the likeness to Kate. "Doesn’t look like Catherine at all. Of she wasn’t wearing that dress I’d have no clue as to who it’s meant to be," said one social media user on X. Another wrote," Is this a joke? If it's, not funny".

"This looks nothing like the Princess of Wales. It's so awful, it's disrespectful.  Why did you choose an anti-monarchist to paint the Princess of Wales," said another individual. A netizen wrote, "Put different clothes on her, and no one would know that is supposed to be Catherine. It doesn't look like her at all, not one little bit." 

"Sorry, as much as I love that you have the Princess of Wales on the cover, that looks nothing like her," wrote another person on X. The Telegraph's chief art critic Alastair Sooke called the depiction "egregiously, intolerably, jaw-hits-the-floor bad", asking: "Has there been a flatter, more lifeless royal portrait in living memory?" 

However, there were some who did like the image. One X user praised Uzor's style, saying: "Love the artist… she's very stylish." Another said, "Am I the only person who likes this? It's art, not a photo."

Kate's cancer diagnosis

Kate is undergoing preventative chemotherapy after cancer was found following abdominal surgery she underwent at the start of the year. She announced on March 22 that she was undergoing treatment for an unspecified type of cancer. The couple's office has said they would not be providing regular updates on her health and she is not due to return to public duties until her doctors say she is well enough to do so. The news came after King Charles III, her father-in-law, announced his own cancer diagnosis. 

Both King Charles and Kate have been largely absent from the public stage since January due to health problems, leaving Queen Camilla, Princess Anne and other members of the royal family to pick up the slack on the whirl of events and awards ceremonies that dominate the work of Britain's monarchy. There had been massive speculation over Kate's health after a photograph uploaded by the Palace was found to be "heavily edited" and retracted from international news agencies, for which Kate had to apologise.

However, Prince William recently said that the princess was "doing well", offering a rare comment after the March announcement shocked British citizens. King Charles has also returned to public duties, with his doctors saying that they were “very encouraged” by the king's progress, but his schedule would be adjusted as needed to protect his recovery.

ALSO READ | 'She's doing well': UK's Prince William shares rare update on Kate Middleton's health after cancer diagnosis

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