As we approach the reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, rumours have been going around about Kate Middleton’s involvement in the choice of pieces that will be on display.
Discover our latest podcast
After going through three years of refurbishment the museum will open to the public on Thursday 22 June.
The building holds ‘over 220,000 works’ including many pieces portraying Royals over the centuries.
While visitors will be excited to enter the building after so long they will also be looking for their favourite paintings of the royals.
However, one piece will be missing. A painting of younger Prince Harry and Prince William.
Prince William and Prince Harry ‘talking and laughing’
The painting by Nicky Phillips was first shown in 2010. In 2022, the painter opened up to the Sunday Times about how the process of painting the portrait.
(The brothers) were looking at each other, talking and laughing. They were both utterly charming, quick-witted, and great fun.
This testimony of the closeness between the two brothers comes to no surprise as, at the time of the painting ,the two had a very strong relationship.
Prince William had gotten married the year before and pictures and videos of Prince Harrylaughing and having a good time with the couple were very frequently seen.
Phillips also says that:
William was very much the protective older brother, straightening Harry’s belt. It was perfect.
However, now the relationship between the two royal brothers is no longer the same. In recent years they have grown apart and been involved in a lot of controversy.
This is why the fact that the painting no longer being displayed holds such significance.
The painter herself points that out when she adds:
Harry was very different back then. I suppose my painting has acquired historic significance.
And gossip has been spreading about Kate Middleton’s involvement in that decision as she is the Patron of the Gallery.
In defense of Kate Middleton
Princess Kate has been patron of the National Portrait Gallery since 2012. The gallery has also acquired many pieces of her throughout the years but Nicky Phillips’ piece definitely holds special significance for the Princess of Wales.
So the question on whether or not she might have been involved in the decision to not have the portrait displayed is relevant.
However, the National Portrait Gallery itself has come to set the record straight.
In a statement with Art News, the Gallery highlights the fact that the painting has not been on display at the London gallery since 2018.
We are only able to display a small percentage within our building. We regularly lend and tour our works, both nationally and internationally. This portrait by Nicky Philipps was included in a touring exhibition—Tudors to Windsors—which travelled between 2018 and 2021.
Since the rumours about Kate’s involvement wouldn’t stop the Gallery insisted with another statement this time specifying that
Decisions relating to the portraits on display at the National Portrait Gallery are made by the gallery’s curatorial team
Town and Country: Why Did the National Portrait Gallery Remove a Double Portrait of Prince William and Prince Harry?
Tatler: The Princess of Wales will herald a new era at National Portrait Gallery reopening
Cosmopolitan: Prince Harry and Prince William’s Painting in the National Portrait Gallery Has Been Removed Amid Their Feud
Artnet News: London’s National Portrait Gallery Responds to Rumors That Kate Middleton Pressured It to Remove a Portrait of Princes William and Harry