LONDON – The first official joint portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has been unveiled – and it sees a highlight of Kate Middleton’s royal wardrobe preserved for posterity. In the painting – the work of the award – winning British portrait artist Jamie Coreth – the Duchess is wearing her emerald Falconetti dress by Susie Cave’s label The Vampire’s Wife, the same one she wore for a trip to the Guinness factory in Dublin back in 2020. It was typical of Kate to champion British design, but the rare sighting of the royal in a fashion crowd favourite delighted style – watchers more accustomed to seeing her opt for the safety of reliable – and resolutely unflashy – brands like Eponine, Catherine Walker or Boden. For the Duchess, this metallic dress (previously seen on the likes of Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung and Ruth Negga), represented a risk.
Also of note of the fashion front: the shoes. Kate wears Manolo Blahnik’s classic Hangisi heels in emerald in the painting. As Carrie Bradshaw’s chosen wedding shoes, the Hangisi had already earned its place in the pop culture hall of fame. Now, the cult stiletto has had the royal seal of approval, and will hang (at least temporarily) in the National Portrait Gallery, too.
The painting will be loaned to the gallery for a period in 2023 to mark its reopening, but until then, its home is in the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, where Kate and William viewed it at the official unveiling on the morning of 23 June. Commissioned by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund, Coreth worked to incorporate Cambridge itself into the painting – the background echoes the shades of the historical stone building that are synonymous with the city.
‘It has been the most extraordinary privilege of my life to be chosen to paint this picture’, said the artist. ‘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 unveiling follows the release of three formal portraits of the Duchess of Cambridge to mark her 40th birthday in January. That time Kate decided against a painting, instead commissioning the Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi to shoot a trio of portraits in Kew Gardens.