Princess Kate’s ‘ghastly’ Paul Emsley portrait was shuffled off to storage

Even though the Princess of Wales has been part of the Firm for over twelve years, there really aren’t that many portraits of her. Sure, there were those photos she arranged for her 40th birthday. There was also a painting of Kate and William completely last year, I think? But beyond that, the only major solo portrait done of Kate was in 2013, and it was so bad that even pro-Waity people hated it. The painting was done by Paul Emsley and Emsley took one look at that wiglet and decided to paint Kate as a Victorian ghost, haunting all of Britain. Well, it took ten years, but Kate finally got that portrait shuffled away and out of sight. Per Eden Confidential:

When the first official royal portrait of the Princess of Wales was unveiled to the public a decade ago, Catherine was typically polite, describing Paul Emsley’s efforts as ‘brilliant, absolutely amazing’. The critics were less kind, however, condemning it as ‘ghastly…rotten… an out-and-out disaster’ in one case. Another remarked, acidly: ‘It’s only saving grace is that it’s not by Rolf Harris.’

Now, I can disclose that the work has been consigned to a store room at the National Portrait Gallery, even though it’s the London institution’s only solo painting of our future queen. It can be viewed ‘by prior appointment in our archive’.

Catherine is Royal Patron of the gallery in Trafalgar Square and rumours swirl that she may be secretly pleased the work is no longer on public view.

‘It’s unthinkable that the painting of Her Royal Highness would be removed from public view without consulting her,’ a source tells me. ‘That would be very discourteous. She is our greatly valued patron.’

The oil painting was given a prominent spot from its unveiling in 2013 until 2018. It was then lent for a touring exhibition around the world until the gallery closed for £35million of refurbishment work in 2020.

When the gallery was reopened last month by the Princess amid great fanfare, only two works featuring her image were left on display: a painting, by Jamie Coreth, of her side by side with her husband, Prince William, and a photograph by Paolo Roversi, an Italian fashion snapper, taken to mark her 40th birthday in 2022.

Emsley’s ‘dead-eyed’ painting, which sparked global controversy for making the Princess look older than her years, was not the only prominent royal portrait to disappear when the gallery reopened. Nicky Philipps’s 2010 painting of Princes William and Harry in their Household Cavalry mess uniform was removed from public display.

[From The Daily Mail]

I honestly haven’t looked at the painting in years, but I do remember the controversy at the time. The painting was never popular – people who had neutral or negative feelings about Kate found the painting creepy, and people who loved Kate thought the painting made her look old and pre-cosmetic surgery. I find it more interesting to think that perhaps Kate didn’t even have anything to do with the portrait being shuffled away. What if this is a larger message that, um, Kate is about to shuffled off somewhere too? There’s something in the air. I still say it’s notable that there are so few official portraits of Kate as well, especially now that she’s Princess of Wales.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.