Long before Kate Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of Prince William and one of the most photographed women in the world, she was just another History of Art student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Aside from a few brief details of her relationship with William (and for a wildly inaccurate rendition of said facts, may we politely direct you to William & Katie: The Movie?), little is known about Kate’s student days – and given that she and William graduated in 2005, the royal couple have probably escaped the ignominy of Facebook albums filled with poorly lit photos from bad nights out. Now, in a rare letter released through Kensington Palace to coincide with the National Portrait Gallery’s upcoming photography exhibition, Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography, the Duchess has given us a brief insight into her undergraduate interests.
Kate, who describes herself as ‘an enthusiastic amateur photography’ and regularly takes her children’s official portraits, has written image captions and a foreword for the exhibition’s catalogue, focusing on the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Rejlander and Clementina Hawarden.
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‘This period in the history of photography has long interested me. As a student at the University of St. Andrews, I chose it as the subject of my undergraduate thesis and photographs of children in particular, which feature predominantly within the exhibition, are of real interest to me,’ she wrote. ‘These photographs allow us to reflect on the importance of preserving and appreciating childhood while it lasts.’
‘Children held a special place in the Victorian imagination and were celebrated for their seemingly boundless potential. This notion still rings true for us today and it underpins much of my official work and the charities I have chosen to support, and, indeed, my role as a mother of a young family,’ she added.
Kate, who is a patron of the National Portrait Gallery, is set to visit the exhibition on February 28th, ahead of its opening.