"The portraits are getting weirder and weirder": A new painting of Kate Middleton is getting slammed

Following the furor over King Charles III’s blood-red portrait, the Princess Kate painting has been deemed crude

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published May 23, 2024 4:24PM (EDT)

Catherine, Princess of Wales during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on November 22, 2022 in London, England. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Catherine, Princess of Wales during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on November 22, 2022 in London, England. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

A new portrait of Kate Middleton has stoked considerable commotion on the internet for what many have said is an inaccurate depiction of the royal, a mere week after a painting of her father-in-law, King Charles III, also generated mixed reactions.

The painting was revealed by British fashion magazine Tatler as the cover image of the publication's July issue. British-Zambian artist Hannah Uzor was commissioned for the portrait and was inspired by a photo of the Princess of Wales wearing a long white gown at King Charles III's first state banquet after ascending the throne in November 2022. Middleton's hands are gently clasped in front of her, and she is shown wearing a pin that belonged to the late Queen Elizabeth II as well as the Queen Mary’s Lover's Knot Tiara, which was often worn by Prince William's late mother, Princess Diana. 

A statement provided to CNN by Tatler said that the painting serves to represent Middleton's “strength and dignity." In March, Middleton announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer, quelling monthslong rumors and speculation regarding her disappearance from the public eye following a planned major abdominal surgery. Uzor in the statement shared that Middleton's diagnosis had been factored into her vision for the cover image, saying, “All my portraits are made up of layers of a personality, constructed from everything I can find about them." In Tatler's Instagram post of Uzor's work, the artist is quoted as having said that Middleton "has really risen up to her role. She was born for this. She carries herself with such dignity, elegance and grace."

Uzor also noted that she analyzed a litany of photographs of the Princess of Wales to curate the painting. “When you can’t meet the sitter in person, you have to look at everything you can find and piece together the subtle human moments revealed in different photographs," she said. "Do they have a particular way of standing or holding their head or hands? Do they have a recurrent gesture?"

However, despite Uzor's ostensibly well-intended approach to the portrait, many have criticized her portrayal of the princess. "Unfortunately the artist has not ‘captured’ the beauty of the Princess of Wales. It really doesn’t look like her at all," reads one comment under Tatler's Instagram post.

"Who is making decisions on these commissions?" another commenter asked. "The portraits are getting weirder and weirder. This is quite amateurish, does not resemble HRH. Considering what she’s going through, I guess this will give her a good chuckle."

In another post shared by the magazine highlighting a recent royal tryptic of King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II and now, Kate Middleton, one Instagram user sharply condemned the work, calling it "laughably appalling."

"What an insult to Kate," the user added. "Tatler, you should be ashamed putting this on the cover. A child would have done a better job. I’m so angry you've done this whilst she is so ill. Shame on you."

The intense and steadily ballooning reactions surrounding Uzor's depiction of Middleton may have been owing to the recent unveiling of Jonathan Yeo's portrait of King Charles III. The British artist, who previously painted official portraits for Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sir David Attenborough, completed the king's first portrait since his coronation at Buckingham Palace. The image is striking, largely for its strongly pronounced coloring — Charles is seen wearing a red Welsh Guards uniform, while a butterfly wavers just above his shoulder, which Yeo said symbolizes how “the subject’s role in our public life has transformed.” The entire background is bathed in scarlet, which quickly drew comparisons to hellfire and "Satanic servitude,"  and "rhubarb pie filling," amongst others. "Does it reference the colonial bloodshed produced by British imperialism?" one commenter asked under the Royal Family's Instagram post showcasing the portrait.

"I am unsure which is the worst portrait; at least Charles's finger looks like his," wrote one user on X/Twitter. "What are they trying to accomplish with Kate Middleton; is this what she will look like when she returns or if she ever returns?"

"I do my best to capture the life experiences and humanity etched into any individual sitter’s face, and I hope that is what I have achieved in this portrait," Yeo is quoted as having said in the British monarchy's Instagram post. "To try and capture that for His Majesty The King, who occupies such a unique role, was both a tremendous professional challenge, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed and am immensely grateful for.” 



By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Aggregate Cancer Kate Middleton King Charles Iii Portraits Prince William Royals Tatler