Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been secretly working on a project commemorating the lives of Holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives in Great Britain after the war—and two photos she took for it were released on Sunday night.
The pictures—part of an exhibition of 75 images of survivors and their families—were revealed on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where a million Jews were put to death during World War II.
The project was unveiled after Kate’s father-in-law Prince Charles returned from a three-day visit to Jerusalem for international ceremonies memorializing the end of the war, and one day before his wife, Camilla, will represent Britain at the central event at the Auschwitz camp in Poland.
The initiative is a joint collaboration between the Jewish News, the Royal Photographic Society, and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Kate told the Jewish News that Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank, the British survivors she photographed with their grandchildren in a two-hour session at Kensington Palace, are among the most “life-affirming people I’ve ever met.”
Four portraits were released today in London, the two taken by the duchess and two others taken by the British photographers Jillian Edelstein and Frederic Aranda.
Frank, 84, survived numerous concentration camps as a child, and lost his father at Auschwitz. He was photographed with granddaughters Maggie Fleet 15, and Trixie Fleet, 13.
Kate said she was inspired by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer in taking a photograph with personal items, including a pan which Frank’s mother managed to keep throughout the war.
German-born Bernstein, 83, who survived the Holocaust as a hidden child in France, was photographed alongside her 11-year-old granddaughter, Chloe Wright.
Aranda photographed Joan Salter, 79, who fled the Nazis as a young child, with her husband Martin and daughter Shelley.
Edelstein photographed John Hajdu, 82, who survived the ghetto of Budapest. He was photographed with his grandson Zac, aged 4.
The rest of the 75 photos will be taken by Royal Society fellows over the coming months, ahead of the planned exhibition later this year.