Did Princess Kate get the National Portrait Gallery to remove a painting of Harry?

The Princess of Wales has been the patron of the National Portrait Gallery for more than a decade. I think the idea behind the patronage was “Kate majored in art history and she can do very easy events around art.” For what it’s worth, Kate does seem to enjoy the patronage and they’ve set up some of “her” most successful schemes, like the pandemic-era portrait book. Well, now Kate is sort of getting the blame for the gallery removing one of their most beloved paintings: a painting of Prince William and Prince Harry in their Blues and Royals uniforms. The painting was done in 2010, commissioned by the gallery, and Harry and William both agreed to sit for Nicky Philipps back then. Well, the painting has “disappeared” from the walls of the gallery. Probably for good.

When the National Portrait Gallery in London reopens amid much fanfare later this month after a three-year, £35 million refurbishment, the eyes of the art world will be on its new public spaces, including a cocktail bar open late into the evening. There will also be much discussion about which pictures among the quarter of a million owned by the gallery have been chosen to be put on public display. But among the pictures that will remain hidden from view is one of the better regarded royal portraits of recent years.

When it was unveiled in 2010, Nicky Philipps’s portrait of Princes William and Harry was described by one critic as “thoroughly modern”. Sandy Nairne, then director of the gallery, called it “a delightful image which extends the tradition of royal portraiture”. These days, however, the painting might be regarded as a painful reminder of the rift at the heart of the royal family, and one that has particular resonance for the gallery’s patron, the Princess of Wales.

It depicts the Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex in happier times, long before they fell out and Harry left the country to live a new life with his family in California. Both lieutenants in the Household Cavalry at the time, they are shown wearing the full mess uniform of the Blues and Royals. The gallery will not say why the picture has not been included in the hang for the official opening, but both the gallery and Kensington Palace say that the decision was not at the request of the palace.

However, questions are being asked in art circles about why a picture of great contemporary interest, and one which is seen as being of considerably higher quality than many modern royal portraits, is no longer available to be seen by the public.

A gallery spokeswoman said: “Decisions relating to the portraits on display at the National Portrait Gallery are made by the gallery’s curatorial team. With over 250,000 portraits in our collection, we are only able to display a small percentage within our building, however, as one of the world’s largest and most important collections of portraits, we regularly lend and tour our works, both nationally and internationally. This portrait by Nicky Philipps was included in a touring exhibition — Tudors to Windsors — which travelled between 2018 and 2021. The portrait was last displayed at the gallery between March and August 2018.”

[From The Times]

For what it’s worth, I doubt Kate “pulled rank” or whatever – I doubt she demanded that the gallery remove the painting. This reads like some stuffy royalists working for the gallery were like “oh no, we can’t exhibit the painting of the charismatic ginger prince, that will upset our patron and her incandescent husband!” Now, if William was the patron, then maybe yes, I could totally see him barking his demands about removing the painting. I just doubt Kate would. The whole thing is so funny and so sad – like, Harry just lives rent-free in all of their heads.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

72 Responses to “Did Princess Kate get the National Portrait Gallery to remove a painting of Harry?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Southern Fried says:

    I wouldn’t doubt Kate and/Willy wanted it gone. I’ll just say it out loud. Kate and Willy are bitches from hell.

    • theRobinsons says:

      I am glad it was removed… its like the tearing in half of the temple curtain in Jerusalem, by God in the Old Testament – when He basically was saying by that action, that the “Old ways are no more”. As an artist, knowledgeable about classical stylized British, European and early American painting, it is a painting of subjugation. William is in a standing pose and Harry is sitting, this denotes William’s power as firstborn Prince over Harry who serves William. So, whomever had it removed as a slight, the Universe meant it as unshackling the chains that bound him to subordinate servitude to his older brother, Willie and the BRF to have the freedom to be his own man in the world. Godspeed Harry.

      • BeanieBean says:

        I think the power pose in this portrait is just the opposite: Harry is sitting, at ease, while William is leaning against a wall looking as though he’s hoping to be noticed & is grateful to be in the presence of ‘the big man’.

      • Soapboxpudding says:

        I appreciate your perspective on this!

      • Feeshalori says:

        The person in power always sits while the subjugated one remains standing. That’s how I see the poses.

      • Kingston says:

        I KNOW THE REASON………………………LOL:

        As you can see, Prince Harry has more EARNED medals than Bullyam…….3-to-1.

        Thats it and thats all.

        The star-shaped medal on Bullyiam’s pocket area on his left, was one of betty’s medals that she doles out as it pleases her and does not speak to any valor or achievement on the recipient’s part. In this case, its one of the (many!) Royal Victorian Orders (KCVO) that betty doles out from time to time.

        This is UNLIKE Prince Harry’s earned awards and medals that he received during his time in the army, up to and including his final rank of CAPTAIN (which Bully didnt achieve so betty yanked H from the army and prevented him from being referred to as Captain Wales………i:e until he left the royal institution and couldnt be dictated to anymore.)

        So of course, with Bullyam just literally a heartbeat away from the throne, he would definitely wield the little power he has now to demand, thru his aides, that the National Gallery remove the pic.

        The. End.

        PS: The pic shows brotherly love between the 2 but Bullyam wants none of that mess around to remind him that he used to be human.

      • MM says:

        I agree with Beaniebean here – my eye is immediately drawn to Harry, and William is an after sight. I dare say the artist must have felt the same way, as most do during the sitting and immediately gravitated towards Harry.

      • aftershocks says:

        ^^ Oh, exactly @MM! I also appreciate the insights by @TheRobinsons, @BeanieBean, @Feeshalori, and @Kingston! My immediate impression too, is a feeling of being drawn to Harry’s seated image. Even on this painted canvas, Harry comes across as casually relaxed, down-to-earth, and charismatic. Willy is leaning a bit stiffly and uncomfortably against the door jamb. Willy seems hesitant and uncertain (despite being depicted with a large blue sash, a sword, and an honorary medal that looks larger in the frame than Harry’s multiple earned medals).

        Instead of appearing subordinate in his seated position, Harry exudes confidence and camaraderie. Even though Harry’s head is in profile looking toward Willy and away from viewers, we can still sense a mischievous twinkle in ginger Harry’s blue eyes.

        Seemingly, the artist unwittingly foreshadows the future! Notice how the frame of the door in the center of the painting separates Willy from Harry! Also, even sitting, Harry seems to be larger, taller, more relaxed, and freer than Willy. The painting to the left of Harry is only partially in the frame, yet it seems to be edging in with vibrancy. It looks to be a large flower painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. For me, this vibrant, flower painting, only partially in the frame, represents Meghan! Her mother nicknamed her ‘Flower.’ Moreover, Harry & Meghan purposely call their daughter the flower name, ‘Lili.’

        Meanwhile, looking guarded and strangely diminshed, Willy appears trapped in the door frame of a different room, or a different world. It’s the world of the gilded cage, with the old portrait of a royal forebear beckoning distantly against the far wall inside that room.

    • Chloe says:

      Honestly i feel like the tabloids are trying to make this into something it’s not. The painting hasn’t been viewed at the gallery since 2018. And has been gone from public viewing since 2021, after it was displayed on tour. I don’t understand why the tabs bring this upnow but it really doesn’t seem that dramatic

    • Moxylady says:

      The royal family is all about bringing in the tourist dollars right. That’s the lie shoved down everyone’s throat.

      So the most popular portrait at a portrait gallery – that just underwent a massive renovation and is reopening for business – had removed their most popular portrait to somehow appease some random royal.

      How does that help tourism?

      If I were Kate, I would put out a statement saying she and William were planning a tour before the reopening to see the vast improvements- and she was worried that a portrait of him and his brother in happier times might pain him. So she inquired and was told it was not a part of the current display collection.

      They are just so bad at literally everything.

      People may blame Harry because of all the lies of the tabloids for everything that has every happened – but much like with Diana, the love the people had for him/ her does not just transfer to the nearest royal.

      Make no mistake. They are widely disliked if not hated. Or worse – for them – barely thought of with anything other than apathy and resentment.

  2. No this sounds like something Cowmillla has hatched with Chuckles. It’s just icing that Can’t is the patron. Two birds one stone.

    • MsDoe says:

      Exactly. Camilla loves wielding her power, especially from the shadows.
      The last photo is a very rare shot of Kate without a wiglet — so that is what she really looks like!

      • Eve Pane says:

        That painting is gold. I thought they would keep it up for more traffic for the museum.
        Or am I thinking like an ugly American?
        I think Kate miss Harry as the 3rd wheel in the relationship.
        She loves being royalty but I think shd would love to relax and party.
        May be wrong

    • Mary Pester says:

      @susanCollins, spot on there Susan. Charlie is out of the country, camzilla sharpened her aim, spoke to a “friend” and hey presto, one of the best ever portraits on display has gone, so our handsome Harry is no longer there and katey carries the can. Fair play camzilla, but next time don’t use Harry in your revenge plans

    • Anita says:

      Yeah, that has Booze Queen written all over it.

    • WiththeAmericann says:

      Totally Cams. It’s such a beautiful painting, too. Just artistically it is striking.

  3. Lauren42 says:

    LOL at all the hair on William’s head, even back then. Of course someone in the palace asked for this, they are petty and punitive. Probably not Kate, though.

    But hey, maybe they can put up the recent drawing of Kate’s leaf in that portrait’s place, complete with the arrow that says “Future Queen Katherine drew this”… which I know a kid wrote, but I would totally love to believe Kate added herself.

  4. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Whoa. That picture. 13 years and thousands of hair follicles ago.

  5. Nubia says:

    Anyways.. she is the future Queen but she is still a married in commoner right? The way she has treated Meghan But especially Harry a BLOOD Prince is quite something.Ofcourse she probably got her orders from William but she has quite the gall.

    • Alexandria says:

      Especially since H has never been dismissive of her in public nor attacked her through leaks in private. She is dumb. Even if she divorced W, an enduring friendship with HM would be PR gold.

  6. Slush says:

    I tend to agree with Kaiser on this. Kates beef is with Meg, not Harry, it seems.

    Secondly, you’d have to work hard to convince me that she actually has in depth conversations or knowledge about which pieces that are on display at any given time.

    • Popsicle W says:

      I doubt that KP is happy that NPG has blamed Kate for this issue. It makes Kate look petty and mean. I am sure she is not happy and Will is raging. Something tells me this is not the last we will hear about this.

  7. Shelly bean says:

    How awful, even in a painting they need to make sure Harry is crouching down and minimising himself while William gets to stand tall and proud.

    • Chaine says:

      I see it totally differently. Harry is relaxed, confident, and taking up the room space, while William looks tentative and somehow a bit small in the doorway.

      • Lux says:

        Agree @Chaine. It’s a little jarring how small and timid Will looks. I guess a portrait takes off 5 lbs instead of adding 10 like a camera? He looks like one of those figures on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride—to scale but just a hair too small to look normal.

      • Shawna says:

        I think it’s both: the portrait seems on the face of it to put William in charge but gives you enough evidence to suspect the contrary.

      • Moxylady says:

        I feel as though the positioning was very intentional to make William the central figure and Harry smaller and under him.
        But the reality is Harry looks confident, strong and capable. Also isn’t there some rule about sitting around those of higher “rank” than you? Like you don’t do it? So it seems to put him in the position of – i don’t care about his power. This is my brother and I’m sitting.
        And William looks like he’s asking Harry a question and needs his guidance. He’s seeking consultation with his little brother and looks unsure of himself even in a portrait.
        It’s a fascinating work honestly. I wonder what the artist knew and intended.

      • swaz says:

        @Chaine, I totally agree and Harry’s image has been captured way better, it almost doesn’t look like William, he’s body is a bit off. The artist got Harry’s charm and charisma.

      • North of Boston says:

        It’s kind of like the shenanigans at QEII’s funeral, when TPTB didn’t allow Harry to wear his military uniform to put him in his place.

        And just by being himself, he wound up looking like he was the most powerful person there, surrounded by toy soldiers in dress up.

      • MsDoe says:

        That’s the brilliance of this portrait — maybe someone in the RF or Firm has just twigged to it? As Chaine points out, the portrait represents their respective roles: William as the heir, and Harry as the spare. This is a nod to the vocabulary of traditional portraiture. But it is very modern in how it portrays them as individuals and their relationship. William stands above Harry, but fails to tower above him. They are both at ease: William leaning against the doorway, and Harry sitting against what seems to be a stool — not sitting on it, or in it, but against it. Despite sitting, Harry appears as if he could leap up in a split second; he projects a coiled energy, vitality, strength. Even though he’s not smiling, he still projects a goodnatured humour.

        In contrast, William is lazing against the wall. There is no vital energy to him; in fact, he projects little. As others have noted, he looks tenuous, with a smile that seems barely there. He’s less upfront, more hidden, quiet, even secretive. He doesn’t project leadership, even though he is in the power position; he doesn’t look as if he could or would spring into action. He may have more hair, and he looks good, but if you think about it at all, you realize that it’s not a flattering portrayal, although it’s an honest one.

      • Feeshalori says:

        William may be standing, but he’s casually leaning against the door jamb as if he’s asking permission to enter Harry’s presence who sits as the person of authority. Perhaps it wasn’t painted with that intention in mind years ago, but knowing what we know now, it gives a whole new perspective on this painting as William being the needy one and lost without his brother.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ Chaine, that’s how I see them as well!! Harry looks relaxed, charismatic and charming whereas TOB looks inpatient and restless or uncomfortable. Two separate personalities focusing on the suave and debonair v the indignant and angry.

  8. Becks1 says:

    I feel like it was probably very “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest” – like it was put out by KP or BP that it would be much appreciated if the portrait did not return to the gallery for some time. Not a request, but definitely mentioned.

    • Nic919 says:

      I don’t think Kate or William even recall this painting exists. While I can see William in particular wanting it removed, I think it’s more likely some royalist at the NPG took it upon themselves to keep it hidden so as to potentially not offend the king or William.

      Kate is usually more obvious in her pettiness.

  9. Popsicle W says:

    This is very odd and suspect. Did they take down pictures of Diana after the divorce. Someone at the NPG certainly has issues with Sussexes. First Meghan’s bio (I stumbled on upon the issue accidentally) and now this. First one was quiet and this one is very public. And, to draw in Kate as the patron. I don’t know – seems suspect.

    • Moxylady says:

      What issue with her bio?? Was in covered here?
      God these people. They took his f$cling house and now are taking down his portraits? This is very old school the new Pharaoh destroys the images of the old Pharaoh’s face sort of vibe.

      I will say that I once went to the Chicago museum of art to specifically see a piece. It’s a phenomenal work of art. I hadn’t seen it since high school and was very excited.

      But it wasn’t on display. And at that point in my life I didn’t realize that would be an option or that I could have or should have called ahead.

      But I do remember vividly the absolute disappointment of thinking of that piece in storage instead of showcased where it should have been.

      Like allllll those flipping rooms of mostly uninspiring old ass art in the same style on the same theme. And this incredible awe inspiring statue is relegated to storage.
      But knowing I would have to live on the memories for longer? That was hard.

      I can’t imagine going to see this portrait – it’s so flipping nuanced with the power structure seeming to have been subverted but how- and it not being there. I would be super bummed.

    • SamuelWhiskers says:

      It’s really not, it’s a fake story. The painting went on tour (very prestigious) in 2018, toured for three years, and when the tour ended the gallery was already well into its three-year closure for major refurbishment so there physically wasn’t a gallery to return it to.

      It’s been in storage for two years, because the ENTIRE NPG collection has been in storage for the past couple of years.

      Just the tabloids making up scandal as click bait.

  10. TheOriginalMia says:

    William should have left it up there. Last portrait of him that’ll feature all that hair. Any hoo! The Windsors are laughingly petty. As if Harry is going to be gutted by this move. Puhleeze!

  11. Chantal says:

    I agree it’s probably a Camel move but skewed as another hit for Special K to take. Will the public really stand for the continual erasure of one of Diana’s son’s? Anyway, I don’t know how much of a fallout this portrait removal will cause when the British tabloids frequently publish photos of Harry looking even more gorgeous. And wow, Harry had more hair than W back then…

    • Iolanthe says:

      They are ugly inside and out . It must kill them that Harry and family have all the charm, grace and sweetness that no amount of money or pomp can achieve .

  12. Amy Bee says:

    I agree with Kaiser. This is the royalists wanting to spare Kate the spectacle of Kate seeing the painting when comes to visit as well as wanting to stay on the good side of the Palace.

  13. Flower says:

    If the National Gallery acquiesced to this then more fool them, because if they want to get people through the doors surely this would be it in prompting conversation.

  14. Hannah says:

    I don’t think K has the clout to have something like this pulled 🤷🏻‍♀️ Patron or not. Old YT people did this

  15. Digital Unicorn says:

    I wonder if that painting of Mumbles is still on display – you know the Dorian Grey one?!?!

    • BeanieBean says:

      I was wondering that, too. Did they remove Harry but keep Katie Keen? Did they remove Diana and add Camz? Do they really do things like this??

  16. Shawna says:

    Surely this is a non-story. It hasn’t been up since 2018, so who cares? Who was noticing (and thus prompting the story, if it’s legitimate news and not a plant with double meaning)? Sounds like more preparation for hustling Kate out of the family. We had to change the tennis awards; we had to change the National Portrait Gallery; thus she’s a liability.

    • MsIam says:

      It hasn’t been up since 2018? The year Harry and Meghan got married? The year William the Rage Monster went on a rampage about his brother’s wife? Interesting. I’m sure its all a big coincidence right?

      • Moxylady says:

        We have a winner.
        The timing on all of this is super suspect.
        William wouldn’t know good PR if he sat down for a portrait of it.

      • SamuelWhiskers says:

        It went on tour in 2018, and the very reason it was chosen for the tour (which is very prestigious) is because it’s popular, so they decided to tour the painting so that lots more people could see it.

        It’s very shady how the tabloids are twisting “sent on tour” into “OMG REMOVED!!”

    • Nic919 says:

      The story is more that they turned stored paintings into a “let’s blame kate for this” story. That is interesting.

  17. Dee says:

    I’m surprised Kate hasn’t had the painting chopped in half and had one of her portraits hung to the left, so Willy will have to look at her.

    • HamsterJam says:

      Thank you for my much needed morning laugh. Now I wish someone would do a portrait of K displaying her lightning fast reflexes when W reached out to touch her on the MB show

  18. tamsin says:

    I think it is a very interesting portrait. Harry may be sitting, and ostensibly in a “lower” position, but in fact dominates the painting. Harry is positioned on the the left, so the eye travels from Harry to William, and the figure of Harry is larger than William’s and more substantial. Harry is looking relaxed and smiling broadly. William looks “posed” with his sword, and almost effeminate, wraithlike. He seems a much less substantial figure than Harry. I think the portrait is quite an insightful revelation of the energy of the brothers. It makes quite a comment about the two men.

    • MsIam says:

      I agree, Harry definitely takes up space in the picture. William looks like he’s peeking around the corner asking if he can come in.

  19. Glamarazzi says:

    I’d never seen this portrait before, and it’s great! There’s such a sense of pent-up energy in the figures, like they’re about to spring into action. Great vibe paired with their uniforms.

    Sad it won’t be hung during the grand re-opening but I’m sure it will reappear in future, they didn’t burn it for heaven’s sake.

    • Moxylady says:

      Sometimes you do wonder if they did though, right?

      Like if William would break into Frogmore and just wreck the shit out of it all with a crow bar.

      And burn any time remnants he found inside on the lawn.

      Like a healthy well adjusted individual who’s younger singling has gone to live in another country after leaving the family business.

  20. hangonamin says:

    lol…as if Kate has that kind of pull. she just shows up to pose for pics and walks around.

  21. Bee says:

    I think it’s because of the uniforms. They don’t want to show Harry in uniform. I doubt the palace demanded it. The royalists at the npg don’t need to be told that the royals would rather not see it.

    Why it’s a story at all is just that Harry gets clicks. Love that Khate is getting blamed tho!

  22. Gabby says:

    Kate took that painting home to AC, and the Harry half is hanging on her bedroom wall. William won’t find out because never goes into Kate’s bedroom.

  23. Kittenmom says:

    Hot take – she had it chopped in half and the Harry piece is in her bedroom!

  24. Eurydice says:

    I agree with those who say this has nothing to do with the painting and everything to do with the slow boil of “anti-Kate” we’ve been seeing lately. Next, they’ll be telling us that Kate’s breakfast choices are destroying the rain forests, so William will ever so sadly have to let her go.

  25. Jaded says:

    Interesting that it was taken down the year Harry and Meghan married.

    • Moxylady says:

      Yes. I’m sure that in no time at impacted the removal of the most popular portrait in the gallery.

      And that having the most popular portrait in the gallery – to bring in the crowds- at the grand reopening of said gallery …. Well why would anyone want to do that?

    • SamuelWhiskers says:

      It wasn’t exactly “taken down”, it was sent on tour, and the whole reason it was sent on tour was because it was so popular, so that more people could see it.

  26. SamuelWhiskers says:

    The painting was NOT removed, it’s literally just made up tabloid clickbait.

    The painting was taken out of the galley in 2018 so it could go on tour (one of many), but the NPG has been closed for three years and was closed when the tour came to an end in 2021. So it physically couldn’t go back on display when the tour ended, as there was no gallery to display it.

    The painting has been in storage since 2021 so no idea why the tabloids are pretending it’s a story now. Except that the gallery is re-opening after three years and I guess some hack noticed the old painting used to be on display back in 2018 and now isn’t.

    So it wasn’t “removed.” It’s more like the curators just didn’t go “hey now we’re preparing to open the new art gallery, what about that painting of Harry that’s been in storage for years.” When there’s zillions of paintings that have been in their storage facility for the years.

  27. Rnot says:

    Another drip drip drip of a story establishing an air of petty trouble-maker around Kate.

  28. Anne says:

    Isn’t it something that even in this painting, Harry looks more engaging and full of life than his awful brother?

  29. Aj says:

    No shade. Kate doesn’t look well.

    • Unblinkered says:

      She’s probably sick with worry what Harry’s current Court appearance may reveal about her. In Court all kinds of things, unexpected things, come out.

  30. j.ferber says:

    They are trying to erase Harry like they tried to erase his mother from the narrative of the royals. Despicable.

  31. QuiteContrary says:

    William looks like a young William Hurt in that photo … it’s probably difficult to capture his essence because he has no essence.

  32. Well Wisher says:

    In light of what is revealed about the Wales, it cannot be perceived as a stretch that image was removed at their request.
    It was very popular…..
    Popular being the operative word….