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Princess of Wales re opens National Portrait Gallery

Princess of Wales re-opens National Portrait Gallery

The Princess of Wales met Sir Paul McCartney and Tracey Emin as she re-opened the National Portrait Gallery following its three-year, £41.3 million refurbishment.

Kate, who is patron of the gallery, officially opened its news doors in London on Tuesday ahead of its re-opening to members of the public later this week.

She met former Beatle Sir Paul and his wife Nancy Shevell in the gallery gift shop, with the three speaking about his own artistic collections.

Earlier, she spoke with award-winning British artist Emin, whose 45 hand-drawn female portraits have been cast in bronze as artwork for the gallery’s new entrance doors, upon her arrival.

Ms Emin said after the re-opening: “When I arrived, I was anxious.

“There was all these other things that were on my mind, and I totally forgot about the doors!

“So when I came up, I gasped – it was a big surprise and that lifted my energy.”

The Princess first visited the Mildred and Simon Palley Learning Centre, where she met children from Soho Parish Nursery and Westminster Family Hub undertaking a workshop on Beatrix Potter.

Kate noted the importance of introducing children to creativity that “captures their imagination” and spoke to three-year-old Raini, praising her work of art and its “buzzy bees”.

The gallery will be launching an Under 5’s programme in September, which will welcome families from the local community to the Gallery and encourage creative learning, play and exploration.

Kate was then taken through the colourful rooms of Duveen Wing, before stopping to view Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai (Omai), one of the gallery’s newly-acquired paintings.

Produced in 1776, it depicts the first Polynesian to visit Britain and is one of the first portraits that includes tattoos.

Kate said she loved the colour and tone of the painting, and noted how someone “could spend absolutely ages” admiring the many portraits.

Afterwards, the Princess was shown around the Yevonde exhibition, stopping to ask questions about a variety of pieces in the London photographer’s “wonderful” collection.

Sir Paul and Nancy then greeted Kate following the tour, and discussed the contents of the gallery and the former Beatles member’s own upcoming exhibition.

A collection of Sir Paul’s personal photographs taken between 1963 and 1964 is due to open in the gallery on June 28.

Kate waved to crowds gathered outside the gallery as she departed.

Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said the Princess was “fantastic” and “really passionate”.

He added: “To have a senior member of the royal family that really cares about culture, museums, art and is knowledgeable and supportive is such a great thing for this country.”

Opened in 1856, the National Portrait Gallery moved to its current location 40 years later and houses over 11,000 portraits of historically famous and important British people in its Primary Collection.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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