Kensington Palace shares touching photos of Duchess Kate with Holocaust survivors who were part of her portrait series

By Heather Cichowski with files from Francesca Shillcock

Kensington Palace shares touching photos of Duchess Kate with Holocaust survivors who were part of her portrait series


Duchess Kate recently released moving portraits of Holocaust survivors Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. To mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Jan. 27, Kensington Palace also shared never-before-seen photos on Instagram of the Duchess of Cambridge with Yvonne and Steven during the photoshoot.

The behind-the-scenes images show Kate in a black turtleneck, plaid skirt and block heels. In the three photos that were shared on social media, she's seen with Steven and Yvonne throughout the session. The first image shows the women sharing a laugh while another picture captures them in conversation while relaxing on sofas.

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Today is #HolocaustMemorialDay, which takes place each year on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and honours survivors of the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution, and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Earlier this month, The Duchess of Cambridge met two Holocaust survivors, Steven Frank and Yvonne Bernstein, as she took photographs for a project by @holocaustmemorialdaytrust, Jewish News and @royalphotographicsociety to mark 75 years since the end of the Holocaust. The Duchess’s photographs will be included in an exhibition of 75 images of survivors and their family members, which will open later this year. “The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts. Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish. Despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet. They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever.” – The Duchess of Cambridge Photographs © Kensington Palace

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The image of Kate and Steven appears to be taken right in the middle of the shoot with him in position with his family, granddaughters 13-year-old Trixie and 15-year-old Maggie Fleet. The duchess seems to be taking an active role in what's going on.

Kate photographed Yvonne, Steven and their families for a project by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, The Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society to mark the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust.

"The harrowing atrocities of the Holocaust, which were caused by the most unthinkable evil, will forever lay heavy in our hearts," Kate wrote in a caption that accompanied the original three photos. "Yet it is so often through the most unimaginable adversity that the most remarkable people flourish.

"Despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives, Yvonne Bernstein and Steven Frank are two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet. They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. Their stories will stay with me forever."

The admiration is mutual, and Steven has high praise for Duchess Kate. The 84-year-old opened up about his favourite parts of the photoshoot during a recent interview on This Morning in the UK.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful photograph," Steven revealed. "And the thing I really loved is Maggie's little teddy bear lying there, so peacefully, in her lap. It's sort of made the whole photograph."

In the final image, granddaughter Maggie looks on adoringly at grandpa Steven as she holds the bear. His younger granddaughter, Trixie, is in the background smiling at him. Steven, who survived Westerbork and Theresienstadt concentration camps, has tomatoes next to him and holds a pan his mother used while cooking for him and his brothers while they were in the camp.

Yvonne, who was hidden in France during the Holocaust before eventually arriving in the UK at age eight, also poses with her granddaughter, Chloe Wright, 11.

Kate is an accomplished photographer. Royals fans will know she has taken numerous portraits her children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. she studied photography at university.

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As part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, The Duchess of Cambridge has taken photographs of two Holocaust survivors with their grandchildren. The first photograph features Steven Frank with his granddaughters, Maggie and Trixie. Alongside his mother and brothers, Steven was sent to Westerbork transit camp then to Theresienstadt. Steven and his brothers were 3 of only 93 children who survived the camp - 15,000 children were sent there. The Duchess also photographed Yvonne Bernstein with her granddaughter Chloe. Yvonne was a hidden child in France, travelling in the care of her aunt and uncle and frequently changing homes and names. The Duchess said: “I wanted to make the portraits deeply personal to Yvonne and Steven – a celebration of family and the life that they have built since they both arrived in Britain in the 1940s. The families brought items of personal significance with them which are included in the photographs. It was a true honour to have been asked to participate in this project and I hope in some way Yvonne and Steven’s memories will be kept alive as they pass the baton to the next generation.” The portraits will form part of a new exhibition opening later this year by @holocaustmemorialdaytrust, Jewish News and @royalphotographicsociety , which will feature 75 images of survivors and their family members. The exhibition will honour the victims of the Holocaust and celebrate the full lives that survivors have built in the UK, whilst inspiring people to consider their own responsibility to remember and share the stories of those who endured Nazi persecution. Portraits ©The Duchess of Cambridge

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For this emotional project, Kate asked the families to bring items that held personal significance that could be included in the photographs. Her final images drew inspiration from Dutch baroque painter Johannes Vermeer's iconic Girl With a Pearl Earring painting and Anne Frank's diary, which she read as a young girl and left a lasting impression on her.

The duchess’s photographs will be included in an upcoming exhibition of 75 images of survivors and their family members. It is set to open later this year.

MORE: Duchess Kate shares photos she took of Holocaust survivors to mark 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation


Kate and William listen intently with their eyes full of emotion during the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorative Ceremony in Westminster. Photo: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

On Jan. 27, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also stepped out to a Holocaust Memorial Day service in Westminster in London. Prince William gave a speech along with survivors and veterans. The pair was visibly moved by the words.



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