This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a complex of more than 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by the Nazis in occupied Poland. More than 1 million people, most of them Jewish, were murdered there during WWII.
Kate, 38, who has regularly released photos she has taken of her children and who is patron of the Royal Photographic Society, described the people she photographed as “two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet,” according to the palace.
One image shows 84-year-old Steven Frank, originally from Amsterdam, alongside his granddaughters Maggie and Trixie Fleet, aged 15 and 13. The photo, in its composition and its sharp contrasts of light and dark, seems to be inspired by the beloved Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.
Another image is that of 82-year-old Yvonne Bernstein, originally from Germany, who hid in France throughout most of the Holocaust. She is pictured with her granddaughter Chloe Wright, 11.
Other images of survivors also were released, taken by photographers from the Royal Photographic Society.
The portraits, taken at Kensington Palace earlier this month, are part of a collaborative project between the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Jewish News and the Royal Photographic Society. They will be included in an exhibit that will open later this year.
Kate said in a statement on the Royal Photography Society website that she sought to make the portraits “deeply personal” to the sitters, a “celebration of family and the life that they have built” since they arrived in Britain in the 1940s.
“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,” Kate said.
She said she recognised that few people in the future would be able to hear the stories of survivors first hand, as she has.
“It is vital that their memories are preserved and passed on to future generations, so that what they went through will never be forgotten,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among scores of British leaders who arrived in rainy weather for the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, which has taken place every year in the United Kingdom since 2001.
Prince William, who was appointed by the queen to position of Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Saturday, was to give a reading during the ceremony.
On Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of people come together across the United Kingdom to learn more about the past, to honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed, and to take action to create a safer future, according to the palace.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust works to ensure the life stories of survivors are shared with the world.
After the ceremony, Will and Kate were to meet Holocaust survivors, and survivors of more recent genocides, who took part in the ceremony.