Kate Middleton’s Royal Painter Is the Victim of a Witch Hunt

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British artist Paul Emsley poses in front of his portrait of Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge after its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in central London on January 11, 2013. This is the first official portrait of the Duchess and was completed after two sittings at the artist's studio and Kensington Palace.
British artist Paul Emsley poses in front of his portrait of Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge after its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in central London on January 11, 2013. This is the first official portrait of the Duchess and was completed after two sittings at the artist's studio and Kensington Palace. Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking publicly for the first time since the unveiling of his Kate Middleton portrait earlier this month, Paul Emsley told Hello: "Some of the words written about it were so personal ... I'd be inhuman if I said it didn't affect me. When you take on commissions like this it is hazardous and you expect a bit of flak, but I expected nothing like the criticism I received. It felt like a bit of a witch-hunt and people who had not even seen my portrait joined in." The Scottish-born artist thinks "half the problem" is that the painting doesn't photograph well and maintained that he wouldn't have changed anything about it. Emsley said, in the end, Kate's "words meant more to me than anything else said or written" — she reportedly called it "absolutely brilliant" — but did add that the duchess hasn't reached out to him since the backlash began. She's probably been busy.