Paul McCartney attends the reopening of the National Portrait Gallery

Tuesday, June 20, 2023


The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is an art gallery located in London, dedicated to housing a remarkable collection of portraits featuring historically significant and famous British individuals. Since its inauguration in 1856, it has been widely regarded as one of the pioneering national public galleries, exclusively dedicated to the display of portraits.

In February 1984, a portrait of Paul McCartney painted by Humphrey Ocean was unveiled at The National Portrait Gallery.

The gallery underwent a substantial refurbishment program, resulting in its closure from 2020 to 2023. By late May 2020, some galleries had already closed, with a complete shutdown by July 2020. Finally, on June 22, 2023, the gallery reopened its doors to the public.

Coinciding with the reopening, a temporary exhibition titled “Eyes of The Storm” was unveiled on June 28. This exhibition showcased a collection of photographs captured by Paul McCartney himself during the period spanning December 1963 to February 1964, coinciding with the emergence of Beatlemania.

On this day, June 20, Her Royal Highness, Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, visited the National Portrait Gallery, ahead of its official reopening. During her visit, she met with Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy, engaging in a discussion centered around his highly anticipated upcoming exhibition.

From Daily Mail Online, June 20, 2023:

The Princess of Wales chatted all things art with Sir Paul McCartney this morning ahead of the opening of a Beatles exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Kate, 41, met the former Beatles singer and his wife Nancy as she visited the gallery this morning to officially re-open it following a three-year restoration project.

She had a fit of the giggles as ‘Macca’, 81, who has his own photographic exhibition opening there next week focusing on The Beatles in 1963 to 64, joked about whether his wife would have been born then. At 63, she would have been born in 1959 and reassured him she had been. […]

Sir Paul, in his customary suit and trainers, greeted the princess with a handshake and introduced Kate to his wife, Nancy.

‘Hello, nice to meet you too,’ the princess said. McCartney told her that the NPG staff ‘had been amazing here, really they’ve been great’.

‘It’s amazing how long the planning is, how many conversations happen pre everything,’ Kate replied. ‘That’s true,’ the star said.

Explaining more about his exhibition, McCartney said it focused on a very specific period, 1963 to 1964. ‘When you weren’t even born’, he said, smiling, to the royal.

Turning to to his wife he added: ‘Oh, you weren’t either.’ Nancy laughingly looked upwards and counted before replying that she very much had been.

Kate was keen to ask McCartney how he was able to choose ‘what pieces you wanted in there’.

The singer said he had the help of the gallery’s curator and his own archivist. ‘But were there pieces that were very important to you personally?,’ she asked.

‘For me the pictures of John and George particularly, just because they are not here,’ he replied. […]

Sir Paul and Lady Nancy were absolutely charming today. He made a point of greeting each journalist and asking where they were from. His wife joked: ‘He’s done this once before,’ so I replied: ‘Well you can tell your husband that for a novice, he’s doing a pretty good job!’

From Rebecca English on Twitter, June 20, 2023

From Rebecca English on Twitter, June 20, 2023: The Princess of Wales has met Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy at the opening of the @NPGLondon

From Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery – National Portrait Gallery (

The Inspiring People project is transforming the National Portrait Gallery. Designed by Jamie Fobert Architects and made possible by major grants from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Ross Foundation and David and Molly Lowell Borthwick. The project comprises a complete re-presentation of the Collection, combined with a significant refurbishment of the building, the creation of public spaces, a more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt, and a new Learning Centre.

In order to complete the building project, the Gallery in St Martin’s Place closed to the public in spring 2020. Since then Inspiring People has seen the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities, working in partnership with museums, communities and schools across the UK and reaching new audiences locally, regionally and online. Our national and international programmes have also seen hundreds of portraits travel across the world as we continue to share our Collection as widely as possible.

The Gallery will reopen to the public on 22 June 2023 – to guarantee entry book your free ticket now.


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