Countdown to the Royal Wedding
With less than two weeks to go until the big day, photographers all over London (myself included), are polishing their lenses and backing up their hard drives in preparation to record one of the most historic events of recent times – the Royal Wedding.
Over the last few months I have witnessed Kate (or Catherine as we now know her) transform from a seemingly timid girl wearing ‘that’ blue dress (enter the glare of the world’s media at her engagement photocall), to a polished and significantly slimmer Royal bride-to-be. This metamorphosis was most evident at her first real public engagement in Anglesey, North Wales last month.
The advice and training from William’s advisors and confidants has certainly paid off. The seemingly mundane event of the launch of a lifeboat in North Wales bought out the world’s media in numbers not seen for decades, perhaps since Diana’s time! I was up early and headed down to the location to reserve a spot at 6am so after hours of anticipation (and plenty of coffee!) I was more than ready to capture the moment Kate stepped out of the car with a new found confidence and sense of self assurance.
Flashing the occasional smile at photographers, she chatted confidently with bystanders and intimately whispered to Prince William as they seemed to share their own private moments. She worked the crowds like a pro, giving each person the full focus of her attention. The public loved it and the next day an ever so slightly more tired Kate emerged, this time in red, to wow the streets of St Andrews, Scotland as the Royal couple headed back to the town where they first fell in love. I was certainly feeling a little jaded that day having survived on Red Bull and John Grisham story tapes for the seven hour overnight drive up from North Wales. It was worth it though, and as a photographer I feel really excited to be part of a tide of interest in this Royal love story. Any photo of Kate seems to walk on to the front pages of the Telegraph, Times even The Guardian – not to mention the countless magazine covers and newspapers around the world
Last weekend I spent a decidedly damp day in the North of England photographing William and Kate at their reportedly final public appearance before the wedding. With Kate, the transformation appears complete, a slick and extremely slim bride-to-be again wowed the gathered crowds in Whitton Park, who appeared undeterred by the worst of the British weather – determined to catch a glimpse of Prince William’s future wife. Again Kate spent time meeting members of the public, shaking hands and patting babies heads, all good training for the future life of a Royal. She seemed to have developed a trademark laugh where she bends back and looks at William, something that makes for animated pictures.
For the past few years, the small group of official ‘Royal Photographers,’ of which I would consider myself a member, have been happy in their comfort zone. Trips abroad with the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles would be covered by a small group of photographers and journalists. Prince Harry and William’s recent trips to Africa (Botswana and Lesotho) and Prince William’s visit to Australia and New Zealand last year certainly generated a high level of interest, but nothing really in comparison to what we are experiencing today.
Whilst the wedding day itself will certainly cause a level of stress, the pressure will probably be incomparable to their first trip abroad, reportedly Canada in early July. Days of travelling back and forth across different time zones and the pressure to be involved in key pool pictures will be great. We have not seen much of Kate in evening wear and certainly the fashionistas will be excited by the prospect of tiaras and flowing evening gowns. It will undoubtedly be an exciting time though, and despite the pressure, I will relish being involved in documenting this historic trip. The buzz of this level of competitiveness is really addictive, but draining, and after 10 days I may well be in need of a very long holiday!
On the 29th of April as William and Kate leave Westminster Abbey, I shall be in my position as part of a small pool on the Crimea Memorial (outside the front of Westminster Abbey) to document their first steps as a married couple. As I snap the shutter down, technology will play a key part in transmitting these shots to picture desks around the world in minutes. Getty Images will have an experienced team on hand, making sure these historic pictures are delivered to our clients in record time – from all our photographers who will be documenting every conceivable view of the procession route.
Members of the public on their iPhones and professional photographers alike will be along the route, ensuring that this is one of the most photographed days in history. I certainly do not envy the job of a picture editor on a national paper as thousands of images drop on to their desktops!
Whilst undoubtedly there will be members of the public who are experiencing a bit of ‘William and Kate fatigue,’ for an official Royal Photographer such as myself, this wedding is the start of a new and energetic chapter in the royal story. It has upped the pace from a pedestrian stroll to a full-on sprint, and I look forward to a good few years of Royal firsts – pregnancies, births, foreign tours and who knows, maybe even Harry will get hitched one of these days?!