Charles and Camilla tour Africa
I have just returned from a hectic, whistle-stop Autumn tour of South Africa and Tanzania with Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, and culminating on the green slopes of Kilmanjaro, Tanzania, the trip was incredibly visual, hot, hectic and enjoyable. And it really showed me that this royal couple knows how to have fun.
I have been on about 15 tours with the Duchess and the Prince and the relatively small number of journalists and photographers on this trip really allowed for flexibility and intimacy in the way in which I was able to work – something that always results in better pictures. I had been looking forward to this tour for a while; whilst the emphasis over the past few months has been strongly on Prince William and his glamorous young wife, Catherine, this tour was an opportunity for the spotlight to be once again on some of the more senior members of the Royal Family.
From past experience, I knew that a trip that took us to some more remote areas of the world would result in much more fluid, unexpected and exciting photos than the fairly sterile and formulaic military events we often experience.
The evening before the tour started it was announced we would begin the trip with an unscheduled visit to the iconic Black township of Soweto in Johannesburg. As the Royal Couple arrived blinking into the bright African sunshine, a vibrant reception of Zulu dancers swayed and sang to welcome them. In the course of visiting some of the local stallholders over the next hour, Camilla, game as always, tried on one of the traditional Zulu headdresses she was presented with. It made a fantastic picture — and the fun image of the 64-year-old Duchess graced the pages of nearly every paper the next day in the UK. We were off to a good start.
Having last been to Zanzibar more than 12 years ago, I was excited about returning to this beautiful island off Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. The blending of African and Arabic peoples makes for a fascinating mix of architecture and culture. We were on the penultimate leg of the trip and everything had been going incredibly well. The Duchess had, before lunch, done some tourist shopping and got a henna tattoo in Stone Town Old Fort.
Charles was also in an incredibly buoyant mood and the Royal Couple ended up taking part in a traditional Chapauringe dance which was swiftly followed by a some coconut tasting – not your average royal events (but some great opportunities for photos!).
Visiting the Maasai Boma in Arusha just near the base of Kilimanjaro was an experience I will never forget. The women and the men separated, and, each with their distinctive style of dancing, kicked up the dust in a frenzy of bouncing and chanting.
More than 500 had gathered in the Boma (traditional homestead) to greet the Royals. The Royal Couple arrived into the hubbub of dancing and chanting and the Maasai presented them with gifts: a large Maasai necklace for the Duchess and a stool and traditional stick for the Prince. The Duchess was really getting into the swing of things by this stage and had the beaded ring fastened around her neck by a local woman. Another really great day on what had been a fantastic tour.
I ended my trip on the slopes of mount Meru in Arusha National Park. In the distance, Kilimanjaro provided the backdrop for the Royal Couple’s final short walk in the bush where Honary Consul in Arusha Richard Beatty guided them to a spectacular waterfall. As the pool photographer, this was a relaxed opportunity to capture some great pictures in this unique environment – whilst trying not to scare the animals the Prince was trying to spot though his binoculars!
It wasn’t only myself who was enjoying the incredible visual experience Africa offers. Whilst in the bush in Arusha on our last day the Duchess also decided to take a few snaps, even taking a shot of me photographing her, photographing me, if you see what I mean! Check out the British Monarchy’s flickr site to see….