Capturing the Jubilee, right down to Princess Eugenie’s nail polish
The sheer amount of organization and logistics to get everyone cleared with security and into some incredibly novel and interesting viewpoints was mind-blowing.
Rather like the royal wedding, it was very much a team effort and not without its challenges. Twenty-five Getty Images photographers, supported by a team of editors and a tireless picture desk, shot the event in 3D, panoramic, gigapixel and time lapse from every conceivable position.
From Oli Scarff being lashed on the roof of the Tate Modern to Peter Macdiarmid shooting the Red Arrows flyby from the lofty position of the RAF weather helicopter – some really unique viewpoints gave our output on the day a very special feel. Things didn’t always go to plan: photographers not only had vast numbers of public to deal with but also last-minute changes to positions and, of course, the frankly horrendous weather conditions.
Despite these challenges however, the team prevailed and created an incredible and historic set of images.
I started my Jubilee weekend on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. on Chelsea Bridge. This was going to be a key position as it was one of the first views of the Thames River Pageant and a good opportunity to get some early images sent across to many of the publications on deadline. From a personal point of view, the Bridge was designed by my great grandfather George Topham Forrest, so, for such a historic event I quite enjoyed the link in to my family’s past.
After securing my position right at the centre of the bridge I next had to walk up to Piccadilly where I was due to photograph an unpublicized appearance of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the “Big Jubilee Lunch.” With vast numbers of public around and limited transport options I was forced to walk the couple of miles up to central London… and arrived realizing I certainly wasn’t as fit as I used to be! Camilla was on top form as always and even presented the excited revelers with a specially designed “Union Jack” cake.
The Pageant was an incredible experience with the cheers and shouts from the crowds making up for the rather damp weather. Each boat as it passed under the bridge was given a rapturous greeting. After the bulk of the flotilla had passed, I was briefed to try and get some images sent out, as these early pictures were key to our coverage, while my colleagues would continue shooting from the event. However, sitting in a nearby hotel filing some of the many pictures I had taken, I did feel more than a little sorry for some of the photographers further up the river – the weather turned what could only be described as biblical!
I was fortunate enough to have been given a ticket to the Diamond Jubilee Concert on Monday. This incredible experience was something I shall never forget. We were lucky for the weather to clear and witness a semblance of a sunset. After much flag waving and some amazing performances from the likes of Robbie Williams and Paul McCartney, Prince Charles’s emotional speech to “Mummy” certainly seemed to be heartfelt, and added to the genuine feeling of goodwill to the Royal Family the event generated.
The projections on Buckingham Palace were spectaular – my personal favorite moment was when the building was turned into a block of council flats as Madness played on the roof. The fireworks were an impressive finale and lit up Buckingham Palace to the sounds of cheers from the crowd and Paul McCarney’s “Live and Let Die.”
On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be photographing a reception at the Guildhall. This was another once-in-a-lifetime moment, as I realized that effectively, I was in a room with pretty much every member of the Royal Family (apart from the Queen and the Duke), as well as the Prime Minister and Prime Ministers and Presidents from all over the Commonwealth. As one of only two photographers in this pool position, it was difficult to even know where to start!
In all, the Diamond Jubilee was an event, the likes of which I am unlikely to ever witness again. However, it’s important to bear in mind that whilst the Jubilee celebrations were concentrated around that weekend in June, there are still lots more Royal happenings to look forward to this Year: The highlight, for me, certainly being William and Catherine’s and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s Jubilee tours later in the year to to such far flung places as Australia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore.
It is indeed shaping up to be a year to remember!
Editor’s note: Chris Jackson is our Getty Images Royals photographer. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisJack_Getty.