People are still talking about Prince Andrew’s surprise appearance as Queen Elizabeth’s escort at the recent memorial service for the late Prince Philip. While the royals presented a united front, a royal insider has revealed the turmoil behind the scenes.
Photographer Told He Couldn’t Cover Queen’s Entrance
When Queen Elizabeth entered Westminster Abbey for her late husband’s Service of Thanksgiving, many were shocked to see her on the arm of Prince Andrew. The prince recently settled a sexual assault lawsuit brought by Virginia Guiffre, a trafficking victim of Jeffrey Epstein.
The photos of Andrew and his mother walking up the aisle have been seen around the world, but they were almost never taken at all. Richard Pohle, a staff photographer for The Times, was taking pictures of the event for a number of British press outlets. This system, known as the “royal rota,” sees different outlets take turns covering royal events, then sharing the photos.
In an article for The Times, Pohle described how a palace aide initially told him not to photograph the queen until she had already taken her seat. This would have meant no pictures were taken of the queen and Prince Andrew together.
“Last week in Westminster Abbey I was with two smiling and pleasant press officers from Buckingham Palace, both of whom I had worked with before,” Pohle wrote. “They told me I would not be able to photograph the entrance of the Queen until, basically, they said I could.”
“To an outsider this may seem reasonable. ‘What’s the problem,’ you may ask, ‘the Queen should have some privacy in her advanced age,’” he continued. “I agree, but when the BBC is broadcasting the entire event to the world I think I should be able to take a picture as the only official photographer.”
Pohle pushed back, but the royal aides insisted that the no-picture order “came from the top” and that “it wasn’t up to them.” The photographer continued pushing, saying, “I was responsible for still photography for the entire media and would be in a hell of a lot of trouble if there was blanket TV coverage of the Queen openly showing support for Prince Andrew, but no photographs. This seemed to have an effect, as one of the press officers went off to make a phone call.”
Pohle’s Way Around The No-Photo Rule
A compromise was reached where Pohle could photograph the queen’s entrance from a certain spot, but when everyone in the church got to their feet when she walked in, he couldn’t get the shot.
“Desperation dictated I do something quickly. As the choir started up I jumped off my footstool and moved quickly to the aisle between the rows of seats opposite where the Queen would walk,” Pohle described. “Suddenly moving from an official position while on a royal rota is the most cardinal of sins. I brushed past the press officer and could feel a hand reach out to try and stop me but I rushed past and crouched in the center of the aisle.”
“I got the picture,” he finished. “I knew it would be the main picture from the ceremony that the news outlets were looking for. I went back to my official position passing the frowning press officer and whispered an apology.”
While BBC’s coverage of the event meant that the world would have seen Prince Andrew escort the queen anyway, Pohle’s quick thinking ensured that photographs were taken of the controversial event as well.