Royal photographer Hugo Burnand
I HAVE TAKEN pictures of various members of the Royal family, but until this point, I hadn’t photographed Trooping the Colour before. I’d only witnessed it as a tourist.
After the ceremony there’s a bit of family time for the royals to look after their horses within the quad of Buckingham Palace. I believe I was the first person to be given permission to photograph within the quad. It’s a very formal day and I wanted the juxtaposition of that and the human side, the family side.
The type of horses ridden for the trooping are called chargers, and the Prince of Wales’s charger is George – he was 17 years old when I took this picture. He was a gift to the Queen from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and he has been the Prince’s charger for 10 years.
Here, George is being rewarded for all his hard work with some carrots. I quite wanted to give the horses a few, too – I have ridden since I was about three, so was very comfortable around them, and that definitely helped. This particular day was an absolute scorcher, magnified by the heavy uniforms and saddlery that are worn on such occasions. I was in a suit and tie with a camera strap around my neck and that was enough for me.
I have worked for the Prince since 2005, and we have built up a trust. He is happy for me to try new ideas, such as this ‘behind the scenes’ shot. Some of the most successful pictures occur when you step outside a strict brief. That happened 10 years ago when I took formal photographs of the Prince in his Welsh Guards uniform. After the shoot, we discussed that it might be more fun to do an informal picture; I might even have referred to it as a ‘forthe-hell-of-it-shot’. That photograph became his official 60th-birthday portrait.
The first time I officially photographed him was at Windsor Castle for his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles. It was very special. The Prince obviously liked the results because he asked me privately to do further work for him, and I went on to photograph the young princes, and then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. I’ve got four children and when they’re sitting their exams, I always say it really makes a difference if you prepare. The same applies to photography. For this photo I was there quite early, I knew the territory, I was familiar with my camera (and its spare, both Canons) and I got as much local information as possible.
With the Duke and Duchess’s wedding, which was a bigger and more public affair, we spent three days in the throne room at Buckingham Palace checking the lighting and the space. We got spares for all the equipment and spares for the spares. We did a timed dress rehearsal with stand-ins, so we knew how long everything would take. (Some of the stand-ins even pretended to be small children.) After going through it so meticulously, there comes a day when you’re not nervous, just excited.
Before meeting the Prince I had an idea of him through knowing Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, but when I met him I realised what a gentleman he is, so kind and well mannered, very thoughtful and with fantastic empathy. It is comforting to be dealing with someone who is so very human.
The Price of Wales’s charger is called George. Here he is being rewarded with some carrots
The Prince of Wales with his charger, George, after Trooping the Colour in June 2017