By Phil Noble
It's the wedding of the year, well unless you believe all the hype in which case its the wedding of the decade, if not the millennium!
Whatever you believe, the rapidly approaching marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is going to be huge. The global interest in the British royal family, and the two young princes in particular, is massive, although not quite at the dizzying heights of Diana and Fergie in the 80's yet. But I'd be willing to wager it will be a close run thing by the end of the year, especially if yesterday was any indication.
Strangely for the world's most famous engaged couple, photographs of the two of them together are quite scarce. Sure they've been snapped by paparazzi over the last few years and there has been the occasional official photograph of the two taken to mark their engagement and at other large Royal gatherings, but aside from that they have remained low key.
Yesterday that changed as the pair stepped out into the limelight on their first real set of engagements since William popped the question.
As soon as the visits were announced a few weeks ago there was a buzz in the air, how many passes would we get, what access would we have, how many shooters do we need, what will she wear!!
This would be the first proper opportunity for the media en masse to shoot the couple in a 'real' environment, the huge desire from agencies and newspapers to secure an accreditation for the event was only equaled by the palace's desire to ensure the event was managed sensibly to garner both great coverage and ease Miss Middleton into public life as gently as possible.
Security at all Royal events means that the number of media is strictly controlled and is usually further managed by the use of a system of Rotas and fixed points. In a nutshell this means that the bulk of the photographers will be corralled in a pen at one static point for the event, usually either for the arrival/departure, whilst a much smaller group of photographers, typically 3, are selected on a rotational basis to cover the whole event, with this material then pooled with the other organizations later.
We got lucky, the William and Kate assignment had fallen on our rotation, meaning we would have one photographer with them all the time and another penned in with the world's press.
Photographers had begun marking their territory the night before the event, such was the interest. As myself and UK chief photographer Dylan Martinez applied the last piece of tape to secure his ladders to the photographers pen our thoughts turned to how we would cover the event.
It would be like shooting fashion week, a film premiere, news assignment and portrait session all at the same time. The appetite for pictures of Kate on her own is huge and we needed every variety: portraits, half and full lengths, details of her outfit. Factor in that her fiance is a Prince and this was their first engagement together and the English phrase 'every cough and spit' summed up perfectly what we'd need to file.
The rota photographer, in this case me, is shepherded from place to place during a visit so is often in a better position to shoot than those outside. This means that the hours spent with Dylan before they arrived working out angles and positioning and then repositioning the 2 sets of stepladders in the pen were crucial in ensuring he would have the best angle to cover as much of the event as possible.
The couple arrived and within minutes you could tell it was going to make great pictures. Kate looked stunning. She seemed really relaxed and was readily flashing the most beautiful smile. The strongly gusting wind that playfully kept on blowing her hair everywhere also helped. You really couldn't go wrong.
The couple seemed really at ease together and the chemistry between them made for great pictures as they beamed at each other and shared jokes. The people in the crowds that had filled the streets also warmed to them and showered the couple with gifts, applause and good wishes for the future.
The couple are being eased into the limelight in a bid to learn from the mistakes of the past, but on today's performance and global interest in the couple this may not be as easy as they hoped. Glossy magazines and newspapers around the world will be full of the couple over the next few days and commentators from Anglesey to Alaska will be analyzing everything they do, and all this before we even see her in a white dress in April.
By the time the couple arrive in Canada in June it may just seem like the 1980's all over again.