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Why Prince William and Kate Middleton's most memorable royal wedding photo almost didn't happen

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding photographer Hugo Burnand reveals all

prince william kate royal wedding balcony© Photo: Getty Images
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
April 27, 2020
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will no doubt enjoy looking back through their wedding photos as they celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary on Wednesday, and there is one image in particular that is likely to be especially memorable to the couple. Showing Kate resting one hand on Prince William's knee as they sat on the steps of Buckingham Palace's throne room with their young bridesmaids and pageboys, it has become one of the most iconic royal wedding photos. However, the couple's photographer Hugo Burnand has revealed it almost wasn't taken due to the strict schedule he had to follow on the day.

Speaking to Town and Country in 2019, Hugo said he had lengthy discussions with amateur photographer Kate in the lead-up to the day about their desire to create unique wedding portraits. Each photo had been planned in a "specific schedule", meaning Hugo could only capture the group shot he had in mind once all of the other photos had been taken.

Hugo Burnand royal wedding portrait© Photo: Getty Images

Hugo Burnand with a copy of his iconic royal wedding photograph

"We finished with three minutes to spare so I asked Catherine if we could do the shot we had talked about previously. And she turned to William and said, 'What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go for it,'" Hugo explained. "So in three minutes she sat down on the steps, Sarah Burton put the dress out perfectly, Prince William leant in, the children basically did what they felt was the right thing to do."

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He added: "That was a very spontaneous picture. That little detail there [points to Kate’s hand touching William’s knee] and William leaning in there, all these things were not directed, but a result of a good relationship with everyone."

Prince William and Kate royal wedding flypast© Photo: Getty Images

All of the official portraits had to be captured before the royal wedding flypast

The portrait ended up being the photographer’s favourite shot of the day, which was the result of three weeks of planning, and three days of setting up equipment at Buckingham Palace prior to the nuptials. Leaving nothing to chance, Hugo also revealed that his team used staff from the palace for dress rehearsals of the photographs to ensure there was enough time to get all of the family portraits required ahead of their 1.30pm curfew, when the royals gathered on the balcony to watch the flypast. Who knew?!

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