HRH The Duke of Cambridge

Date: 08.12.15
Author: Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Tags:, , , , , , ,

Are you going to curtsy?
I hadn’t thought about it. Probably not. You don’t have to curtsy these days I don’t think
You are going to curtsy though aren’t you?
Er probably not Mum, I don’t think I know how to. What if no-one else does
LOUISE you MUST curtsy

The steely tone of this final sentence was one I haven’t heard since I was a teenager refusing to tidy my room. Surely someone will brief me as to how one correctly greets the future King when I arrive anyway, it’ll be fine.
As it happens, they don’t. You receive an email with a list of ID to bring, there’s a dress code (FYI dresses and Billingham bags don’t get on unless you velcro the hem to your tights) and a map. Absolutely nothing about that preciously important moment that I’ll cherish and remember for the rest of my life and how best to go about conducting myself in an appropriate and respectful manner so as not to bring shame.

When it finally happens, I can hear my mums distant voice but no-one else seems to be bowing so I freestyle a kind of simultaneous one leg small squat/handshake combo that has little prestigious effect other than to make me appear as if I have a stoop. I panicked, but the Duke of Cambridge was slightly reaching over a sofa to greet me anyway so I might just have gotten away with it.

I was there at Kensington Palace to photograph his Highness being interviewed by Sophia Kichou whom he met through the homeless charity Centrepoint, of which he is a patron. They first met back in 2011 whilst Sophia was staying in a hostel after having become homeless at just 18. She had aspirations of becoming a journalist which is how the Prince came to offer her the chance of an interview should she pursue her career choice. Four years later and there we were (myself and a writer from the Big Issue and two people from Centrepoint) all dressed as though ready to attend a wedding, witnessing Sophia fulfill her dream and the Prince fulfill his promise. It was wonderful to be part of, there was such a feeling of goodwill and accomplishment in the room. The conversation between them was great, serious subjects were touched upon, but in between there was lot’s of laughter and most importantly a genuine mutual respect.

Post interview it was my time to take over from Sophia’s sterling job, taking the reins so I could photograph them together for the main feature shot. The banter carried on, so it was easy for me to get some lovely natural shots of them interacting. I tried a couple of variations to address the height discrepancy using an antique chair that I’d found, which William kindly jumped up to help me lift when I wanted it out of shot. I’m 99% certain it was chivalry but in hindsight it was probably quite valuable so maybe he thought I might break it. He must have seen my clumsy one leg squat thing after all.

I had just a few precious minutes at the end to get some close up shots of the Duke on his own. I would love to remember what we were talking about as it was all a bit of a blur, but what I certainly do recall is the ease with which he engaged with me. Whatever I happened to be wittering on about, he humoured it and joined in, which can be rare when the clock is ticking and there are other pressing appointments to attend. It certainly is one I’ll cherish forever.

The feature runs exclusively in this weeks brilliant Big Issue magazine!

 

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