Photographers' Blog

The view from inside the Abbey

There were probably more than a billion people who would’ve loved to have been inside Westminster Abbey to see Prince William marry Kate Middleton and to soak up the glamor of what was, for a day, the world’s biggest news story.

I was lucky enough to be assigned a position inside the abbey, but though I got to witness the spectacle through a camera lens, my experience was less about pomp and pageantry and more about perils and pratfalls.

With the congregation dolled up to the nines, even the photographers were expected to smarten up. Abbey staff told us to wear “a suit and tie or female equivalent”. Dressed accordingly in my smartest jacket and skirt, I felt the part – right up until I saw the ladders.

To get to my position, a rickety, three-story high balcony perched above the abbey’s main doorway, I would have to scale a series of steep, metal-rung ladders. I would have to scale them carrying a heavy camera bag behind me — wearing a skirt.

It was hard work, but myself and the six other photographers assigned to the spot worked like a team of Himalayan sherpas to ferry all our gear up the ladders. After 15 stressful minutes of hauling and holding on for dear life, I was safely at the top.

Completing the Royal puzzle

As dawn broke over Westminster Abbey on Friday, myself and the other Reuters photographers were already on our way to our positions for the big day. With no donkey in sight, it already felt like we had done a days work by the time we got there.

Those of us with fixed positions on media gantries could access them from 6am which seems plenty of time for an 11 am start. But with the abbey doors opening from just after 8am and the guests starting to arrive shortly after it didn’t allow for much time for us to set up all the equipment and ensure our various editors around the world could see our pictures.

It wasn’t good for the blood pressure when we discovered the internet connection we had installed outside the abbey for myself, Kai and Toby Melville (who would shoot the key head on picture of the couple leaving as man and wife), had failed overnight and it was a frantic hour or so while replacement parts were sought and installed by our technical team. As with most assignments like this, the on day reality of the event often bears little resemblance to how it appeared in rehearsal or the day earlier.