Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Engagement Shoot Photographer Says He Initially Thought the Gig Was a Prank

Alexi Lubomirski, the photographer, also shot the couple’s royal wedding in 2018.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement announcement 2017

Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Alexi Lubomirski, a British photographer, reached a huge milestone in his field of work in December 2017. Despite having an already established career, things took a turn when Lubomirski received a call from Kensington Palace, asking if he’d be willing to take Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement photos. “When I got off the phone, I said, ‘I think Kensington Palace just called me?’” he reflected while talking to People on May 17, 2023. “Two days later, I was sitting in front of [Harry and Meghan], talking concepts.”

The fashion and celebrity portrait photographer admitted that he initially thought the phone call was a prank, partially because he was facing a family health crisis at the time. “My mum was having a brain tumor taken out, so I was just all over the place,” he explained. “And then, my poor brother and sister were looking at me on the phone because it was after 10 hours of waiting for the doctors to call. So, I got on the phone, and my face was like, ‘I’m sorry, what?’ My poor brother and sister were like, ‘Oh my God, what’s happened to our mum?’” Fortunately, it ended up being good news all around: Lubomirski went on to shoot the royal couple’s engagement photos, and his mother ended up having a successful recovery.

Audrey Hepburn in Mel Ferrer's coat in 1956

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

While snapping photos at Frogmore House for Harry and Meghan’s engagement, Lubomirski recounted the jumping-off point that helped the shoot unfold. The photographer told the outlet that he was inspired by a picture of Audrey Hepburn’s husband, Mel Ferrer, wrapping her around in his coat. Lubomirski asked Harry to recreate that pose. “It just popped in my head because I saw his overcoat, and I said, 'Can you put that on?’” he reflected. “And then everything just starts folding together.”

The engagement shoot was such a success that the palace wanted Lubomirski to document another one of Harry and Meghan’s life-changing moments: their wedding. The photographer calls their 2018 nuptials “the most high-pressure job” he’s ever had, per People. He explained that he experienced anticipatory anxiety before capturing the royal couple’s big day. “I got about two hours of sleep the night before, thinking to myself, ‘OK, do I have everything? How am I going to get everyone in place? How am I going to make the queen smile?’” he remembered. 

On the day the duo tied the knot, Lubomirski said he had to be efficient since time was limited. “I'd only had three minutes to get them into the garden, take pictures, and it took three minutes to get them to the garden," he reflected. Once they were in the garden, the photographer captured a touching image of the couple, which was a highlight he still looks back on. “And there was one shot of the couple sitting in the rose garden, which is an image that I got,” he noted. “It was that first time they were alone—as in, out of the public site after being married—so it was a really, very special moment. This moment of calm." 

Both the couple’s engagement photos and wedding photos are part of Lubomirski's new book, The Sittings (2003-2023), which is a collection of his 113 favorite portraits. The book will be available for purchase on May 31, 2023.

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