Kate Middleton and Prince William's Wedding Photographer Reveals That the Most Iconic Photo From Their Wedding Was Totally Spontaneous

And almost didn't happen

Updated 11/01/19

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When you think of Kate Middleton and Prince William's 2011 royal wedding, chances are a very specific photo springs to mind. You know the one, featuring the couple surrounded by their families in the throne room of Buckingham Palace. But as anyone who's ever planned a wedding (or attempted to take a photo with children in it) knows, a picture like this took a lot of work to make happen.

In an interview with Town and Country, royal photographer Hugo Burnand shared some new details about how much went into creating the iconic photos. “We had three weeks of serious pre-production organization and then three days right before the wedding when we set ourselves up at Buckingham Palace inside the Throne Room—it became our home,” he said, noting that they needed to bring in special lighting to ensure the portraits came out perfectly. “We did dress rehearsals with stopwatches using endless staff from Buckingham Palace to fill in as family members, so we knew we had just enough time...The Fly Past was at 1:30 p.m. and we couldn’t over run, even by a minute."

Burnand notes that he'd "never been that prepared" in his entire life, and the prep apparently paid off. Things were so well planned that there was time to spare at the end of the shoot for one final photo, and that's how the iconic group shot wound up happening. “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.’ 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,” he said.

Royal Wedding 2011
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“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.”

And the rest, as they say, is photographic history.

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