Catching a real-life glimpse of the royals is rare for many, but it’s all in a days work for renowned photographer Tim Rooke. Indeed, the gifted snapper has witnessed some of the royal family’s biggest milestone events over the years — and with that kind of experience, you’d be hard pressed not to have some incredibly rare inside knowledge of the UK’s most famous family.
Rooke has travelled to over 110 countries and captured some of the royals’ most historical moments since becoming the official royal photographer for Rex by Shutterstock in 1990. From Princess Diana’s final weeks, to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement shoot, it would be safe to say he’s seen it all.
Now, as a very exciting installment looms for the house of Windsor, Rooke has shared his thoughts on Meghan and Harry’s choice to depart from the traditional hospital photo shoot, and its significance in marking a new chapter for the royals.
Proving his intimate knowledge of Meghan and Harry, Rooke’s also noted some key differences in photographing the Sussexes in comparison to their royal counterparts Prince William and Kate Middleton — and what he has revealed might surprise you.
Keep scrolling as we speak exclusively to Rooke on his wealth of royal knowledge, from royal babies right back to the days of Diana.
On Photographing Meghan and Harry
Rooke tells Australian Women’s Weekly that there is no doubt in his mind of the love and affection Meghan and Harry have with each other. “They are very naturally affectionate with each other and it’s lovely to see,” he explains. “I’ve been lucky enough to photograph them many times now, and each time the best photographs I get of them [are] when they don’t even realize they’re being photographed together.”
In fact, Rooke says that the pair’s natural connection is so evident that they show up William and Kate! “We don’t often see Prince William and [Kate] holding hands, but the Sussexes do it if cameras are there or not,” he says.
The passionate photographer followed Harry and Meghan on their whirlwind tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga in 2018, where they seamlessly connected with people from all walks of life. “It was great to see them interact with each other so lovingly. They’re such an authentic couple, and every time I photograph them you can sense the love and affection they have for each other,” he explained.
On the Royal Baby’s Official Photo Debut
With baby Sussex due to arrive any day now, royal fans were initially caught by surprise after learning that the couple was choosing to depart from the official hospital photoshoot tradition, as had been the case for Diana and Kate in previous years. But Rooke explained that their choice shouldn’t be entirely unexpected.
“While it is out of the ordinary for a royal couple to not have an official photo call, it’s important to note that the Sussexes are held to different traditions than the Cambridges,” he said. “Prince Harry is now sixth in line to the throne and as such has more flexibility when it comes to ‘breaking’ traditions like the royal baby photo call.”
And Rooke is convinced that the royal birth might mark the start of a new age for the royal family, where an increased use of social media will allow greater communication between royals and their fans. “It’s now likely that the baby will be announced on Instagram! It’ll be a change for older and less social media savvy royal fans, but I’m sure Harry and Meghan will see thousands of comments from supporters congratulating the couple,” he said.
On What it’s Like to Photograph William and Kate
While William and Kate might not be as affectionate as Harry and Meghan in public, that’s not to say the pair hasn’t also shared some sweet moments together over the years. Rooke recalls that one of his favorite moments between the now-parents was when they visited Bhutan in 2016. Kate, wearing a traditional dress, attempted to perform archery with William to various degrees of success!
“It was a very natural moment filled with laughter. One of the best parts of my job is that I get access to the royals when they go overseas and generally that’s when they seem the most relaxed,” Rooke explains.
On Photographing Princess Diana
Pictures of Princess Diana are held dear to this day by royal fans the world over — and you’ll find that many of them, particularly those taken in the 1990s — were captured by Rooke. In fact, one of Rooke’s photographs became renowned following her tragic death because of one of the subjects he captured with the late princess: her butler Paul Burrell.
“I’ll say in advance the photo is not one my best. I took it at Sarajevo Airport in Bosnia, just a few weeks before she passed, and I was initially annoyed that her butler was in the picture as it was always best to have shots of her on her own,” he explains. “However, after Paul Burrell went to trial, this picture was one of the only pictures of the two of them together and it became one of my most published pictures in 2002.”
On Photographing Other Royals
Aside from Harry, Meghan, William, Kate, and Diana, Rooke has also had the honor of capturing some amazing moments with other members of the House of Windsor — Queen Elizabeth for one. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is also “great and has lots of time for us as photographers,” according to Rooke. “She’ll always look around to see where the photographers are and stop for a picture. She knows we’re just trying to do our jobs!”
Another joyful subject is the Countess of Wessex, who also makes an effort to look around for the photographers. “She was in PR before she married Prince Edward so obviously she understands the value of a photograph,” Rooke adds.
But out of all the royals, there’s one moment that truly stands out above the rest for Rooke. “One of my favorite moments as a royal photographer was with Prince Andrew when he was made an Honorary Chief in the South Pacific — wearing a grass skirt doing a hula dance,” he says. “We don’t always get pictures that are different and lighthearted so I love it when these opportunities come about.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.