Palace Tried to Stop Queen and Prince Andrew Photos, Says Photographer

Queen Elizabeth II's heavily criticized decision to let Prince Andrew walk her into a memorial service was only captured in still pictures after a photographer disregarded Palace instructions.

The Duke of York was seen escorting his 95-year-old mother to her seat in Westminster Abbey in the same month he settled a sexual abuse lawsuit brought by Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre with no admission of liability.

He denies the allegations.

The moment caused a public backlash, but the world's media were nearly left without the still images that fuelled their coverage, according to the accredited photographer who captured the moment on March 29.

Richard Pohle, staff photographer for The Times, was taking pictures on behalf of Britain's press through a system known as the "royal rota," which sees different outlets take it in turns to cover events and share the material produced.

He described in an article for the newspaper how palace aides initially told him not to photograph the monarch until she had already taken her seat, which would have meant he missed the key moment Andrew was by his mother's side.

BBC camera's were broadcasting the event live, so the world would still have known what took place. But the coverage, both online and in print, would have lacked the high-res images that Pohle captured.

Queen Walked Into Memorial by Andrew
Richard Pohle said he had to disregard the instructions of press officers to photograph Queen Elizabeth II arriving at Westminster Abbey accompanied by Prince Andrew on March 29, 2022. The prince's role triggered a backlash. Richard Pohle - WPA Pool/Getty Images

He wrote: "Last week in Westminster Abbey I was with two smiling and pleasant press officers from Buckingham Palace, both of whom I had worked with before.

"They told me I would not be able to photograph the entrance of the Queen until, basically, they said I could.

"To an outsider this may seem reasonable. 'What's the problem,' you may ask, 'the Queen should have some privacy in her advanced age.'

"I agree, but when the BBC is broadcasting the entire event to the world I think I should be able to take a picture as the only official photographer."

Pohle said he pushed back against the decision but was told there were to be "no pictures until she was seated."

He added: "And that's when the news filtered through to us: the Queen would be escorted to her seat by the Duke of York. This changed everything.

"'I absolutely need to photograph this,' I said. The arrival of the Queen was now the major news event. I could see them wavering but they repeated that the no picture order 'came from the top' and that 'it wasn't up to them.'

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"I pointed out that the BBC was carrying the whole event live. Would the palace order them not to film? I was responsible for still photography for the entire media and would be in a hell of a lot of trouble if there was blanket TV coverage of the Queen openly showing support for Prince Andrew, but no photographs.

"This seemed to have an effect, as one of the press officers went off to make a phone call."

Pohle described how a compromise was drawn up in which he would be allowed to photograph the queen arriving from a set position over the top of the pews where guests were seated.

However, as the Monarch arrived, guests at the service of thanksgiving for Prince Philip's life all rose out of respect for Britain's head of state, blocking his view.

The seasoned photographer wrote: "Desperation dictated I do something quickly. As the choir started up I jumped off my footstool and moved quickly to the aisle between the rows of seats opposite where the Queen would walk.

"Suddenly moving from an official position while on a royal rota is the most cardinal of sins. I brushed past the press officer and could feel a hand reach out to try and stop me but I rushed past and crouched in the centre of the aisle.

"The Queen entered and I raised my camera briefly seeing the two of them before they disappeared behind the row of clergy walking in front of them.

"The Queen was smiling and walked very briskly, I thought, but my view of Andrew was blocked by the clergy ahead of them.

"I waited until the clergy reached the end of the aisle and turned sharply to the left and the picture opened up. I got the picture. I knew it would be the main picture from the ceremony that the news outlets were looking for. I went back to my official position passing the frowning press officer and whispered an apology."