For a Non-Royalist like me: The week started with the St Andrews Press Office Director offering me a press accreditation to join the ‘snappers’ at Prince William’s Graduation (23 July 2005). How often does that happen? Well this would most likely be my only chance at pointing my camera at anything Royal, as I am not a stalker by nature. By Wednesday I was surrounded with the ‘real’ paparazzi with monstrous lenses that left me feeling incredibly intimidated. I kept my cameras in my bag until there was a sign of action. I was allocated to be in Press Area 1, which was directly opposite Younger Hall, where the graduation was to take place. I arrived early-ish but soon realised that the duck tape on the tar were areas claimed by the various media, earlier on. I quietly shifted away from the imaginary ‘no-trespasses’ area and found my own piece of real estate.
Well, I was positioned between BBC and ITN Video cameramen. At least they had ‘normal’ looking equipment and I could safely tuck myself between them without feeling too out of place when the moment arrived to show and shoot. The waiting game began, we put on sunscreen, then the jersey came out as the sun disappeared. Dreariness set in and we all got acquainted with our neighbours. Then suddenly we were hit by a wave of excitement and in an instant everyone was trigger ready Charles and Camilla arrived, but between all the ‘royal helpers’ and the royals’ car we only really got to see Charles for a fraction of a second as he turned around and waved. He was ushered into Younger Halls’s dark interior. ‘Is this it?’. Well at least I don’t have to get ‘the shot’. My fellow camera-types weren’t happy. Another chance: All cameras took aim as the Queen and Duke of Edinbrugh arrived. This was worse they too were swallowed up by the Hall’s doors in seconds. Well, at least the Queen has a nice car with a pretty flag. Almost two hours later the doors flung open and the Graduation Procession began.
The graduands streamed out, camera’s poised and then as a brunette walked out, I heard ‘That’s her’, they were referring to Prince William’s girlfriend (Kate Middleton). Motor-drives ablaze. Soon thereafter William emerged. He did not look up, darn. The press wanted more so they convinced Clarence House representative to move us to Press Area 2. William, Charles and Camilla were scheduled to do a walkabout and this would be the spot to be. We were given five minutes to move, so cameras, lenses, tipods, monopods, ladders and some oversized photographers did the big ‘run’. This was a free for all, no pre-marked spots. I swiftly moved pass them with my light-weight equipment. We must’ve looked really funny running down the street with all the onlookers peering at this cumbersome lot. Once settled in our new ‘home’ we did the wait once again. I realised then how fast the clouds move in this part of the world. Jerseys off and on with the peak-cap, some more sun block and then, back with the jersey. All that was forgotten as the crowed roared at the first sign of William. I was so frustrated as William worked the crowd because he had his back to us. This is when I realised how crass the photographers can be, they shouted at William to turn around, some continuously shouted out, ‘Excuse me sir’. William resisted the temptation, only for a split second did he glance at us, and realised we were not worth looking at. Ah, but to my left there was Charles and getting closer by the second. Very thrilling, I was caught up in the whole thing. Pleased that I finally did not need a mammoth lens to get a close-up pic. The lenses relaxed as the royals moved out of sight. Then once again the more boisterous of photographers demanded to be moved to yet another location while Charles, Camilla and William went into the police station which was conveniently situated a short distance from the graduation hall. Yes, we were on the move again. This time, in front of the police station, in Press Area 3. While we waited the Queen gave us her royal wave as she cruised on by in her over-polished chauffeur driven car. The crowed roared and everyone waved back. Finally, after thanking the police for doing such a great job of looking after William, one last crowd good-bye and the happy family slipped into their car. The show was over, the crowd dispersed. It was 1:15pm and my legs ached after standing for almost five hours, but I was floating. I had just had the opportunity of a lifetime, well not as memorable as meeting Nelson Mandela but close, for a non-royalist.