Royals

Royal photographer Chris Jackson shares fascinating insights from 15 years working with the royal family

A window into the world of Windsor, Chris Jackson is the royal photographer who captures history in the making.

When Prince Harry last toured New Zealand back in 2015, he gave a candid interview admitting how he longed to find a partner to "share the pressure" of royal life with.

Three years on, he's set to bring his new wife, the Duchess of Sussex, to Aotearoa, and royal photographer Chris Jackson tells Woman's Day there's no doubt we'll be seeing a much happier Harry when he and Meghan touch down in Wellington on October 28.

"There's a whole new dynamic to Harry now," tells the London-based photographer, who will be joining the royals on their tour of NZ, Australia, Fiji and Tonga.

"To have someone by your side when you travel to the other side of the world is obviously a wonderful thing and there's no doubt he'll enjoy having Meghan with him. It's someone to bounce ideas off, to share all those amazing experiences with. Everyone works better as a team, and I can imagine Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex are incredibly excited about coming down here again."

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, photographed by Chris Jackson.
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, photographed by Chris Jackson.

It'll be the fifth trip to our shores for Chris, 38, who has spent the past 15 years at the royal family's side, documenting their every move for the world's biggest photo agency, Getty.

From momentous events such as tours, weddings and babies, to the more everyday aspects of royal life, Chris' iconic images have appeared on front pages of newspapers and magazines all over the world. He's travelled to more than 100 countries and burned through five passports in that time.

"I absolutely love my job," he says, speaking to Woman's Day over the phone from London.

"It's challenging and demanding, but it's also an enormous privilege and an honour. I'm creating a unique archive of the British royal family and producing images that will hopefully be looked at for hundreds of years to come."

Now, around 100 of his favourite images have been published in a new book titled Modern Monarchy: The British Royal Family Today.

He's spent a year and a half working on the gorgeous tome, sorting through thousands of photos to select his favourites – including several from tours of Aotearoa.

Prince William, shot by Chris Jackson in New Zealand.
Prince William, shot by Chris Jackson in New Zealand.

"There are definitely a few hongi in there!" he says.

"I'm very proud of the book. I see it as a real celebration of the royal family."

Over the years, Chris has become a trusted royal ally. As well as photographing the public occasions, he's regularly invited to document private moments – most recently producing the portrait of Prince George to mark his fifth birthday.

"You can't help but feel you're part of something very special," Chris reveals of the princes' charity work in Lesotho.
"You can't help but feel you're part of something very special," Chris reveals of the princes' charity work in Lesotho.

He's met world leaders, including former US president Barack Obama, and celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and David Beckham – not to mention countless fascinating members of the public from around the globe.

His amazing job also led him to his wife Natasha Archer, who happens to be the Duchess of Cambridge's PA-turned-stylist.

The jet-setting pair are set to welcome their first child together in December, but unsurprisingly, discretion is key when it comes to both their occupations.

"I can't really say much about that," he laughs politely when asked about his wife's fascinating job.

Natasha, who began as an assistant to Kate and Prince William in 2007, is known to be one of the duchess' closest confidantes – in fact, she was the first non- family member to visit St Mary's Hospital after the birth of Prince Louis in April.

At the time, Chris was stationed outside, ready to snap the newest royal.

Despite suffering nerves before big events like royal weddings, Chris still manages to get shots worthy of the front page.
Despite suffering nerves before big events like royal weddings, Chris still manages to get shots worthy of the front page.

While he's been front row at every major royal event in recent history – including William and Kate's historic 2011 wedding, and Harry and Meghan's nuptials in May – it's the quieter moments that he really loves capturing.

His image of little George playing with bubbles at a children's party in Canada is a particular favourite.

"He has a great character and capturing a candid moment like that is always nice. I just love that childlike excitement on his face." And photographing the Queen is always special, he says.

"She has such an aura and a presence and around her, so I always look forward to photographing her. She's an icon."

But many of Chris' best royal memories come from being in Africa with Harry, who established a charity in 2006 to help vulnerable children in the tiny country of Lesotho.

He travels there often, usually with Chris in tow.

"It's somewhere that Harry feels very much at home, so you get very relaxed images. He is so passionate about the place and the people, and I feel incredibly privileged that I have been able to be a part of that too. Waking up in the mountains in Lesotho is amazing. It's an incredibly beautiful place and you can't help but feel you're part of something very special."

Chris has travelled around the world for his job, including numerous visits to Lesotho with Harry.
Chris has travelled around the world for his job, including numerous visits to Lesotho with Harry.

Chris tells us he has seen the royal family change enormously over the past 15 years and that he has relished witnessing first-hand the rise of the new generation.

"It's certainly a family in transition as the Queen hands over some of her duties to the younger members," he explains.

"While still respecting the traditions, we're seeing the younger members lift some of the formality and embrace a different way of doing things. They're certainly using modern things like social media, which is an incredibly useful tool for connecting with people and getting their messages out. The Queen is an incredible figurehead, but they are certainly driving towards a very modern monarchy."

With Kate and William busier than ever juggling royal duty and their three young children, Chris says Harry and Meghan are happy to be out there at public events as much as possible.

"Like the Queen once said, 'You have to be seen to be believed.' And what's important and integral to the younger ones is to get out there and be seen. Harry and Meghan are very aware of the incredible power they have to shine the light on certain charities and causes, and they're determined to use
that to make a difference."

This year has been a particularly busy one for Chris and the royals – and there's still Princess Eugenie's wedding on October 12, followed by the tour Down Under.

After that, it's back to the UK for Prince Charles' 70th birthday celebrations. Even after 15 years, Chris admits he still suffers nerves before certain big events.

"Sometimes you get the realisation that if you mess up and miss the shot, that's it – you don't get another chance. Preparation is key."

And with just a few months before he becomes a father for the first time, Chris tells us he's hopeful his incredible working life won't change too much.

"Can a baby come on a royal tour? Sure, why not?!"

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