As many of you know, I was lucky enough to attend several engagements of the Royal Visit of Canada in 2016 as a member of the press. I was able to see, first hand, how absolutely crazy the crowds get in advance of Will & Kate’s arrival. As I was doing some Spring cleaning of my hard drive lately, I noticed that there was a video I took of William & Kate arriving at the ISSBC engagement in Vancouver that I never shared.
The video reminded me not only of why the excitement of a Royal Visit is palpable, but I thought that I would share my – admittedly limited – experience as a member of the press pack to share what the experience is like for those who have not seen the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge up close.
Here is the video I took. While definitely not the highest quality (and don’t bother turning on your speakers… There is no sound) it captures how close I was to Kate and the excitement of the event.
Huge Security Presence
There are road blockades, police, security personnel – not to mention personal protection officers for the Duke and Duchess – who ensure that the areas are safe for the royals. When William and Kate arrived at the Immigrant Services Society engagement in Vancouver (where the video is from), they and their motorcade were escorted by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Dignitaries At The Waiting
One of the things I found most interesting at this particular event is that it was the first engagement of the day where the Duke and Duchess would partner with Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau.
Normally, the Prime Minister of a country gets a pretty grand welcome himself, but in this case he and his wife were patiently waiting on the sidewalk like the rest of us for Will & Kate to arrive.
Royal Photographers & Journalists Work Hard
If you watch the video above, you’ll see how the royal journalists and photographers move so quickly to catch not only the best angles of a photo, but doing so respecting the wishes and the security needs of the engagement. It leads to photographers like Samir Hussein being able to capture this level of detail from Kate’s dress, clutch and purse.
There were probably three or four dozen members of the press at this engagement, who were amongst some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of working with. The journalists themselves are quite the well-oiled machine! When we, behind a screen, are (im)patiently waiting for photos or videos, they are often running a lifestream on one device while trying to take photographs on another and simultaneously drafting their copy for their publication in their heads. Oh, and for the record, they definitely look to bloggers when pieces aren’t identified by Kensington Palace’s PR teams!
Kate’s Ability to Block It Out
While I was in no way, shape or form doubting that Kate would be the definition of poised perfection, I was still mind-boggled at witnessing it live. There are throngs of people yelling “Kate! Kate! Kate, over here, Kate!” and thousands of cameras flashing in her face. The engagement where I took the video was a “private” engagement with no walkabout, so it’s maybe a little difficult to appreciate the size of the crowds that were gathered even for that from the video, but the picture below from her arrival in Vancouver makes it pretty clear.
The only moment of imperfection I saw from the Duchess was when she first emerged from the car and had to flatten out the back of her McQueen dress which had obviously crinkled on the car ride over. But she smoothed it out as best she could as quickly as possible in order to head over to meet the Trudeaus – and be captured in this infamous shot.
Pretending the Press isn’t There
Even though we were three or four feet away from the Duchess, there was absolutely no eye contact from her with any member of the press and she acted as though we weren’t even there. I was initially shocked by that, but realized that it’s likely both driven by her and William’s dislike of the Press intrusion on their lives as well as the necessity of living her life and pretending they aren’t there.
Kate is very Soft-Spoken
I was close enough to hear Kate’s polished voice speak very quietly to the Dignitaries she was meeting, but when you compare her voice with William’s, or either of the Trudeaus that were present, it was absolutely several decibels lower.
So while one Royal Tour – and not even a complete one at that – does not make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, it did offer me a glimpse into the other side of the royal reporting world than my own. I look forward to hopefully covering several more in the future!