King Charles’ coronation portrait ‘no fantasy’ as photographer reveals ‘one of the rules’ he had to give up on

King Charles' coronation portrait photographer has revealed intriguing details about this iconic picture - including his abandoned 'ambition'

King Charles’ coronation portrait details revealed. Seen here is the King on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on his coronation day
(Image credit: Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

King Charles’ coronation portrait was “no fantasy” as photographer Hugo Burnand revealed “one of the rules” he had to give up on. 

Growing up as one of the late Queen Elizabeth ’s children, His Majesty has become accustomed to being photographed but his first official portrait since his coronation is especially iconic. Taken by Hugo Burnand at Buckingham Palace, it shows King Charles sitting in the Throne Room in his ceremonial robes, holding the historic orb and scepter. Hugo took several other significant snaps of the royals on the day too, including one where Princess Anne’s coronation portrait position next to her older brother was apparently “no accident”. 

But King Charles’ coronation portrait reportedly had a very specific focus of its own. Getting candid with OK!, the photographer explained simply, “That is the Throne Room. That is the King. That is who you’re getting, there’s no fantasy.”

He also compared his very “real” work with the stunning official coronation portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth taken by Cecil Beaton in 1953. Describing the then-25-year-old Queen as a “starlet”, he suggested that he approached King Charles’ coronation portrait in such a way as to show his “dedication”. 

“It’s very different from Cecil Beaton, who had the 25-year-old starlet who was beautiful and you could photograph in any light from any angle and would literally sparkle,” he declared. “I wanted to show you the real man at the end of a really long day, still showing his dedication to duty.”

However, whilst Hugo seems to be delighted with the final result of his hard-work there was apparently one regret he had when it came to King Charles’ official portrait.

The photographer shared that “one of the rules” he’d set himself was to try and capture his own reflection in His Majesty’s orb but abandoned this in favor of being “authentic”.

He said, “I had to get myself in the job. But I took the shot on quite a long lens and I was so far away, so I thought, ‘I just have to get over that personal ambition. The only way I can get in there is by cheating.’ And the reason why I like these photographs is because they are authentic.”

Whilst Hugo might’ve sadly had to give up on his “ambition” to appear in this important picture, the authenticity and clear message sent by King Charles’ coronation portrait shines through.

Official Wedding group photo of King Charles and Queen Camilla

(Image credit: Photo by Hugo Bernand/ROTA/Anwar Hussein Collection/Getty Images)

He was also said to be incredibly kind to the photographer and his team, as Hugo teared up reflecting upon the King’s response to him.

“The kindness the royal family – and especially King Charles - showed me and my team during this entire shoot was phenomenal. He’s really, really special,” he declared.

The coronation wasn’t the first time the photographer had taken such impactful portraits of the Royal Family. He’d previously taken not only King Charles and Queen Camilla’s wedding pictures but Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding pictures too, showcasing his skill at capturing some of the most iconic royal portraits for the past few decades.  

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!