Photographing the Queen’s funeral

It was an event we all knew was inevitably coming, as it does to us all one day, but one that my photographer colleagues and I had discussed from time to time and thought about for a while, “what will you do the week the Queen dies?” How would we go about photographing the Queen’s funeral week?

We always knew it’d be a huge event for the country, but also a week which would be perhaps difficult and logistically challenging to report upon, and to photograph. Photo passes and accreditation would be required, vantage points secured, long hours and days with a lot of waiting. It would be a big week from a photographic point of view.

The cortege carrying the coffin of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II drives down the Royal Mile High Street passing St Giles Cathedral, and the Mercat Cross, in Edinburgh, Scotland, 11 September 2022. Copyright © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2022.

Above images are all from Edinburgh in the week of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. Copyright © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2022.

I’d always imagined that on hearing the news I would instantly book a hotel room for a few days later in London, and then travel down, cameras on shoulder to photograph the events and mourning that unfold. But after years of thinking of this it didn’t go that way.

It was hard decision to make, but the fact that the first few days of the week centred on Edinburgh as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin was brought to the capital, and Operation Unicorn (the plan for if the Queen died in Scotland) was in play, meant there was much to photograph here. As the days and events unfolded I began to feel that it was unnecessary to travel south to London.

The Bristol Bar, a favourite with Unionist and Rangers FC supporters, displays a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and flies flags at half mast, as a mark of respect to Her Majesty. Glasgow, Scotland, 9 September 2022. Copyright ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2022.

Above images all from Glasgow in the week of the Queen’s funeral. Copyright © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2022.

Instead I photographed here in Glasgow and Edinburgh, photographs which add to and build upon what I’ve shot before for various stories and projects. Images which hopefully record in some way the week, and continue to help tell the story of our nation. And that one day will join the previous 30-years worth of my photographic archive which is now held at the University of St Andrews.

There is much I can write about photographing the Queen’s funeral week – from gaining access and vantage points, to equipment failures, and the incredibly generous help of strangers – certainly too much for one article here, and it is all still being digested. It is a topic I’ll return to at some point, but for now, some images, a small and quick selection, not even a definitive edit of photographs of the Queen’s funeral week here in Scotland.

Thank you.

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