Posted: April 14th, 2021
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
I have my own unique and very personal memory of Prince Philip. I am probably the only photographer, certainly the only one I know, to get Prince Philip’s picture on a biscuit tin!
Fifty years ago it was the custom before a royal tour that special pictures were issued to mark the occasion. In 1969 the Queen asked that the pictures for her 1970 tour to New Zealand be taken by a New Zealand photographer, and I was asked by the NZ High Commission to do the job – a great honour.
Back then I used to tell people that the “best” Kiwi photographer in London was busy, so they asked me. I suspect, in fact, that at that time I was the only Kiwi photographer in London!
The tour in 1970 commemorated the 200th anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage, and was also the first time Charles and Anne visited New Zealand, making it the first (royal) family tour. My pictures were a great success, although somewhat formal as was the style then for royal pictures.
In 1971 my wife and I were back in Auckland to see my parents. My Mum told me she had a surprise present for me, and gave me a Woolworths’ biscuit tin with one of my pictures displayed on the lid. Although the tin is a bit battered and worn now, it still has pride of place in our kitchen. I am as proud of my biscuit tin as I am of my Mirror photographic awards, and a double-page spread in “Life” magazine.
I suggested to the Mirror that this was a good memory of Prince Philip that involved the Mirror, but they seemed uninterested. However, the New Zealand Herald, where I began my newspaper career more than 60 years ago, liked it. Similarly the Otago Daily Times, the local newspaper for Invercargill (at the bottom of the South Island) where I was born.
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