When the Queen was snapped 'giggling' at Prince Philip

By Phil Coomes
Picture editor

  • Published
The Queen and the DukeImage source, Chris Young / PA Media

Through his many years of service the Duke of Edinburgh attended thousands of official events with the Queen. Mostly they would work smoothly beside each other. But on one occasion, a swarm of bees derailed the normal efficient-running of events.

Photographer Chris Young, working for the Press Association at the time, was there to witness the moment and capture it on camera.

Young was the only photographer at the event, a review of the Grenadier Guards' elite Queen's Company regiment at Windsor Castle in 2003. He had moved away from the spot he had been allocated, to a better vantage point, and waited with guests until the Queen emerged. As colonel of the regiment, the duke was standing in full uniform, as he prepared to accompany Her Majesty.

It was at this point Young became aware of a swarm of bees.

"I got lucky," says Young, recalling the event 18 years later. "I recognised that it was a human moment. She was giggling like a little girl and he was laughing too."

"I thought the reaction from both of them was pretty unique.

"Some of the guests were unsure as to whether they should move, but eventually everyone had to beat a retreat."

A royal beekeeper was swiftly summoned to sort things out.

Image source, Chris Young / PA Media

While Young was delighted to catch the royal couple off-guard, he was keenly aware of the responsibility as well. As a so-called pool photographer, whose pictures would be syndicated, Young was the only journalist present with a camera.

"It can be nerve wracking... if you mess it up no one gets a picture of the event."

Young filed the photographs to the picture desk where he worked and was about to board a train back to London when his editor called to say there had been a lot of interest. Could he send any other images he had taken?

So Young retreated to a nearby cafe to transmit more pictures of the moment the royal couple were surprised by a swarm of bees.

The main picture made the front pages of a number of newspapers the following day. It was a rare, candid exchange of glances between the couple in public.

Image source, Chris Young / PA Media
Image source, Chris Young / PA Media
Image source, Chris Young / PA Media
Image source, Chris Young / PA Media
Image source, Chris Young / PA Media