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King Charles' official coronation pictures released: Meet the man who captured the photos

Official coronation portraits of King Charles released
King Charles and Queen Camilla pose for official portraits 03:04

London — The official photos taken for King Charles III and Queen Camilla's coronation ceremony were being released Monday by Britain's royal family. The first of the photos, published on the royals' official Twitter page, shows the king, who was formally crowned Saturday, seated in ceremonial robes with his Sovereign's Sceptre in one and the Sovereign's Orb in the other.

Britain's King Charles coronation - official photo
Britain's King Charles is pictured in full regalia in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, London. The king is wearing the Robe of Estate, the Imperial State Crown and is holding the Sovereign's Orb and Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross. Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/Handout via REUTERS

As the official photographer for the coronation, Hugo Burnand was entrusted with capturing the portraits of the royal couple that will forever symbolize the beginning of Charles' reign. But Burnand told CBS News the weight of that responsibility would be the last thing on his mind as he looked through his camera to frame up the royals.

In an interview before Saturday's coronation ceremony at London's ancient Westminster Abbey, Hugo told CBS News that one secret behind pulling off such a monumental task, is good old fashioned personal relationships — such as his own, with the king and queen.

"Deep down, it's about emotion, and to get the right emotion, I have to have the right emotion," Burnand told CBS News. "If you're thinking too much your mind is distracted, and you can't connect with the person."

Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla in their coronation attire and crowns
Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla are pictured in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, London, May 8, 2023.  Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/Handout via REUTERS

He stressed that focusing on the enormity of the task at hand simply wouldn't "work for me."

"I remain true to myself and my relationship with him through the camera and trust that, historically, that has worked," he said.

Burnand has spent years photographing Britain's high society elite, plying his trade at events and parties for Tatler magazine. Rubbing shoulders so frequently with the upper classes eventually led him to photograph Camilla Parker Bowles — back when her only title was "Miss."

Queen Camilla's official coronation photo, wearing Queen Mary's Crown
Britain's Queen Camilla is pictured in The Green Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace, London, wearing Queen Mary's Crown and Robe of Estate, on May 8, 2023. Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/Handout via REUTERS

His reputation as a royal photographer was cemented when he was asked to photograph then-Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding in 2005. It was a career-defining job he nearly had to turn down, as he was in South America at the time with his family and all their passports were stolen.

Burnand described bringing in his own mother, also a photographer, as his "number one assistant" for the royal couple's big day. He said the circumstances around the wedding shoot ended up proving vital to firming up his connection with the royal family.

"From that moment on, we've had a relationship which is more than just photographer," he said.

"So, when you asked me, 'What does it look like to look through the lens and see King Charles III?' Obviously, I take notice of what I'm looking at," Burnand said, becoming visibly emotional. "We've worked together with this rather nice relationship for such a long time that I see someone I know already well."

Britain's King Charles' coronation - royal family portrait
Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla are pictured with "working" members of the royal family: the Duke of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Gloucester, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Princess Royal, King Charles, Queen Camilla, the Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, the Duchess of Edinburgh, Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy, the Duke of Edinburgh. Picture date: Monday May 8, 2023. Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/Handout via  Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/Handout via REUTERS

Building trust with the royals also earned him the opportunity to photograph the wedding of Prince William and Kate, the now-Prince and Princess of Wales, in 2011. One of the pictures he's most proud of captured the newlyweds surrounded by the bridesmaids and pageboys in playful, relaxed poses, during an otherwise extremely formal event.

"It is the real characters of every individual that has come through in that moment," Burnand said proudly. "What you see in that picture is real life."

But as important as his personal connection with his subjects might be, another secret to his success as a royal photographer is Burnand's meticulous planning.

Keen to never keep his A-list clientele waiting, he practices every step of a photoshoot by holding stopwatch-timed dress rehearsals, going so far as to get staff to step in and play each of the royals. The goal, he said, is to be prepared for every eventuality and keep the process running as smoothly as possible. He even brings spares of every single piece of equipment that could fail.

"We've even practiced putting in the spare [light] bulb," he said, "just to see how I would react and how it would affect the timing of the whole thing."

Bernard said knowing when he's captured the images he really wants is something he just has to feel. He said he's found that he naturally snaps is fingers when he feels he's got what he was looking for — and that was the moment he was looking forward to the most ahead of coronation day.

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