Royal photographer shares memories of 'fun' and 'highly intelligent' Queen

A former naval officer who became a royal photographer has shared his memories of the Queen, describing her as a 'highly intelligent' woman who 'didn't miss a trick'.

Tom Suddes who is from Cornwall, became an official photographer on the Royal Yacht Britannia between 1976 and 1979.

His images were published around the world in newspapers and magazines and he even once sat at the Queen's right-hand side while they had dinner together.

Tom, who now lives in Helston, said getting the job as royal photographer 'was a real dream'.

He said: "Not only Her Majesty but also all the members of the royal family [were] very professional when it comes to the camera and the different circumstances we found ourselves in.

"There was always a smile, there was always a moment where you can capture what was going on. In short, she was just very professional."

The Queen with members of the Royal Navy. Credit: Tom Suddes

Reflecting on his time with the Queen, he said she was "fun, highly intelligent, sharp and didn’t miss a trick".

But despite the Queen's charm and professionalism, Tom said he was "really, really nervous" when he first took her photo during a state visit in Finland in 1976.

"I can’t remember taking it and I know I was shaking, but the result I was very pleased with so naval training did not prepare me for it – you just rise to the occasion", he said.

"Nothing prepares you for that, not for the first one."

But Tom once found himself eating with the Queen during a private dinner.

He said: "I was lucky enough to have served on the Royal Yacht twice and the second time I went back as an officer, and on that occasion, most of us had the opportunity of having dinner with the Royal Family, with the Queen in particular.

"And one particular night I sat right next to her on her right-hand side for a private dinner with the rest of the officers, with the Duke of Edinburgh and the ladies in waiting, and it was fun, it was really good."

However, one of Tom's favourite memories is of a photo he took of the Queen as she prepared to fly on the famous supersonic aircraft, Concorde, for the first time.

Tom Suddes' favourite photo was one he took of the Queen and Prince Philip shortly before they flew on Concorde for the first time. Credit: Tom Suddes

He said his favourite photo is "the picture I took of Concorde in 1977 when we’re just about to go into Barbados".

"The Queen and Duke were flying home for the first time on Concorde. We wired it back to the UK and it made most of the papers across the world," he added.

Looking back on his four years of photographing the Queen during the 1970s, Tom said he was "sad to go" but found the period "pretty tiring".

He said: "During the day you’re taking pictures and during the night you’re developing and printing, so certainly on royal duty and it was pretty demanding.

"And after four years I just felt that I had probably done it and it was time to move onto something else."

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