The royal junket is over. Will and Kate blew out of New York on Wednesday morning after spending three activity-packed days. And right in the thick of it all — a cyclone of fervent fans, shivering press and NYPD cops that followed the couple’s every move — was WWD photographer Steve Eichner, documenting the circuit. Here, he shares his unique perspective from the front lines.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the Carlyle Hotel.
3:07 p.m.: Heading to the Carlyle with my press badge, my zoom lens and my ladder. I find a spot in the press pen, stationed across the street. It’s freezing cold — 28 degrees —burrrrr!
3:44 p.m.: Barry Diller rides by on his bicycle and stops to take a look. Is it a coincidence, or is he checking out the scene? Maybe he’s a big Will and Kate fan?
4:11 p.m.: “I’ve been here since 10 a.m.,” the New York Post photog exclaims. (Kate and Will aren’t due to arrive until 5 p.m.)
4:15 p.m.: A woman with a life-size cardboard cutout of Will and Kate roams around for photo ops.
4:16 p.m.: A bomb-squad truck pulls up and parks right in front of the hotel. Hope he ain’t staying there.
4:32 p.m.: A cop is going around handing out hand-warmers to other cops. “What about us?” a photographer inquires. Seconds later, we’re all given a set. Sweet relief!
4:43 p.m.: “They’re running late,” the deputy commissioner of public information (DCPI) says. Just the thing I don’t want to hear…
5:47 p.m.: Police scurry. Barricades are moved into position, and the motorcade rounds the corner. Fans scream as the future king and queen arrive. I snap William buttoning his jacket as he gets out of the SUV. The car is blocking Kate, so I hold the camera over my head and do a Hail Mary.
The duchess visits the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem.
8:37 a.m.: I arrive and get a great spot, right in front of a big press riser. Perfect!
9:16 a.m.: “We’re going to do a sweep. Leave all of your gear on the ground and exit the area. Once the dogs have sniffed for bombs, you can come back,” barks a Secret Service-looking dude wearing a Burberry scarf.
9:18 a.m.: “Can I see your credential?” the Burberry-scarf guy asks me. I show him my NYC press badge. “No, where’s your official royal credential?” he insists. “I don’t have one,” I whimper. “You can’t be here. You can go over there,” he says, pointing across the street.
10:22 a.m.: A friendly shutterbug takes orders and makes a Dunkin’ run. Ahhh, hot chocolate — I needed that. It’s so coooooooold!
10:40 a.m.: First lady Chirlane McCray arrives in a purple coat and stands outside, waiting to greet Kate. “She left the Carlyle! She’s wearing a black-and-white coat,” someone says as they check the Twittersphere.
11:00 a.m.: The screaming sirens and parade of SUVs arrives right on time. Chirlane and Kate chat for a second, their backs to my original “official press” position. Then, they turn and wave in my direction. Got it!!!
11:17 a.m.: On my way back downtown I realize: Darn, I forgot my ladder in Harlem!
11:17: The duchess lunches at the British Consul’s residence.
12:12 p.m.: I decide to set up with the fans on the corner, instead of with the press across the street.
12:43 p.m.: Kate arrives in 4-inch heels. Walking in, she turns, looks right into my camera and waves. Click! Click! Click! Nailed it.
2:40 p.m.: We wait to get Kate coming out. My editor overheard a security guard tell a fan that the duchess will be shopping at Bergdorf’s this afternoon. We run over.
2:56 p.m.: Hilarious. We’re wandering around Bergdorf’s trying to look inconspicuous. I have a ladder over my shoulder and a huge zoom lens, and I’m all bundled up. I ditch my ladder behind a mirror near Alexander McQueen on the third floor.
3:04 p.m.: Up to the executive floor to find Linda Fargo. She’s not in, but we get her assistant. “We cannot confirm or deny that Kate is coming,” she says, citing customer confidentiality. “But you are welcome to stay, just in case.” My editor takes that as a wink-wink hint to stay.
4:07 p.m.: I’m starving. I go down to a food cart across the street, so I can still see if Kate comes. Just as I’m handed my gyro, a police car comes racing up, screeching to a halt at the store’s side door. I drop my sandwich and run over. “What’s going on?” I ask the doorman. “Oh, a guy was shoplifting, and he’s fighting our store security.” Wish Miss Middleton was here to see this…
5:44 p.m.: “They NEVER have this much security back home,” a British pap, also stationed outside the store, says. “Not even during parliament, when they have all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Barclays Center
7:44 p.m.: I arrive at the game. Since I have no official access, WWD purchased a ticket for me. My seat’s on the lower level, near the court, and I’m packing a point-and-shoot camera with a superzoom lens, purchased for this shoot. Fingers crossed!
8:01 p.m.: On the way to my seat, I ask an usher, “Where do Jay Z and Beyoncé sit?” “Look for the gold chain,” he tells me.
8:07 p.m.: I spot Jay and Bae. My zoom is powerful — got some very clear pics, even though I’m a basketball court away.
9:02 p.m.: There they are: The royals sit courtside. My seat doesn’t afford me a clear frontal shot. Gotta move. “Excuse me… Excuse me…” I make my way through the seats.
9:19 p.m.: Pop royalty Beyoncé and Jay Z cross the court to meet Will and Kate, real royalty. Surreal moment in time. Glad I was there to document it. Well, sort of. They were so surrounded, I shot off of the Jumbotron. Swish!!!
9:22 p.m.: Kate and Will look like they are having so much fun, just eating popcorn and laughing like normal folks.
The duke and duchess visit the 9/11 Memorial and tour The Door
9:21 a.m.: Raining cats and dogs. Cold and wet, we stand waiting for the shot. Ughhh…
Nice mood pic of the trade center with clouds.
11:21 a.m.: Surprised by the lack of onlookers, photog Dennis Van Tine says, “There are more fans at the Kim Kardashian thing down the block.”
11:27 a.m.: The duchess enters wearing a beautiful pink coat, and the overcast day saturates the color. She looks over her shoulder into my lens. Great composition, with all the umbrellas around her. One of my best photographs, ever!
The NeueHouse reception
12:17 p.m.: Barricades on both sides of the entryway. I choose my position on one side.
12:33 p.m.: Fake out! Kate and Will pull up behind me, at the back door. I whip around and run over. Snap-snap-snap…
The duke visits the Empire State Building
2:56 p.m.: “Anyone have a flash I can borrow?” “Sure, Tony,” I say to a shutterbug I know, giving him my backup. “I owe you.”
3:17 p.m.: The prince arrives, and we shoot as he breezes in. The guard is holding the SUV door open, and we anticipate the princess to follow… The DCPI cop says no, adding, “They just have to leave it ajar until he is secure, in case he has to make a quick getaway.”
The St. Andrews fund-raiser at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
6:32 p.m.: My editor in chief is hoping we get a great photograph of the couple for tomorrow’s page one. I’m here, scoping out the best spots to get the shot. Thank God, there’s no tent on the stairs of the museum — maybe we can get something if they just stop on the steps and wave. The pressure’s on.
6:41 p.m.: “Do you have an extra ladder?” I ask Tony, the photog I lent a flash to earlier today. “Yes,” he says and runs back to his car. Wait, I recognize that ladder — it’s mine! The one I forgot in Harlem yesterday. Full circle!
6:59 p.m.: The cop lights round the corner. It’s go time. They’re out of the car and climbing the stairs — with their back to us. Loud cries go out from the press pit. “Will!!! Kate!!!!” They turn around at the same time and give us the royal wave that we have been craving! Got my page one!!!!!!!