The top Royal photographer Arthur Edwards has talked about the huge significance of the visit of Prince Charles to Mullaghmore in Co Sligo.
Mr Edwards, who at 74 is still a staff photographer for the Sun newspaper, took the picture on this webpage of the prince and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at the harbour where Lord Mountbatten’s boat was moored before it was blown up.
Before being shown the harbour by people who were present on the day of the 1979 IRA attack, the Royal couple got a warm reception from hundreds of well-wishers.
Mr Edwards told the News Letter: “It was brilliant, he did everything, walked the whole length of the crowd there, he was just delighted, the welcome he got. Everybody said welcome, welcome, welcome, to Mullaghmore.”
Mr Edwards had a heightened sense of the importance of Wednesday’s visit, because he had taken photographs of Lord Mountbatten.
“I went to his home, photographed him with his dog, photographed him with the prince, there was a picture of mine in the Sun [on Wednesday] of him with Prince Charles and Prince Philip,” he said. “Lord Mountbatten was a great mentor to the prince.”
Mr Edwards has been present at many notable points in the lives of the Royals. He spoke to the News Letter at both the Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 and the visit to Belfast weeks before by Prince William and his then bride to be, Kate Middleton.
Mr Edwards, a Londoner whose wife is from Cork, said that the Queen’s Irish tour was a highlight of his career. His main regret about that visit was that tight security meant that public access to the Queen was constrained and there was little opportunity for an outpouring of enthusiasm.
“On a world tour it is the cheering crowds that make it,” he said at the time. “I know that most Irish people would give her a massive welcome.”
He also covered what he described as the “sensational” first visit of Prince Charles to the Republic in 1995, which paved the way for the Queen’s later visit.
Mr Edwards made earlier trips to Northern Ireland, including covering Princess Diana on a visit to Hillsborough.
He said that he considered the visit of William and Kate (later to become the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) to Belfast “a drop-everything job” because it was “the start of a whole new era”.
It was only the young couple’s third official visit, but they were familiar with the countries of their first two visits – Wales and Scotland – so Ulster was a step into the unknown.