For centuries, the royal story has been told through portraits. From the carefully worked likenesses in the earliest manuscripts to the famous paintings that created the concept of king and queen through to the modern age when image is caught on camera, the regal tale relies heavily on visuals.
In recent weeks, a new portrait of the Duke of Kent has been taken. It’s the work of top photographer, Rory Lewis, who has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood as well as many of the leading figures in the military. Royal Central spoke to Rory Lewis about working with royalty and telling a story that will last generations.
The new portraits of the Duke of Kent are very striking – what were you trying to convey in the images?
RORY LEWIS: In directing His Royal Highness, I opted for a series of dutiful and solemn expressions. These best represent the Duke who has performed public duties on behalf of his cousin The Queen for over 50 years. My style is reflective of the History Portrait, to capture the status of the subject of H.R.H’s place in history.
How did the portraits come about?
RORY LEWIS: I had photographed the Duke’s brother, H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent. Hearing about my work, His Royal Highness commissioned a portrait at St. James Palace in London.
You’ve photographed many military leaders – how important was the Duke’s long military career in developing the image we see in these portraits?
RORY LEWIS: The Duke holds the rank of Field Marshal which is the highest rank in the British Army since 1736. George II created the rank and only 138 men have attained it. H.R.H. has held the rank of Field Marshal since 11 June 1993. H.R.H is very proud of his service and is pictured in NO.2 Service Dress with his Field Marshal Baton.
What’s it like photographing royalty?
RORY LEWIS: My degree is in History, studying at King’s College, London, and my motivation to become a photographer was to capture History and historical figures. Photography gives me the opportunity to observe history first hand. To photograph a member of the Royal Family is indeed an honour and delightful experience. Being a Royal Portrait photographer has always been a goal.
What do you hope the portraits say to the audience?
RORY LEWIS: My motivation is to educate and create historical portraiture. I hope they will convey my style as well as the subject’s place in history and tradition and present an extraordinary British figure.