By Kathy Bryant
As I watched Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, I was transported back to May 16, 1991, when I was photographed Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as they toured Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home near Alexandria, Va. I was there to photograph them as the Queen unveiled a plaque dedicating the newly restored wharf.
As the day dawned, I was extremely nervous — but thrilled beyond words — to photograph the Queen. I dressed up in a fashionable outfit, but wore Reeboks, so I would not fall when I walked backwards in front of them the 100 feet or so toward the wharf. I was the only person on staff that day cleared by the Secret Service and British Embassy to walk wherever I wanted.
Three of my photographs are on display at Mount Vernon, two in the Visitor Center and one at the wharf. All three belong to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.
One might easily wonder how I was honored to receive such an incredibly important photography job; it fell into my lap through a series of fortunate connections. I was the photographer with National Colonial Farm in Accokeek, Md., which provides a bucolic and protected view from Mount Vernon across the Potomac River. Years earlier, I had met Neil Horstman, resident director of Mount Vernon, when he helped me choose photographs for an exhibit at the site. As plans were being made for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Mount Vernon, he offered me the job.
Years earlier, and coincidentally on my birthday, I was at the same University of Maryland football game that the Queen attended; my seat was on the 50-yard line, just several rows behind hers. Also coincidentally, my mother’s funeral occurred at the same time as Princess Diana’s. My sentimental ties to the British royal family run deep.