Clicking with the royals: Less flash and lots of casual style
Alexi Lubomirski brought a bit of Hollywood glamour to the famous wedding pictures
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – may be from wildly different worlds, but both, in their own way, will have an acute awareness of the importance of personal branding. Which is why their decision to recruit New York-based photographer Alexi Lubomirski to take their official wedding photographs is such a telling one.
By marrying, Meghan and Harry have blended their respective royal and Hollywood backgrounds. And while the perception might be that the royal – with its centuries-long heritage and strict rules of etiquette – would win over the Hollywood, Lubomirski’s style and extensive A-list-filled CV brings a dash of Meghan’s modern American glitz to the established royal custom of releasing formal wedding photographs.It’s a formula which the couple also chose for their engagement portraits. Lubomirski photographed them at Frogmore House in Windsor; the images had all the glamour of a fashion magazine shoot (with a little help from Meghan’s Ralph and Russo couture gown) with the backdrop of one the royal family’s favourite entertaining venues.
“It has been an incredible honour and privilege to document the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s inspiring journey of love, hope and family; from the engagement photos, all the way through to the official wedding and family portraits on Saturday,” Lubomirski wrote on Instagram following the release of three official wedding portraits. “This has been a beautiful chapter in my career and life, that I will happily never forget.”Besides the royal couple, some of Lubomirski’s recent subjects include Nicole Kidman, Emilia Clarke ( both for US Elle), Kate Winslet and Julia Roberts (both for Harper’s Bazaar UK). He is one of the red carpet set’s go-to men, creating energetic, aspirational, flattering and yet a little bit imperfect images which mean that for some actresses he’s the only person they'll allow to photograph them.
When it came to deciding on a photographer for the engagement shoot, Meghan is said to have requested the same team which created Julia Roberts’s shoot.“I’m a huge admirer of Alexi, who has contributed a series of wonderful covers to Harper's Bazaar since I first became editor in 2012,” says Justine Picardie, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK. “He celebrates women in all their diversity, and never objectifies them – you can always sense his respect for women in his portraits. Many of my favourite Bazaar covers have been shot by Alexi – including his portrait of Lupita Nyong’o, which he subsequently published on the cover of his book, Diverse Beauty.”In September 2017, Markle appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in images taken by Peter Lindbergh, a photographer famous for embracing and working with women’s natural appearances. She said she was “thrilled to work with Peter because he rarely retouches and he believes in such little makeup. I gave him a big hug and said: ‘I am so excited to work with you because I know we will finally be able to see my freckles!’.”
Lubomirski’s own aesthetic chimes with Lindbergh’s; Markle’s smattering of freckles were not airbrushed away in the engagement portraits and his work retains of sense of reality alongside the immaculate.
In one of the engagement pictures, released in December, Markle wears a jumper by Victoria Beckham who Lubomirski photographed for Harper’s Bazaar in 2009 and who has reportedly been advising Meghan since her move to London.Those images portray another of his signature styles which is more dialled-up and overtly sexy; see also his image of Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a La Perla lace mask and bodysuit on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar US in November 2016.
While he may have been employed by the royals to take the historic wedding pictures, Lubomirski also happens to be a prince himself. In fact, his full title is His Serene Highness Prince Alexi Lubomirski , “a title that stretches back more than half a millennium. A title of which he was informed at the tender age of 11,” according to Vanity Fair and which originates from the Polish house of Lubomirski.
In 2014, he wrote a book dedicated to his sons called Notes For A Young Prince which was inspired by his mother’s advice that: “If you are to be a prince in today’s world, you have to be a prince in your heart and in your actions.”
Lubomirski, the British-born son of Peruvian-English mother and a Polish-French father, studied at the University of Brighton but is a true globetrotter. His family moved to Botswana – the country which Meghan and Harry have credited with offering a haven as their romance blossomed – when he was eight and he has lived in Paris and New York as an adult.He was taken under the wing of Mario Testino soon after graduating and spent four years as his assistant. Testino took some of the most glamorous yet honest portraits of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, and also took the engagement portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It’s a connection which brings a new generation, baton-passing meaning to Meghan and Harry’s pictures, although Testino has kept a low profile of late after several of his former assistants and a number of male models accused him of sexual harassment.
The couple are also bound to have been drawn to Lubomirski’s charitable pursuits as an ambassador for poverty-fighting organisation Concern Worldwide. With their trajectory set as a new globally influential power couple intent on having an impact on the causes closest to their hearts, Lubomirski makes sense as a name to bring into the fold. We could see him documenting their lives for years to come.
© The Daily Telegraph