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Royal photographer, queen's cousin, dies at 66

Lord Lichfield, the official photographer at the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer — and the queen's cousin — died early Friday at the age of 66.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Lord Lichfield, the official photographer at the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, died early Friday, a spokesman for his office said. He was 66.

Lichfield, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, had been staying with friends near Oxford when he suffered a stroke Wednesday and was taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Buckingham Palace said the queen was “deeply saddened” by the death of Lichfield, who often took portraits for the royal family.

In a career spanning 40 years, he photographed a host of stars, including actor Michael Caine, Mick Jagger, film director Roman Polanski and the artist David Hockney. Last month, he photographed former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to mark her 80th birthday.

Born Thomas Patrick John Anson, he was the son of Viscount Anson and Princess Anne of Denmark, the niece of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who died in 2002 — making him first cousin once removed of the queen.

The 5th Earl of Lichfield first picked up a camera at the age of 6, but his passion soon got him into trouble: snapshots the youngster took of the young queen at a cricket match were confiscated by an official.

He began working on his own in the early 1960s, shooting pictures for Life and Queen magazines and a number of national newspapers. He later secured a five-year contract from legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland at Vogue.

Lichfield was best known for images that were seen as capturing the “Swinging London” spirit of the 1960s.

“We did behave quite badly, but it wasn’t so much an immoral as an amoral decade,” he once said. “I drank too much — we all did — smoked the odd joint and saw the world on the arm of a pretty girl at somebody else’s expense.”

Among his most celebrated photos was a group portrait of Polanski, Hockney and writer Lady Antonia Fraser.

In July 1981, as official biographer at the wedding of Charles and Diana, Lichfield used a soccer referee’s whistle to get the attention of participants in group shots.

He also photographed the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, during their exile in Paris after Edward’s abdication. He was having trouble getting the couple to smile, so he deliberately fell off his chair to get the laugh he wanted for his photo.

He is survived by a son and two daughters. His marriage to Leonora Grosvenor ended in divorce.

Funeral details were not immediately available.