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ADVERTISER 150: First break for Fleet Street ‘royal’ snapper Arthur Edwards is in the East End

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 November 2016 | UPDATED: 19:31 23 November 2016

Royal snapper Arthur Edwards sets up for the scoop of his career at Buckingham Palace [photo: courtesy of The Sun]

Royal snapper Arthur Edwards sets up for the scoop of his career at Buckingham Palace [photo: courtesy of The Sun]

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The Advertiser marks its 150th anniversary this week focussing its lens on Fleet Street’s famous royal photographer Arthur Edwards, one of the celebs down the years who began their media careers in the East End on the newspaper. Arthur, who was awarded the MBE by the Queen in 2003 “for services to the newspaper industry”, tells it in his own words:

2011: World exclusive by Arthur Edwards... that famous kiss on balcony of Buckingham Palace, Prince William and his bride Kate [Photo: courtesy of The Sun]2011: World exclusive by Arthur Edwards... that famous kiss on balcony of Buckingham Palace, Prince William and his bride Kate [Photo: courtesy of The Sun]

I did my first assignment for the East London Advertiser in April, 1963—and I failed miserably. It was a local football match at King George’s Playing Fields and I didn’t get one sharp frame!

I had been working for the fashion photographer John French in the West End and left to take pictures in the East End—and loved it!

The East End was an extremely busy news area. It was not unusual to do five assignments a day and even more at the weekend.

Mayoral engagements, local fetes and bazaars, showbiz pictures, an occasional Royal visit —but most of all lots of sport, football and boxing in the winter, cricket and athletics in the summer.

Arthur Edwards with Prince Charles and CamillaArthur Edwards with Prince Charles and Camilla

I photographed fine young boxers such as John H Stracey and Maurice Hope in their early amateur fights at York Hall who both went on to win professional world titles.

I snapped Graham Gooch playing club cricket, Harry Redknapp playing for the east London schools team.

The Advertiser, which at that time sold 40,000 copies every week, attracted some fine young reporters. Len Whaley was a top sports editor and he loved boxing and we are still friends to this day. One day he asked me to accompany him to White City where a young east London boxer, Jimmy Tibbs, was sparring with Muhammad Ali. I will never forget meeting Ali that day.

Another fine young reporter was Steve Nice, who later changed his name to Steve Harley and had huge success with Cockney Rebel rock band—cockney rebel is exactly what Steve was, with very long hair which upset the editor, but refused to get it cut.

A young Arthur Edwards in 1963 (inset) and his 'Magic Moments' book half-a-century laterA young Arthur Edwards in 1963 (inset) and his 'Magic Moments' book half-a-century later

Another top Advertiser newsman I remember was Paul Henderson, one of the best reporters I ever worked with. He has enjoyed a brilliant Fleet Street career at the Daily Express, The Star, Daily Mail and now a senior executive at the Daily Mirror.

I joined The Sun in 1974 and for the past 40 years have photographed the Royal family, travelling to 120 countries.

I have shot several royal weddings, stood outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Paddington for the first pictures of Prince William, Prince Harry and William’s children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. I have also appeared in TV documentaries and was a Radio 4 ‘castaway’ on Desert Island Discs.

Now at 76, I am still fully employed on The Sun. I still do this job is because I love to take pictures and get the instant reward of seeing them in the paper.

But all that I achieved in my career was because I got that lucky break on the East London Advertiser 53 years ago.

—Arthur Edwards

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