Chris Jackson has been photographing King Charles for nearly 20 years – and he’s learned plenty about the British royal along the way.
For starters, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II likes to arrive in style. He’s known for making an entrance in his vintage Aston Martin, just like James Bond.
“Did you know he had an ejector button in his Aston Martin? Probably not,” the royal photographer chuckled to Fox News Digital.
King Charles bought his Aston Martin in 1970. (Chris Jackson)
“He’s got this beautiful Aston Martin that runs on biofuel, which is basically surplus wine and cheese whey, which is pretty incredible,” Jackson said. “He’s obviously very passionate about the environment, [and] he’s got this beautiful car, a DB6 Volante Aston Martin, that’s environmentally friendly.”
The king, who has been a longtime advocate of sustainable living, bought the car in 1970. He converted it to run on biofuels, which uses ethanol created from cheese-making whey and wine. He loaned his beloved vehicle to son Prince William, who used it to drive his bride, Kate Middleton, from their nuptials in 2011.
Charles’ cousin, Lord Snowdon, once joked, “How does [the former] Prince Charles drive his Aston Martin? Caerphilly.”
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King Charles converted his car to run on biofuels, using ethanol created from cheese-making whey and wine. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
It’s one of the many stories Jackson has uncovered during his decades-long career. Ahead of the king’s coronation on May 6, Jackson has a new photobook, “Charles III: A King and His Queen,” in which he details the stories behind some of his most iconic portraits. It also features rare, unseen photos of Charles and his family from over the years.
Chris Jackson has a new book titled “Charles III: A King and His Queen.” (Rizzoli)
According to Jackson, his initial impression of Charles was that he’s “got this incredible energy.”
“He always takes it to every engagement,” he said. “I think he’s picked up a lot from the queen, of course, that sense of duty that Queen Elizabeth had right to the end. … The king has certainly taken that forward. He has a sense of energy and commitment to the role. When we’re on royal tours, he has up to eight engagements a day, skipping lunch. He’s pretty difficult to keep up with.”
“Clearly a Bond fan the car even has an ejector seat fitted,” Chris Jackson previously captioned one of his photos. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
During his travels, Jackson learned that Charles “is a great dancer” who doesn’t think twice about showing off his moves.
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During his travels, Jackson learned that Charles “is a great dancer” who doesn’t think twice about showing off his moves. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
“He’s always keen to get involved, keen to try on some of the local cultural garb, which I think people really appreciate,” Jackson explained. “[There’s] that involvement and respect of culture, local culture, that’s really important. He’s one man, he’s probably traveled more than anyone else. Certainly, Queen Elizabeth was the most traveled monarch, but Charles is very close behind. He’s a man with so much knowledge of different cultures and experiences. I think … that makes him the man he is today.”
In the past, Charles has been depicted as stuffy as he cut ribbons and unveiled plaques. However, his demeanor has softened, and his sense of humor often makes an appearance, to Jackson’s delight.
King Charles likes to feed his chickens and collect his own eggs. (Chris Jackson)
“Of course, they’re the royal family, there’s going to be elements of [formality],” he said. “But I think, when you go through the book, you realize that [his] personality really comes through and there’s that sense of humor. There’s a shot of the king … vacuuming my trousers [at] the Dyson innovation factory in Singapore. … They’ve got this ability to laugh at themselves and enjoy their roles.”
King Charles is seen here joking with his sister, Princess Anne, during the 2017 Braemar Gathering in Scotland. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
But according to Jackson, Charles finds solace behind palace doors. Gardening has been his longtime hobby, with his majestic garden at Highgrove described as “his pride and joy.” According to House & Garden, Charles has overseen and nurtured the gardens at his Scottish home, Birkhall, on the grounds of Balmoral, at London’s Clarence House and at his Welsh home Llwynywermod. When he’s not feeding his chickens and hens, as well as collecting his own eggs, he’s painting landscapes or scenes from his travels.
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Charles and Camilla have a mutual love of gardening, Chris Jackson said. (Chris Jackson)
“I think it’s important to have the ability to switch off for a little bit, so you can come back feeling … with a renewed sense of energy,” said Jackson. “Both Queen Camilla and the king have different houses with amazing gardens around the country. Of course, the queen has a house in Gloucestershire and the king has Highgrove. They’ve got these stunning gardens. There’s a photo in my book of the king working in the garden amongst all these incredible perennials and flowers and plants.”
King Charles finds solace gardening and painting. (Chris Jackson)
And there’s one photo of the king in his element that’s become a favorite for Jackson among the thousands he’s taken.
King Charles is seen here next to a 600-year-old tree. (Chris Jackson)
“My favorite picture of the king is probably [from] the day he was named head ranger of Windsor Great Park,” said Jackson. “He’s leaning up against a 600-year-old tree, this ancient tree that must have seen so much history in its time. And I think it’s quite a poignant image from a man who says he feels one with nature, who enjoys being in nature. And it’s an image that’s away from the day-to-day formality of being a member of the royal family. There’s another shot of him taking off his shoes after a walk around the gardens … up in Scotland, which is something you don’t see every day. I love those kinds of candid, behind-the-scene moments.”
King Charles is seen here demonstrating a new Dyson V8 Absolute vacuum cleaner on Chris Jackson during a tour of the Dyson Technology Centre on Nov. 1, 2017, in Singapore. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
Jackson said that in recent years, he’s been able to capture a new side of Charles – one of a doting grandfather.
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Prince Louis, the youngest son of Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton, is seen here sitting on the lap of grandfather Charles during the Platinum Jubilee. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
“All these kinds of family moments are generally private,” he said. “So, I’m there for a very few of these moments. … I loved seeing the king with Prince Louis on his lap at the Platinum Jubilee. It’s always nice to see the family together. And the fact that these situations are quite rare is nice for me because it means that they’re all the more special. There’s definitely an element of warmth and familiarity, which is lovely.”
Camilla is seen here being given a henna tattoo as she visits Clock Cafe in the Medina during her visit to Morocco in 2011. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
Jackson, who will be photographing the coronation, doesn’t expect life to change significantly for the king. He suspects it will be business as usual.
“It’s going to be a year of transition and change – I think that was inevitable,” Jackson said. “[But] I think the king is certainly going to be looking … for a sustainable future. And I think that’s important to him, to make sure that the monarchy is in a healthy and successful place for the future.”
According to Chris Jackson, it will be business as usual for the king and queen after the coronation. (Chris Jackson)
“I’ve noticed a really increased level of interest since [Charles and Camilla] became king and queen,” he said. “There’s been huge crowds at their engagements. There have been many people cheering them on. I’m really excited about the increased and renewed level of interest. And it’s exciting that people from all over the world are coming over for the coronation. I’ve spoken to so many people who are really excited and have been supportive of the king. He’s very passionate about his causes and connecting with people. I think we can look forward to that more.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.