Friday, July 31, 2015

Royal Book Challenge: To tread on Royal toes by Ray Bellisario

Published 1972
140 Pages

I ordered this book (from Australia) to do research on how the paparazzi works. To tread on Royal toes did not disappoint in that respect. Ray Bellesarrio, dubbed the first paparazzo, has been alternatively known as 'The Peeping Tom the Royals dread,' 'notorious unofficial royal photographer,' 'Hammer of the House of Windsor,' or, as Princess Margaret referred to him: 'that bloody Bellisario!'

Ray Bellisario began photographing the royals at the age of 18 and continued doing so for three decades. To tread on Royal toes features 120 photographs of the royal family both on duty and off. He found himself in trouble over his candid pictures of the royals in bathing suits, waterskiing and on honeymoon. However, what was novel then is tame by comparison now. Through it all Bellisario remains defiant, delighting in infuriating the royals and palace officials. He also takes particular glee in taking swipes at another well known royal photographer, Lord Snowdon.

After To tread on Royal toes was published, Bellisario sent a specially bound copy to the Queen. It was returned with a note 'Her Majesty does not wish to accept the book and it is therefore being returned herewith.'  Little did she know the paparazzi would only get worse.

Bellisario auctioned his entire photographic archives in 2013 to raise money for his charity, Reach for Rights. Some of his royal photos can be seen here.

© Marilyn Braun 2015

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