“When I got up this particular morning, I knew I was going to photograph the opening of the elephant sanctuary at Whipsnade animal park,” Chris Jackson told Insider. “But what I didn’t realize, and what was quite unexpected, was the Queen would actually feed Donna, the Asian elephant, a banana.”
“What I loved about this particular picture is that it’s just after the Queen’s fed the banana to Donna, but she’s anticipating her next one,” he said. “And she’s got her trunk absolutely straight outstretched, keen to snuffle another banana from the Queen.”
Jackson said Donna’s enthusiasm made the zookeepers a bit nervous. “Another bit of the hidden detail that you probably can’t see: There’s quite a few zookeepers looking slightly concerned that a huge animal is going to suddenly rush forward,” he said.
Thankfully, Donna kept a respectful distance from the monarch. Pictured with the Queen are Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne.
“It was a really lovely and relaxed event, and everyone was feeling very jovial, I think,” Jackson said.
“If you look closely, you can see the knife stuck in the cake,” Jackson said. “It’s a great example of when things don’t always go to plan, it often makes the best photographs. Everyone bursts into laughter, and it’s suddenly a relaxed moment.”
Jackson said Princess Anne finally managed to dislodge the knife. “It’s one of those things where you might not know exactly what’s going on if you look at this picture,” he said. “But if you look at the detail a little bit closely, you can probably figure it out.”
“Prince George is clearly in the moment mixing that Christmas pudding,” he said. “And everyone’s obviously feeling quite relaxed. But, at the same time, this picture has historical connotations because you’ve got the heirs to the throne and the Queen. It was a rare moment to capture all four of them together, looking so relaxed.”