Murder at the Royal Wedding

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CHAPTER FOUR

Westminster Abbey

London

Wednesday 27th April

7.30pm Wedding rehearsal

When twelve policemen challenged the traffic, stopping them entering the cathedral’s Sanctuary quadrangle, Henrietta Fox knew it was time. She slid her long lens up to an eye. In her viewfinder she covered the side door. Pressing herself tightly against the thousand year old abbey wall she wanted one money shot. The bride-to-be arriving for the wedding rehearsal. She expected the comments from the waiting crowd. Perfectly normal people became licensed to yell obscenities at her by being there, as though it were part of the ritual. She didn’t care.

Two police motorcycle outriders cleared the way for the black Range Rover that turned into the street. The royal protection back-up car followed closely behind. The SO14 protection cop opened the rear door and out stepped the future Queen of England, Catherine Middleton. She was casually dressed in a white patterned, black loose dress with a linen jacket, ruffled to the throat. Prince William followed in a charcoal grey lounge suit. Her mother, Carole, in an elegant, black dress and a white bolero jacket looked anxious. Prince Harry, casual in a black jumper over a white shirt, brought up the rear. Kate was in wedge-heeled shoes that made her tower over her mother.

Henrietta focused. Then a hand clamped hard on her shoulder, jolting her aim.

“You got anything, Henri?”

Cass Farraday stood feet planted apart, oblivious to the crowd whose view he obstructed. His voice was loud and commanding.

“I can’t stand weddings. I’ve got to go.”

“Careful, Cass! I nearly missed it! Why are you here?”

“Chief Royal Correspondent.”

“That’s ridiculous! You don’t know anything about royalty – or weddings.”

“I know. It’s the budget cuts. I cover what I’m told to. They make up the titles.”

“I thought you public schoolboys only know about rugby. Ten pints of ale and a run at the vicars’ daughters.”

He ran fingers through his straw-coloured hair and his face creased into a smile.

“I need a decent table somewhere for dinner. You snap anything here, send it to the Morning Graphic.”

He turned to leave.

Illegitimi non carborundum, Henri.”

“What?”

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

“The wedding rehearsal hasn’t finished!”

“Alright for you. You live on pizza and vodka. I often think of you as a Cossack on a motorbike, Henri. I'm sure you're related to Attila the Hun.”

He disappeared into the crowds on Victoria Street with a last quip.

“Watch out for that Harry Windsor. He might take a fancy to you, Foxy.”

Henrietta delved for her mobile, snuggling it to an ear under a mop of unruly red curls.

“That you, McKinnon? It’s Fox. I’ve just pictured Kate Middleton and family arriving at the Abbey. You want it?”

The anxious Scots voice wheedled,

“aye. The Editor’s on ma back for that, Foxy. Front page is late already. He knows it’s happening, we’re all watching you on Sky.”

“I got it. Your man’s round the other entrance. I want five thousand.” She held her breath.

“You’re an English pirate, Fox. Will ye take three?”

“Shall I try the Mail or the Mirror?”

“Foxy, we need it. Get pinging. Ye best picture, mind. I’ll nae be waiting for more. Get that picture over - now.”

Henrietta cut him short. What does he think I’m going to do for five grand, run a lap of honour round the abbey in my underwear? Drongo deskman! She made a space for her laptop on the pavement, next to her father’s skid-lid crash helmet. Her mother had given it to her after he died on the speedway track at the Walthamstow Finals night. She was twelve and it never left her side.

She rubbed her palms together to clean off the dust. The screen glowed blue. She downloaded her digital images from the big Nikon and dialled the tabloid Morning Graphic input number.

In ten minutes her picture of Kate at the Abbey would be on the presses and rolling. The paper had paid her rent for another month and she was happy.

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