John Jochimsen ~ The Queen’s Photographer (part 2)

 (Click here for part 1)

Sixty years on from that momentous occasion in 1952, and with John being the youngest person there aged just 22, he believes there is a distinct possibility he is the only person who witnessed the new Queen heading to her throne that is still alive today.

I’m a big fan of the royal family,” says John. “I think if we had no house of commons and her majesty was in charge we certainly wouldn’t be worse off. The Queen Mother was something else too. I’ll never forget when she came up to me one day and said ‘Mr Jochimsen, you’ve got four children, how are they?’ I didn’t know she knew my name never mind about my family.”

John’s stories don’t start or end with the royal family however. He had a pet cheetah in the Sudan, worked for the News of the World and travelled with Haile Selassie – to name just a few of his adventures captured in his latest book 80 years gone in a flash.

It took a year to write and 18 months to find the pictures,” he explains. “They were difficult to come across and I found many at the Imperial War Museum who seemed to be pleased to find someone who knew what they were.”

John’s remarkable memory would certainly put most of us to shame.
Especially when some of the events included being force fed rice wine, “awful stuff,” in Asia and consuming numerous bottles of beer the night he met his pet cheetah.

His fascination in the news was arguably inherited and inspired by his father, a journalist with The Times of London. “I left school at the age of 16 and started training as a cine photographer in the film industry – which is where all my troubles started,” he jests. “Then National Service taught me more about still photography and turned the boy into a man.”

This experience was put to good use when he was abandoned by the journalist he was accompanying in Sudan and ended up having to write the story as well as take the pictures.

Saying John is a remarkable man is an understatement. I’ve not even mentioned how he used empty beer bottles to navigate across the desert, was saved from a scorpion by a kitten in Egypt, woke up to find himself naked in the middle of a camel sale and spent 6 years working on the QE2 – but for that you’ll have to read the book.

He’s certainly lived life to the full and despite being “retired” shows no signs of slowing down, spending much of his spare time as a Police Support Volunteer.

(For the full article as published in June’s etc Magazine please click here)

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