I never met Ray Bellisario but his reputation as Britain’s first royal paparazzo caught my attention. As an amateur photographer myself, I appreciate the difficulty in getting top class candid photos. There is so much prior study required before going to the site. In Ray’s case he learned about the intricacies of show jumping and eventing long before he went stalking Princess Anne. That way he could foretell which were the most difficult jumps on the course. He positioned himself accordingly.
When Anne confronted him, Ray explained how he wanted to be there when she fell off her horse. “You’ll never see that,” was her frosty reply. But it did happen – and he got the picture! In 1970 Anne took a tumble from her mount Purple Star during the Army Horse Trials at Tidworth. Ray always had the instinctive eye for a photographic opportunity.
He knew how to foretell an event likely to create profitable picture opportunities. When Hugh Hefner arrived at Heathrow airport in 1966 accompanied by a gaggle of Playboy bunny girls, Ray photographed the event. When the hottest starlet of those times, Brigitte Bardot, visited London to film ‘Shalako’, Ray persuaded her to let him photograph her in a typical English pub. Those photos went around the world and enhanced everyone’s reputations. After Christine Keeler, of ‘The Profumo Affair’, was released from prison she sought Ray’s help in creating her new portfolio of photographs to re-launch her career as a model.
As a super-active paparazzo, Ray’s habit of climbing trees and lurking behind bushes to get photos of the British Windsors caught off-guard annoyed all members of the royal family. Prince Phillip threatened to lock Ray in the Tower of London. But Ray knew his legal rights, so he never strayed from public footpaths or places he was allowed to be.
On one occasion he rented a room on the 19th floor of the Hilton Hotel which overlooked the back lawn of Buckingham Palace. He was rewarded with an exclusive photo of the Queen chatting with the Duke of Windsor, even though the palace denied the Queen had met with the former King Edward VIII during his secret visit to England for an eye operation.
Ray Bellisario founded and financially supported a charity ‘Reach For Rights’ which provides free legal assistance to those without private funds. Before he died (9.4.2018) Ray sold his entire photographic portfolio and its copyrights to support the RFR charity. Ray Bellisario was one of Pontefract’s more colourful sons.
Brian Morris was the founding principal of NZIBS and has been a professional writer for 50 years. His first effort at age 7 (in pencil) was rejected by Reader’s Digest. Since then he has focused on writing non-fiction ebooks.
My aim is to produce a new ebook every two weeks. My other aim is to show as many people as will listen how to write their own ebooks. That means giving talks to writers groups, ‘How-To’ workshops and NZIBS writing courses. I know the topics of my next 40 ebooks, but there are only 25 hours in a day.