How this simple Christmas Day photo of William, Kate, Meghan and Harry earned me over £40,000

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Leaning across a barrier to snatch a photo of William, Kate, Meghan and Harry on Christmas Day, Karen Anvil, 41, could never have imagined the wealth and happiness that single snap was about to bring.

Here Auxiliary Nurse Karen from Watlington, Norfolk tells how the photo went viral and changed her life forever.

Where it all started, Karen’s sweet snap of the ‘Fab Four’ outside St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham on Christmas Day
Karen Anvil

“As I stood in the cold outside St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, a ripple of excitement went through the crowd.

Suddenly I heard cheering and clapping. My heart pounded as I looked up and saw William, Kate, Meghan and Harry striding towards me, smiling and waving as they arrived for the Christmas Day service with the rest of the royal family. Leaning over the barrier and taking a picture, I had no idea it would change my life forever.

I’ve been a lifelong fan of the royals and my daughter Rachel loves Meghan. So when we learned in December 2017 that she’d be spending Christmas in Sandringham and going to the church near our house, Rachel and I decided to try to catch a glimpse of her.

That morning, we joined the excited crowds. It felt even more thrilling because Kate was pregnant with Louis and it was one of Meghan and Harry’s first appearances as an engaged couple.

Karen Anvil is a lifelong fan of the royals, and her Christmas Day photo certainly rewarded her devotion
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As the four walked towards us, I wished them a merry Christmas and all  of them except for William looked directly at me. I took  a snap with my phone and didn’t think anything of it,  but I showed Rachel and she couldn’t believe how good it was. Feeling proud, I tweeted it to share with other fans.

In minutes, my phone was beeping with tweets from newspapers and websites, asking if they could use my photo of the ‘Fab Four’. When I got home two hours later, my phone was still buzzing. A photographer messaged and put his agent in contact with me. They said I should be charging a fee every time someone used the photo – how much depended on who it was and the context.

From that moment, my life changed. As a single mum, I had two jobs working as an NHS training coordinator. Rachel and I rarely had money for luxuries and had never even been on holiday together. Earlier that year, I’d also been diagnosed with a chronic kidney condition, which I’d already lived with for seven years. Some days the pain was so bad I couldn’t walk, and I had to rely on painkillers. In 2016, I was hospitalised with sepsis after a serious infection. Living with the condition for so long had left me burnt out, physically and emotionally.

Karen Anvil

Karen with daughter Rachel at the Baftas[/caption]

However, as the photo went viral around the world the royalty cheques started to arrive. The first was for £15,000 – although I had to pay tax and an agent’s fee,  it was still a huge sum of money. The most I’ve received from one use was £5,000.

I realised that for the first time I could afford to  have a break. I decided to take a year off work to rest and improve my health and within a couple of months  I no longer needed daily painkillers. The money from  the photo paid off debts from the bank charges I’d accumulated when I’d been sick and unable to work.

I also revamped my home for the first time in years. We had the bathroom and kitchen retiled, new floors put down and new bedroom furniture.

And the photo opened doors to amazing experiences, including being invited to the 2019 BAFTA red carpet by Apple, because I took the shot on my iPhone. Rachel came too and snapped Kate Middleton’s arrival.

Karen Anvil

Cash from the snap allowed Karen to take her first ever holiday abroad[/caption]

In December last year, Rachel and I had our first holiday together to Paris for her 18th birthday. It meant so much to treat her to a trip like that, staying in a hotel, climbing the Eiffel Tower and making memories together.

I’ve also been to Turkey with my cousin since then and have bought myself a puppy called Iris. Last month  I finally felt well enough to return to work, but I’ve cut my hours so I can also study to become a nurse. To date, the photo has earned me over £40,000. I’ve been able to set aside money for Rachel’s future – whether it’s university fees or a deposit for a house – and it gives me huge satisfaction to help her.


While I’m still happily single, I do feel wary that if I wanted to start dating men may only interested in me because of the money I’m earning from the photo – but I like to think I’m cautious enough to spot them!

My dream is to go back to the church in Sandringham this Christmas and snap the royals with their children. I’d love to thank them. If they hadn’t looked at me in that moment, I’d never have got the shot that changed everything.”

Karen telling her story on Good Morning Britain

BTW…

  • The royal family has lived at Sandringham since 1862.
  • Kate Middleton is famously a keen amateur photographer.
  • Meghan was the first royal fiancée to spend Christmas Day with the family – not even Diana or Kate were invited before they married.

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