Queen Elizabeth visits La Villita

35 mm Kodacolor film (digitally converted to sepia)

For the past several months, I’ve been going through my archives, assembling photos for a retrospective exhibit, and this is one of the shots I had pulled out to use — Queen Elizabeth’s visit to San Antonio in 1991.


Back in the early nineties, I was working regularly for both the City and the Chamber of Commerce, and I think this photo came out of an assignment for one of them. In order to get a press pass for the event, I had to be cleared by the Secret Service. I had to do that quite a few times back then, because I was often taking photos of dignitaries who visited San Antonio — the Pope, Jimmy Carter, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Bill Clinton, the President of Mexico — people like that.


For this photo, I was stationed in La Villita. The Queen came down the river by barge, climbed those long steps in the Arneson Theater, walked through La Villita, and then boarded a VIA trolley to ride to the Alamo. I was impressed by her stamina, and by her graciousness. She acknowledged the crowd and all the people meeting her.


I got this shot as she came from the Arneson. I tried to get some more shots, running alongside the trolley, but the Secret Service stopped me.


In the background of this photo, you can see that Prince Phillip is inspecting a unit of men in kilts. I’m not sure, but I think they were the San Antonio Scottish Rifles.


My favorite thing about this photo is a sort of Norman Rockwell moment. Notice the young boy at the end of the Scottish Rifles unit: He’s standing on a curb so he can be as tall as everybody else in the group.

See more of Al's work on his website.