Their Royal Highnesses Princess Laurentien and Prince Constantijn were in Amsterdam on Saturday to attend the 60th World Press Photo Contest awards ceremony. Prince Constantijn presented the World Press Photo of the Year in his role as patron of World Press Photo.
This year’s prize winner was Turkish photographer Burhan Özbilici who shoots for the Associated Press. His powerful, moving image shows the moment immediately following the murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, who was killed at the opening of a gallery exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, on 19 December 2016. Shooter Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş – an off-duty Turkish policeman – is shown standing in front of Karlov’s body with one arm extended, his index finger raised, and the other holding the gun.
The jury said that Özbilici’s image captured ‘the hatred of our time’ and Jury Chairman Stuart Franklin spoke of Özbilici’s heroism, calling him an ‘incredible, brave man who has done his job heroically [having been at a press event] which was changed into such a tragedy.’
Altıntaş used his police ID to gain access to the event and proceeded to shoot the ambassador at point-blank range, fatally wounding him and causing injury to others. He then cried out ‘Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!’ before being killed in a shootout with Turkish security forces. The assassination followed a highly volatile period in Turkey, which saw multi-day protests against Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War.
Of witnessing and capturing the searing moment, Özbilici said ‘running away was not an option. I had my job to do, even though [I could have been] killed or seriously injured.’
Özbilici’s photo was selected from 80,408 images captured by 5,034 photographers who come from 126 different countries around the world.
Before the official ceremony, Their Royal Highnesses had the opportunity to speak with Mr Özbilici and discuss the now iconic work.