Due to space restrictions and security, it is rarely possible to allow all media who wish to cover a royal engagement equal access to the event. A rota, or pool system, was therefore introduced. Representatives from each relevant media sector are offered the opportunity to cover an event, on the understanding that they will share all material obtained, with other members of their sector who request it.
The NMA allocates rota passes for local, regional and national newspapers in its membership. Fixed point passes, or any other method of accessing events, are allocated by the host or relevant royal household.
The royal diary includes details of official engagements undertaken by members of the royal family at locations across the UK. They are published up to eight weeks in advance. NMA member national and local news media publishers should regularly check the diary for forthcoming royal engagements which may be of interest. Engagements can be searched either by member of the royal family, time period or region. It is also possible to view a list of all published engagements.
It is also worth viewing the websites for the Prince of Wales, Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and Duke & Duchess of Sussex to keep up to date about engagement announcements. Newspapers which want to cover a royal engagement should make an application as soon as possible.
Royal Rota Obligations
Newspapers are issued with royal rota passes on the understanding that they will fully meet the obligations for the rota system by providing an immediate service by electronic transfer and, if required, by prints or duplicate transparencies. They must also maintain a central library which is easily accessible.
A rota pass holder is to take a reasonable selection of pictures, fully illustrating the parts of the event covered by the rota passes. A rota pass holder must produce a reasonable amount of copy covering the full scope of the passes allocated. All material must be adequately captioned, ordered in advance (where possible) and collected.
All material, particularly original negatives and colour transparencies, must be available in the UK for a period of at least five years. Newspapers, wire services, periodicals, agencies and independents holding rota passes are expected to exchange material direct with each other free of charge.
All pictures taken on a rota pass, whether issued or not, shall be classified as rota pictures and marked as such in the appropriate library of the copyright holder. Recipients of rota pictures supplied by newspapers for publication should not pass such pictures to third parties. Rota material should not be sold exclusively, or labelled as such when reproduced.
Photographers employed by host organisations to cover an engagement are not permitted to make their work available to the press in competition with the work of rota photographers. Newspapers securing facilities and being unable to use them must inform the NMA as soon as possible before the visit so that the passes may be reallocated.
Rota holders are reminded that reporters and photographers nominated to represent them at royal events should be suitably dressed for the occasion. For formal royal rota occasions taking place indoors, lounge suit with shirt and tie for men, discreet day attire for women. Failure to comply with this requirement is liable to be treated as a breach of the rota obligations and may lead to admission being refused. Passes must be worn where they can be easily seen.