The Princess, aghast that the News of the World was about to publish a story alleging that she made nuisance telephone calls to a married male friend (see front page), had arranged the meeting in Talbot Square, Bayswater, to put her side of the story.
But just how did a rival newspaper manage to capture the intimate details of their private meeting on film? The answer is that in time-honoured Fleet Street tradition it drew on the services of a paparazzo, a freelance photographer who dogs the heels of the famous or members of the Royal Family in the hope of selling revealing pictures of them to newspapers and magazines.
Glenn Harvey, one of the foremost royal 'paps', who has been photographing royal family members for the past 15 years, was tipped off by a photographer colleague who was unable to get to the square in time. 'It was just a bit of luck,' he said yesterday. A fellow paparazzo had been alerted by a telephone call from someone who had spotted the Princess. For a couple of hours' work late on Saturday afternoon, Mr Harvey is rumoured to have earned pounds 10,000.
A senior national tabloid picture editor says that snatching pictures of the royals in unstaged moments can be extremely lucrative. An ordinary royal picture fetches never less than pounds 500; something decent pounds 1,000. 'Once you start getting something exclusive with a news angle to it, the sky's the limit. You can negotiate figures from pounds 2,000 to whatever the story is worth. Coming out of some fellow's flat at midnight is obviously worth more than coming out of San Lorenzo's at 2 o'clock.'
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