My journey to The Independent editor’s office entailed a short walk across the office from The Independent on Sunday, which I had been editing since 1996. My office view remained much the same. But there the comparison ended.
Tomorrow’s paper – all those empty pages – screamed to be filled by 6pm, the world outside our windows had to be wrestled into shape, understood, interpreted via the paper’s amazing writers and columnists into tomorrow morning’s news and opinions. The extraordinary miracle that is a daily newspaper was staring me in the face. Into my growing sense of total panic, enter John Lichfield, then our Paris correspondent. He had been offered a cache of photographs of the Lost Prince of the House of Windsor. Were we interested?
If he’d been in the room, I would have kissed him. As it was, I poured my heartfelt thanks down the phone and the story started to take shape. “This is the lost prince of the House of Windsor who, throughout his life, was hidden from the British public for fear he might embarrass the Royal Family. His photograph has never been seen before in a newspaper. His name was Prince John, and he would have been uncle to the present Queen.” It looked amazing. The story was a minor sensation; letters poured in from around the world; Stephen Poliakoff made a film. And that was all on day one.
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