How Diana's media monster is now feeding on itself

Brian Harris, the Independent's chief photographer and ex-paparazzo, says the royals can only blame themselves

Brian Harris
Sunday 18 August 1996 23:02 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


As far as public figures are concerned, there are no limits to what I would photograph. There is no respite. There wouldn't be a paparazzi if there was no demand, and that demand has been created by three things: the editors of newspapers and magazines; the readers who have an insatiable desire for sensational stuff; and the royals themselves, who have been quite happy to expose themselves when it has suited them.

The situation has now been compounded by the Princess of Wales's injunction. This morning there will be an even bigger pack outside the Chelsea Harbour Club, made up of staff and freelance photographers. You may even get some purporting to be covering the antics of the press. And that is likely to be the broadsheets, not just the tabloids.

The bottom line is that Diana stories sell papers. It is hypocritical of the editors of popular tabloids to say they are only covering it if it is a legitimate story. That is total nonsense. If Diana falls flat on her bum coming out of that gym then all the newspapers will use that picture.

Diana has created a monster, without a doubt. She used the press to make her the darling star. Now no one knows how to handle it - the Royal Family do not know how to handle it and nor does the press. Diana and Fergie are totally responsible for the blurring of the boundaries as to what is acceptable coverage. They have devalued the Royal Family probably more than any other member since George IV. Now the establishment and the press are trying to make Martin Stenning appear as grubby as possible to distance themselves.

The royal children are an area that even someone as cynical as myself would draw a line at. If the children are paraded around and it is an invitation - fair enough. But I think the children, until they have reached adulthood and finished their education, should be left alone.

The Queen Mother though, she's fair game, even though she is an old lady. Say you had a picture of her falling off her sticks - I don't think many people would use that, because they might consider it in poor taste. But I think the picture should be used. She has used the press over the years, all the royals have. They are the ace manipulators - they put people like Peter Mandelson to shame.

If there was a car crash involving a normal family my first instinct would be to stop and help. I can't say the same for the royals - it is difficult. Provided it wasn't life or death, I think I would take photographs first and then help afterwards.

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