THE new series of Netflix’s The Crown will see a young Lady Diana Spencer make her entrance into the Royal Family and on to the world stage.
But as well as depicting Charles and Diana’s courtship and iconic wedding day, the show will also cover the late princess’s private struggles with her new role and her bulimia.
But while the casting of Emma Corrin is spot on, Arthur Edwards says her story is not so straightforward[/caption]
It is sure to stir memories of when Dianamania hit Britain at the start of the Eighties.
The Sun’s royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, had a front row seat for this extraordinary period in British life, taking the first picture of Diana to be published in a newspaper.
Ahead of The Crown’s fourth series, which starts on Sunday next week, he tells about the woman he knew and the unguarded moments you won’t see on the show . . .
AS a royal photographer I covered Diana for 17 years – and it was a white-knuckle ride.
We had never seen anyone like her before and we have not since.
You could not take your eyes off her for a minute because everything was a picture. She was gold dust and readers loved seeing her in the paper.
When she looked down the lens and smiled, it was like lightning struck.
Yet the first time I photographed her there were no crowds or hysteria.
I had been told by a contact that the Prince of Wales had been seen around with a Lady Diana Spencer, and he was taking her to the polo on a Saturday in July 1980.
I saw a pretty young blonde girl sitting in the crowd wearing a “D” necklace. I said to her: “Excuse me, are you Lady Diana Spencer?”
She replied yes and I asked if I could take her picture. She said: “Of course”, and posed for me.
Afterwards, I called our researchers and asked them to find out more about her.
The Netflix show will delve into Diana and Charles’s troubled marriage[/caption]
Viewers will see a young Diana struggling to cope in her new role[/caption]
Arthur, who took the first published picture of Diana, remembers a smart and capable woman[/caption]
When they said she was 19 I thought it must be wrong that they were dating because she was so much younger than 31-year-old Charles, so I filed the picture away.
Five weeks later I was in Balmoral and spotted Prince Charles fishing, up to his waist in water. Next to him in the river was Lady Diana Spencer.
When I saw that I knew they must be serious and I rang a contact who told me Diana had been following Charles around like a lamb.
We pulled my original picture from the library and next day broke the story on the front page with the headline, “Charles In Love Again”, and subheading, “She has all the qualities to be Queen”.
In those days Diana was fairly plain, a Sloane ranger in blouses and knitted sweaters, but she always had a sparkle. She was very friendly and engaging — and she knew how to play the press pack.
‘SHE CARRIED ON FOR AGES, DRIPPING WET’
Not long after we broke the story I went to Young England Nursery School, in West London, where she worked as an assistant, and asked if she would pose for photographs.
She brought some of the children outside and that is where I took the famous photograph where Bukipress came out behind her and we saw those fabulous legs.
Our reporter Harry Arnold asked about her relationship and she said: “You know I can’t talk about that.”
Then he cleverly asked: “Have you told your mother?”, to which she replied gleefully: “Oh yes!”
As Diana fever began to build, the Press would often be outside her flat. She was always pleasant and would stop to chat.
On one occasion she said to me: “Why me?”, and I told her: “Because you are the person he wants.”
Another time a group of French photographers had surrounded her car with beer barrels and she got quite upset. I helped her move them and told her: “Don’t let them see you cry, that’s what they want.”
Diana knew how to use the press to her advantage – in 1987 while holidaying on the King of Spain’s yacht, she deliberately posed for photos[/caption]
When she went to watch Charles as an amateur jockey one day, her chaperone was none other than Camilla Parker Bowles. I photographed them together in the stands.
Camilla was fully behind their relationship, she was happily married herself. All of Charles’s friends approved of them getting engaged.
I have no doubt Netflix and The Crown will focus on strains in the relationship that were there from the beginning.
But I saw the other side and witnessed how proud Charles was of Diana.
Their first official engagement as a couple was in March 1981.
Charles got out of the car, smiled and said to us: “Wait until you see what is coming next”, and Diana stepped out in a knockout, off-the-shoulder gown.
The Crown will show Diana’s bulimia, which I did hear stories about. The night before the wedding I was driving to our office on Fleet Street, past St Paul’s Cathedral, and I spotted Charles’s car, so I stopped.
I saw the couple coming down the steps following their rehearsal, Diana looking really, really thin. She was under so much pressure.
I saw the other side and witnessed how proud Charles was of Diana.
About two weeks before, I had seen her break down in tears at a polo match. You have to remember, she had only just turned 20.
At the wedding I was positioned in front of St Paul’s and got an amazing picture of that fabulous 25ft train on her dress, which we ran with the headline, “The Train Now Standing At St Paul’s”.
Their first tour together was to Wales, in torrential rain. It was the first time we had seen Diana at work — and it was amazing.
Her feathered hat wilted, yet she knelt down to children and reached to the back of crowds to shake hands with people.
She carried on for ages, dripping wet. We had never seen anything like it from royals.
The Crown’s fourth series will follow the late princess as she grows increasingly lonely and miserable before her 1981 wedding[/caption]
Troubling scenes will depict her battle with eating disorders, with Netflix putting warnings at the start of some episodes[/caption]
It will also show Charles flying into a jealous rage after the Princess of Wales proves more popular than him during a tour of Australia[/caption]
Not long before, I had been with Princess Anne on a Save The Children trip to Africa. She attended a mass immunisation. I didn’t get a single picture of her with a mother and child.
The royals were just not brought up to conduct engagements like that.
Diana’s extraordinary enthusiasm was there from the start and changed everything. In the 1980s I watched her in India as she crawled on the floor of an awful, dark hospice room tending to 50 men dying of Aids.
In 1983 the Queen and Prince Philip went on a state visit to Sweden and no member of the British media went with them.
Diana was the only game in town. When Charles and Diana visited Australia the same year they had to shut the city of Brisbane as there were too many people there.
The Prince of Wales’s press officer begged one of us to take a picture of Charles greeting crowds on the opposite side of the road to his wife.
‘WOULD YOU PREFER I TURNED UP NAKED?’
I told him if I sent in a picture without Diana in the frame, the office would think I had gone mad.
A lot has been said about their troubled marriage, but I do not believe claims that they were never happy.
During their tour of Australia with baby William, they were all over each other. On a visit to Maitland, New South Wales, it was unbearably hot.
I caught a picture of Charles tenderly covering Diana’s hand with his and asking: “Are you all right darling?” You can’t fake that.
Diana was always giggling and making jokes. She would often say the most outrageous things.
In 1985, when she went to watch opera singer Pavarotti in Italy, we were holding the front page for a picture of her dress.
Arthur says Diana had a hard edge and was ‘complex and secure’[/caption]
But she broke the mould ‘because compassion was her great gift’[/caption]
But when she turned up she was wearing one she had worn several times before.
Later I asked her: “What did you wear that old dress for?”, and she replied: “Next time would you prefer if I turned up naked?”
In 1990 she had her hair cut very short. I said to her: “Any shorter and you’ll look like Sinead O’Connor”, who had recently been No1. She replied: “At least I’ve got hair.”
When she got into her car I heard her tell her driver: “I told him, didn’t I?”
In 1995 she visited a car factory and was looking at a McLaren F1 driver Ayrton Senna had used.
Not long before she had been caught speeding and I quipped: “They won’t catch you in that.” She replied: “I’ll do the jokes, Arthur.”
She always understood that the Press had a job to do, and would also manipulate us when she wanted to send a message or promote a cause. But we were willing participants.
On one occasion she was on holiday with Charles and the boys on the king of Spain’s yacht.
She saw we were out in a boat and stood up, came to the edge of the deck in her bikini in full view of us and stood there for a while eating an apple.
She knew she looked great and wanted to show the world that.
Diana had a hard edge though — she was complex and insecure. She would cut people off.
She had stopped speaking to her mother and pal Sarah Ferguson before her death in August 1997.
Arthur Edwards has been snapping the Royal Family for 45 years[/caption]
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But she broke the mould because compassion was her great gift. It didn’t matter if she was in Millwall or Malawi, Diana always delivered.
I worked seven days a week then. You couldn’t miss an engagement as you never knew what she would do. You could not miss a picture.
She had us like puppets on a string — but we didn’t mind, because Di was always dynamite.
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