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Diana’s early brushes with the media

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Diana, Princess of Wales was perhaps one of the most photographed women in the world. Born into the aristocratic Spencer family, Diana grew up in close proximity to the Royal Family, often playing with Prince Edward and Prince Andrew. While she grew up close to them, it wasn’t until her relationship with Prince Charles unfolded that Diana would gain worldwide attention.

In fact, the year she was born, 1961, TIME explained the relatively new term “paparazzi” to readers, comparing them to streetwalkers because “they cling to their place in society.”

“No one is safe [from them], not even royalty,” the 1961 article explained.

In their official engagement interview, Diana and Charles revealed the two met at the Spencer family home when Charles visited for a hunting trip in 1977. At the time, Charles was friends with Diana’s older sister, Sarah. Originally, Sarah had been seen as the match for Charles.

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During the summer of 1980, Charles and Diana (then nearly 19-years-old) reconnected during a summer weekend at a mutual friend’s house. When word got around that fall of the relationship, Diana began to be followed by the media. She was working as a nanny and sharing a flat with other girls when photographers swarmed Diana’s apartment. By their February 1981 engagement, Diana was already a celebrity.

On 29 July 1981, the couple married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in front of a congregation of 3,500 people. An estimated 750 million people watched the 20-year-old marry the future King. After the wedding, the couple left for a two-week honeymoon.

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In her first year as a royal, Diana is said to have been as fascinated with the press as they were with her. Over the years, the relationship would become more invasive. Photos of the Princess were offered for up to £500,000 ($656,000) for photos that were even considered grainy. Steadily, she earned the nickname among the industry as “the Princess of Sales.”

At the height of her fame in 1993, the Princess of Wales sued a media company for printing photos of her while she was at the gym. The case was settled out of court, and Diana avoided testifying.

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On 31 August 1997, Diana died in a car crash in Paris after paparazzi chased the vehicle she was in with then-boyfriend, film producer Dodi Fayed. After her death, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) beefed up its Editor’s Code of Practice to what was called “the toughest set of press regulations anywhere in Europe.” The most significant and strictest amendment concerned children’s privacy, which extended protection to all children while they were in education, or under the age of 16.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.