q: Now when you started to cover the Royal Family--the Royals-- fairly
full-time with James, what were you specifically after?
a: The Editor of the Sun at the time was keen that we find who would be the
next Queen of England. I mean Prince Charles had said in a speech that he
thought thirty was a good time to get married. He was now twenty eight. He'd
just left the Navy or was about to leave the Navy and they thought that perhaps
we should be looking more closely at who he's going out with. And with James we formed a royal team and we went to the
polo. I mean where else did you go but you went to the polo? And I got the
first week there a picture in the paper. The second week a picture in the
paper. I thought God, this is brilliant because being a news photographer on a
national newspaper it's hard to get pictures in the paper. I think people
think it's easy but it's desperately hard and difficult and of course this was
happening every week. Prince Charles feeding his polo ponies. Prince Charles
playing the fool. And to his credit Prince Charles gave me some really good
pictures at the time and a lot of them exclusive. And so I built up a kind a
good rapport with him, not obviously with my feet under the table and not tea
at Windsor Castle, but certainly it was Mr.Edwards this and Mr. Edwards that
and he'd pass the joke. And he would be reading the paper and he would say 'Oh
I saw you had that picture in this week'.
And I remember one time when I photographed him putting ice down this
girl's front of her dress and she put ice down his back, and then he put ice
down her back and this ran on Page 1 of the Sun and about three days later he
said 'Oh I see you did the decent thing' because the picture we showed in the
paper was him putting ice down the girl's back. And I said 'Oh thanks very
much, sir' but what he didn't realize was that the picture of him putting down,
ice down the girl's front - and she was a very big girl - was out of focus. So
he thought I'd as I say done the decent thing and I didn't say anything else
but it was excellent those years.
I can only begin to say that he was a real fun person to photograph. He was
full of quips. I remember after the Live Aid concert and going to watch him
play polo the next day and he said 'What did you think of the concert
yesterday?' 'I thought it was fantastic.' He said 'Yes.' He said 'I think
that Mr. Geldoff should be made a General.' And he was that switched on and he
cared about politics. I remember after Mr. Callaghan lost the election in '79
asking me what did I think. Why did I think Mr. Callaghan lost? And he was a
very good guy to be involved with and I really enjoyed those years
q: Now Ashley Walton and Harry Arnold, who were with you in India when the
sort of Di phenomenon really arrived if you like. Can you describe a
conversation you had with him, what he said to you and what the people that you
were with replied to his questions?
a: The Prince of Wales you're talking about?
a: It was 1980 and Diana had just come on the scene and we were kind of
hoping that this was the one. In fact we all felt in our bones that this was
the one and we were at a cocktail party at the British High Commission in and I
think it was Paul Callan actually from the Express - he was then working for
the Daily Mirror - said how lovely he thought Lady Diana was and he said 'Oh
how very kind of you to say so' we sort of carried on the conversation and he
said, because he said 'I've got to get it right.' He said 'I can't live with a
woman for two years like you possibly could.' He said 'I've got to get it right
first time because if I don't you'll be the first to criticize me.' And then we
thought this is the one. Then we knew that he was obviously thinking about
proposing marriage and he was thinking along the terms that this was going be
q: Harry Arnold was very interesting about this because he said at the time
you all thought the question meant why do you think that I Prince Charles think
this is the one? But actually you decided many years later Harry Arnold thought
that perhaps he was actually genuinely asking your opinion that why were you
and the press so convinced that she was so special?
a: Yeah. Yeah. Well.
q: Do you agree with that?
a: No I don't actually. I don't actually normally disagree with Harry
because I've got a lot of regard for him and I like him very much. I actually
feel that he wanted to discuss it and he wanted to say the reason why he was
binding his time I think because it was obvious the way he was hiding her. I
mean every other girlfriend we'd always photographed them together. I mean
Sabrina Guinness and all of those girls we'd managed to get photographers with
the Prince with them but Prince Charles was hiding Diana big time. It was not,
I don't think there was one picture of the two of them or there were very few
pictures of the two of them together before they were, fully announced the
So Prince Charles had been very protective of this girl and Diana was
saying all the right things and she changed her car. I remember she had a
Volkswagen and she changed it to a Mini and she was doing all the right things.
So everything seemed right. This was the one and I think Prince Charles was
still uncertain whether to go down that road and he was probably asking our
opinion but at the same time he was telling us why he was in fact dwelling a
q: What was your relation like with her before their engagement was
announced? James Whitaker used to go and sit on the stairs in her flat with
her and chat to her and all that sort of thing. How accessible did you find
a: Well I found her charming and in fact I remember she asked me, stopped
me in the street one day and she said 'Why do you think why all this
harassment?' And I said 'Well, I think because you're going to be the Prince's
bride.' And she said 'Why?' She said 'Just because I don't have a past?' And I
said 'It could be one of the reasons.' I said 'You're actually a very pretty
girl.' And she actually said, and I said to her at the time, 'Well don't forget
us with a knighthood when you get the job and all that' just as fun and she
laughed and I mean, and I remember saying to her 'Now look, when you walk round
the corner now don't put your head down' because she has this, she had this
awful habit of putting her head down and she still does it today. I said 'Look up and
smile.' And she did and it was a lovely picture.
q: Was she more accessible or just younger than other girlfriends? I mean
was she kind of different in the way that she treated you journalists?
a: She was a lot more fun. I mean she was a lot more fun and she coped
with it brilliantly. I think when the amount of harassment she had especially
getting to near the end. I mean she was surrounded. Everytime she left her
flat, everytime she left the nursery school, everytime she went away for the
weekend, she was absolutely surrounded by photographers but she coped with it
brilliantly and I thought that's another good reason why this girl's going to
be the one because the others I remember one particular girlfriend ran in the
loo at Heathrow and hid there because she just couldn't cope with it but Diana
was tremendous and I remember coming back from Balmoral with her and flying
back on the plane, the first time she'd, she'd visited and we photographed
them, and we'd photographed her that weekend with him and asking her to pose
for me at Heathrow while we were waiting for the bags to come off and she did.
And and it was just without any inhibitions. She felt that pictures were fine.
And I remember when we discovered her at the nursery she, I said 'Would you
pose?' and she said 'Yes.' She came out and the sun came out and we saw those
beautiful legs but she said 'Yes, sure.' She never ever said a word. She
wouldn't comment at all on the relationship. I think she was being very
discreet. At the same time she was making herself available to the media in
some ways. So I felt that she'd had some training in this, she'd had some
coaching from Prince Charles and he was preparing her for, which turned out to
be I think, which turned out to be the bride the wife, the Princess of Wales.
And we thought probably one day be our Queen.
q: Do you think she was actually just instinctively good with you?
a: I think she was enjoying it. Obviously she was with her flatmates in the
flat in their flat in Colherne Court and there was tremendous interest and I
think she really did enjoy it and she loved that the spotlight on her. I think
a couple of times she broke down. I remember once when there were some French
photographers put some beer casks round her car to stop her getting, so she'd
have to get out and move them which would obviously make pictures and she started to
get upset and I said 'Look don't let them see you cry because that's what they
want.' So there was times when it was a bit stressful for her but most times
she coped with it brilliantly.
q: What was it like for you getting pictures in that area?
a: Well I never ever let the pressure affect me. Obviously Kelvin was, I
mean I don't know if you're going to interview Kelvin, but I mean he was a
phenomenal force, but I had a busy program. I mean I was at polo three days a
week. I had busy engagements. I was always seeing people. I just never seemed
to stop work. I mean you never thought of having the day off if there was a
royal job on. You just wouldn't dream of it because it was just great to be
there. I mean Diana used to go to the Derby, Diana used to go to Ascot. There
was this whole program. She used to go to Wimbledon. I remember the first day
she went to Wimbledon. I mean it was just tremendous and this was a girl who
where you got her, she got off the plane or off the train, where her secretary
would give you a slip of paper saying exactly who made the outfit and what it
was made of and the colors and the materials. I mean this was incredible. This
was everything. I remember the Editor saying 'Have you got the full length?'
You know we had to show everytime, all the readers must see the outfit and it
was just phenomenal and I mean I thoroughly enjoyed it.
No, I didn't feel any pressure. I know Harry did. I know the other
reporters did because they were, I remember the stories were just precious. I
remember we discovered that Diana was going to Australia and it was a page one
story. Now, so what? But it was Diana and she was doing something and so we
all trooped off to Australia with her.
q: Now would you characterize the coverage in the early eighties? It was
mainly kind of fairy tale in fashion was it? What happened if that was the
case, what happened when occasionally a rather unpleasant fact might intrude
like when Harry got the story about the falling down the stairs?
a: Well those stories always were mega stories because, actually I got
that story which I think Harry will agree. No, those stories were still big
stories and I mean because that was the early days of the marriage. I mean
Princess Diana was pregnant and she had this accident. A doctor was called. The
Prince was concerned but they'd had a row I think the week before, a public row
on the estate where she was screaming out the top window at him something 'Go
on, join your mother' you know which anyone who's been married knows exactly
what those rows are like. And so we just thought naturally that this was what
happens with people getting to know each other in the first years of marriage
and didn't think anything more of it. It was, in public they still had, it
seemed to me certainly on that first Australian tour, they just seemed to be
totally in love. I mean they looked at each other like they wanted to rip the
clothes off each other. It was just incredible and there was Prince William
sitting on her knee. I mean it was just a perfect family. I remember at the
same time on that trip when we were in New Zealand and she introduced William
walking and making his first steps. I mean it was fantastic and we had to ask
the picture session to come to an end because it was just magnificent and this
was the Princess just so proud of William and her husband.
It was just sensational and everytime William achieved something, like if
you remember when he first started walking properly, we were called to
Kensington Palace and had this fantastic photo facility. So it was a fantastic
time. Of course what we didn't realize was that while we were sort of devoting
all our energies to Diana, Prince Charles was getting totally neglected. He
was, I remember on a walkabout once we were up in Silverstone and Princess
Diana wasn't there this day, just Prince Charles. And this little boy said 'Ol
Charlie, where's Diana?' And he said 'I'm afraid she's not here today.' He
said 'You'd better go and ask for your money back.'
But this was what it was like. Everybody just wanted to see Diana and I
remember on one occasion, I think it was in Australia or one of those places
the Press Secretary at the time, a very nice Canadian called Victor Chapman,
said to us 'Look please would some of you go and photograph the Prince because
it was embarrassing but you couldn't afford to leave Diana because, she was
just the only one they wanted. They didn't want to see me putting pictures on
the wire the next day of Prince Charles talking and greeting people. They
didn't want to see anything. They just wanted to see the Princess and they just
couldn't get enough of her.
q: But there was an incident wasn't there when you were all on a skiing
holiday which I think, I sort of picked up from your book as being a good
example of how you began to sense that things were not quite right and I'm
thinking of the story about I'll get it in the neck now. Do you remember
a: Yes I do. I remember it very well.
q: Can you describe what happened, that incident?
a: Yes I can. In fact I can tell you what happened then and what I've
consequently found out. We were in Liechtenstein. The Prince and Princess were
guests of the Liechtenstein royals and they'd gone to a ski resort and it was
all fixed. We was going to get this photo facility and off they went up on the
chair lift and I think the Crown Prince at the time, the Liechtenstein Crown
Prince had a problem with his ear and as he went high something happened to his
ear and they stopped the lift, to which Diana fell off and she stormed, I
remember she stormed off you know because she's a bit like that and she skied
down the mountain and she grabbed her skis and she just got into the car and
went back to the castle. And the Prince came down and said 'Oh God, I'll
probably get it in the neck for that thinking that she thought that it was the
Prince who'd stopped it. Of course it was nothing to do with him. He was
completely innocent but the whole of that trip she behaved very
I remember on the same trip we went into Austria where they were skiing. I
think it was a place called St Chrisophe and there was thousands of
photographers. There was French and Italians and Germans and, and of course us
and I remember her in the street with her hands over her head screaming and
he's saying please darling obviously control yourself. You know everybody's
watching you and just get in the car. But she was behaving like she was a
trapped animal. Of course there was a beautiful limousine there and another
one behind it if she wanted to get in. There was no need for it. And he saw
that but she was overreacting or whether she was genuinely upset I don't know
and to this day I don't know but I remember it made a front page picture.
q: But do you remember what he said to you after she'd fallen off the ski
a: Only that 'I'll probably get it in the neck now,'-- that he would get
the blame for it and of course I suppose that made good copy at the time. No
one thought to find out what really happened. It was only that later I spoke to
someone else that was there and he told me exactly what happened but at the
time the Prince was pretty upset because his wife had spoilt this lovely day.
She'd gone storming back and obviously she was upset and he'd have to go back
and calm her down but there was that whole holiday was like that. It was a bad
q: What other indications did you get if you like that Prince Charles was
getting, or his team perhaps or himself were getting concerned about the fact
that he and his activities were rarely reported in the 1980's?
a: Well I didn't care actually at the time to be honest because I had
this Diana bug like everybody else and it was Diana, Diana, Diana. I mean it
was, you were almost dreaming of her at night you were because it was that bad.
So whenever people ask me well would I be covering the Prince, I'd say 'Well
what's she doing?' And that was it. Looking back perhaps I should have
realized but I thought Prince Charles was, I thought he was a superman really.
I still do in a way. I think that he is a very special kind of a person and I
thought that he knew that his wife was an almost, she was almost a goddess. I
mean we were just all worshipping at her feet, and I think I felt that he was
the one that was married to her. He was the lucky guy. He was the husband and
so I felt that he kind of enjoyed in a way seeing his wife getting this
It was only in later years I realized of course that he was very upset by
it all and I remember the last visit to India and Princess Diana was going to
the Taj Mahal and we'd been there I think a decade earlier with the Prince and
I remember Harry I think or --I think it was Kate Adie from the BBC asked him
if he would return one day with his bride. This was long before Diana was his
bride and he said 'Well perhaps I would' and there we were going to the Taj
Mahal and he was going off to a business meeting in Bangalore. Now I know only
one journalist that went to Bangalore with him and it was because he was from a
Sunday newspaper and he was looking for something different but the rest,
everybody else went to the Taj Mahal and that was it.
q: By this time there was obviously a lot of tension in their marriage
which again didn't come out till later on but can you give me concrete examples
of how in the early 1990's but prior to the Morton book the Princess of Wales
always seemed to come out better of any incidents. Now Harry I think
particularly you've described very well and I thought rather movingly about
Canada when the Prince and Princess were in Canada and how through no fault of
your own if you like you reported their reunion with their sons differently. Do
you know what I'm talking about?
a: When, when they came when the children came to Canada? Yes.
q: And so one party greeted them one way and another did another.
a: Yeah, that's right yeah.
q: But the impression that was given to the readers was that one party
appeared to care more than the other.
a: Prince Charles was very upset about that.
q: Well can you, well describe what you saw and what you photographed first
a: Yeah. Okay. Well they, the children were being flown out to, I think it
was Toronto, where the Royal Yacht was berthed and Princess Diana and Charles
were doing an engagement and she was edgy. She wanted to get through this and
obviously she was going to see the children and we were all on the dockside and
the Prince and Princess walked up and the Prince, because he is so well
trained, was greeted by the Admiral on the Yacht and shook hands with the
Admiral which you should always do, but Diana just tore past the Admiral and
the kids rushed into her arms.
And it looked as though Prince Charles was more concerned about doing the
correct thing than seeing his children. Of course he wanted to see them as much
as everybody and they went into the privacy of their quarters and I imagine he
was just as forthcoming but for the photographers there was this wonderful
picture of Diana rushing out with her arms out and the children rushing into
her arms and it looked for everyone that of course you know she was the
wonderful, loving mother, which of course she is. I mean she is a great mother.
I'm not saying she's not. But it looked like Prince Charles was aloof but in
fact Prince Charles was just doing the correct thing first which I quite admire
him for actually.
q: SWhy was it that he appeared to be an aloof and cold person and she
appeared to be this lovely warm person but it wasn't actually reflected in
reality. What was going on if you like?
a: Well he has been a royal all his life. He's been trained to one day
that he will be our sovereign and he's very aware of that and he is in a way
very correct and he would do the right thing before his own feelings and this,
this impression that was given at the time was of course that he was an
Now I knew that personally to be totally untrue. I knew that he was a
very loving father. I knew that, I used to see these little things at
Sandringham where he would be, he'd twinkled, tweaked William's shoulders and
they'd laugh and I remember they were just throwing snowballs and there was
obviously a genuine love there and it was, but Diana is also a very loving
mother and she was always-- I remember once at Windsor and the nanny scolding
William and William breaking down in tears and he ran to his mother and she
comforted him and she caressed him and it was a great show of affection and I
think she genuinely is a great mother but at the same time at that time there
were stories being written that Prince Charles was cold, uncaring. It was
totally untrue. I mean he was at all times he loved those children as much as
q: Did she sort of talk off the record if you like to photographers and
journalists and then her Private Secretary or her Press Secretary would say
'You realize all that was off the record'?
a: Oh absolutely.
q: Did they worry about what she was saying?
a: Absolutely I remember once asking her if she'd have any more children.
And she said 'Oh no, I'm safe' and I remember saying to her, and she said 'Well
I don't know I'm the flavor of the month but if Andrew marries a black girl or
a Catholic they'll be the story.' And I said 'Oh less of the Catholic because
I'm a Catholic.' And she said 'Well, you know, a black person.' And I said
'Well.' She was worried I think that someone would come along and take over
her position as the Number One and I remember she commented on that about it to
me once. Well if you'd have run that story at the time that would have been
damaging. You would have offended black people for a start and you would have
I mean you couldn't dream of doing that so I mean you had to use your loaf
and not get carried away but at the same time I remember when she was suing the
Mirror over the gym pictures and we were at a reception in Tokyo, made it very
clear and she spoke to me for about twenty five minutes that she wanted justice
and I think she's making it clear that if you want to run this story you can
and there's going to be no restrictions. It was, it was a question of she was
going to get her, as I say, get her compensation.
q: What I was thinking about was, but also did she ever say things to you
prior to the Morton book which could have been potentially embarrassing for the
Palace if you'd used them and the Palace tell you not to?
a: Yes, I just gave you an example.
q: Which was?
a: Which was the black and Catholic.
q: Right. Right.
a: I mean that would have been terribly embarrassing for the Palace if that
had been reported. There was many things that she talked about like those
things. I remember saying, her commenting once on how a hundred thousand
pounds was an excessive amount to spend on dresses. It was reported and Prince
Charles said 'Well we couldn't possibly afford that.' And I said 'Well you
probably could if you sold one of your polo ponies.' Well I mean that was
being a bit flippant on my part but I mean you wouldn't dream of coming out and
reporting that because you knew that the next time there was any cocktail party
you'd be excluded from the invitation list.
q: Well I was going to ask you when you heard of the Morton book what did
you think before it was published? I mean what did you think was going on? Did
you ignore it?
a: No, I knew that Andrew Morton was an excellent journalist. I'd worked
with him when he was on the News of the World and I'd worked against him when
he was on the Star and the Mail but the one thing about Andrew is not only is
he a very good writer but he's a very, very bright person and I knew that if he
had a book claiming, well we were starting to believe at the time about the
attempted suicides and the way that he was being, she was being treated by the
Prince then there would be a lot of substance in it and I know that some, many
of the executives at the Sun totally believed this book and we were under I
think the three line whip not to discuss it with anybody in case it got
injuncted. So no, everybody who knew Morton and everybody that knew the scene
realized that this book was going to be sensational and I know Prince Charles's
friends were, were very worried about it and they were, there was I think not a
plot but it was certainly discussed among the friends what could they do to
sort of counter this explosive book that was about to descend on them but
Prince Charles instructed them. He said I don't want you to do a thing. I don't
want you to say a thing. I don't want you to speak on my behalf or in any way
rubbish Diana. He was very honorable about that.
q: That's right. Now it's interesting you said that because the friends had
no reason to ask her about whether she'd done it because you sort of knew that
she had. Is that what you're saying?
a: Yeah. Whether she'd co-operated there's only, she could have only given
permission to co-operate, for someone to co-operate because if you've been
covering the royals as long as I have not one friend would talk, certainly not
talk on the record without permission from the principal not one because they
would be completely ostracized. So I knew that somebody had spoken to her and,
but at the time we didn't know who because he was keeping that very close to
his chest but the fact that the Sunday Times was running every indication that
they'd thoroughly checked the source and it was true.
q: So when you read the book, did you think that the Princess of Wales's
image was improved or harmed by it first of all, initially?
a: I think that she shouldn't have done the book. I think it didn't do her
any good. I don't think she should have done the TV interview and nor the
Prince should have done the TV interview or the book. I think it's done them
nothing but damage. I think they just plummeted in my opinion because you see
one great thing about the royals was that whatever happened they coped, they
took it on the chin. You could say something. It could be probably inaccurate
but you'd never get a comment. They would be aloof from that. They would know
the truth and they were prepared to be happy, to be able to cope with that but
that book I just think was, it just did Prince Charles a lot of harm, it did
her a lot of harm, but more importantly it did the Monarchy an enormous amount
of damage and from which I don't think they've recovered yet and I don't think
they ever probably will.