q: The photographs of the Queen relaxing weren't published?
a: No they weren't published. I don't think there was an ethos of publishing
photographs behind the scenes the same way as there is today.
q: Can you give any examples of how you would take what you thought was a
great picture and then it wouldn't appear in the paper?
a: I was once on the moors above Balmoral and it was raining and the Queen was
wearing a plastic hat and a raincoat and a kilt and she trudged across the top
of the hills in the pouring rain, talked to everyone, leaned against Land
Rovers and climbed over stiles and there were great, great, great pictures of
this, really good fun pictures and it was archived -- just not enough interest
to publish them.
q: Can you describe what happened when you photographed the Queen coming off
a: Yes I'd gone to Dyce Airport for The Express and the Queen was flying in to
start her holiday in Balmoral and, as the Queen stepped from the Royal Andover
aircraft, a gust of wind blew her dress up. I took her photograph and the
Queen straightened her dress, got to the bottom of the steps, shook hands with
the airport manager and glanced at me and let me take a close-up photograph,
got into the car, sat by the window and waved to the airport manager as she
left and off she drove to Balmoral.
I drove back to the office and, when I got to the office in Aberdeen, the
secretary said Sir Max Aitken's secretary has been on the phone for you. She
will phone back. And within five minutes she phoned up and she said: "Mr.
Lennox, I believe you were out photographing the Queen arriving at Dyce
Airport." And I said, "Yes, I was." "And I believe there was a bit of an
incident at the airport." I said, "Yes, there was." "Could you describe the
incident?" I said, "The Queen's dress blew up." And she said, "Well, Sir Max
would like you to send the film undeveloped down to London and we will collect
it." I said, "Well unfortunately the film's in the developer already." And
she said, "Well, I take it Sir Max can trust you not to print any photographs,
that you will take them straight to Dyce Airport and inform me which plane
they're going to be coming down to London on" -- which I did.
q: What did that tell us about the period?
a: I think that was of the period. I don't think the Express would have
published a photograph of the Queen's underwear. It just wouldn't have
happened. I mean I took it as a reflex. I didn't think about it too much. I
was going to pass that problem onto someone else. I was a very junior
photographer in those days but it was in keeping with the times.
q: In terms of publicity, did the Royals hold more of their own cards in
a: They held all of the cards. They didn't even tell us which game they were
playing with the cards. We just watched them as head of a table. We were not
invited in at all. We were allowed to take photographs of the Queen opening
fetes and going behind a counter selling jam once a year, but that was it.
q: Now when do you think that it began to change?
a: I think with the Queen's sister. Princess Margaret was the first to look
racy. She was interesting. The Express Diary loved having photographs of her
and wherever she went -- photographers would follow. She clubbed. She went
out at night. So I think the Express and the Mail and other papers had people
wandering around the clubs at night hoping to catch her.
q: Did the media interest begin with Princess Margaret's affair with Roddy
a: I think it was slightly before that. Princess Margaret married a
photographer and he dressed a bit differently from the other Royals. He did
things differently. He still had a job in town. That was different. They used
to go out to the Caribbean, be seen on the beaches. They both had tans. She
would wear a short skirt and he would wear a white suit. The marriage broke
up, which was sensational. We didn't think how sensational it was looking back
on it. And then, of course, she had her friend Roddy Llewellyn. She went out
to Mustique with him and had an affair with him which was fascinating. So the
rules were changing. Royals didn't get divorced. That was one of the rules.
Royals didn't have their photographs taken off duty. That was another rule.
They were both traded in very quickly.
q: Did Margaret appear to care very much about being photographed?
a: I think she knew it was coming. I think she knew she was going to be
followed and photographed. She didn't ever squeal about it, she accepted it.
She tried to be dignified but we had photographs of her in her swimsuit and
Roddy in his swimming trunks and these were sensational times. She accepted
it. She didn't ever complain. It was her lifestyle. She wanted to break away
from the Palace confines, which she did very successfully and therefore she was
photographed in public and was fair game. I think there was a little bit of
willfulness with the Princess. I think she wanted to be seen to be different.
She led a Bohemian style of life. I think she became a little heroine with
some people for doing this and she enjoyed it.
q: Tell me about the first time you spotted the Princess of Wales.
a: It was the morning of the Braemar Games and the Royal pack were up in
Aberdeen. When I say pack there were seven or eight photographers who
regularly followed Prince Charles around. And we would always try and find out
who the house guests were and who he would squire to the Braemar Games. We
would run around the riverbank early in the morning because Prince Charles
would always try to get a morning's fishing in before the Games and we would
scatter up and down the banks trying to find him.
We did find him fishing and he had someone with him. It was a blond girl and
within seconds of us arriving she got up, turned her back, walked away from us
in a straight line while Charles continued to fish as if nothing had happened
and stood behind a tree. We thought, "oh who's this?" We couldn't really see
much of the girl because she had a cap on pulled down and a Barbour pulled up.
But within a few seconds a hand appeared round a tree holding a compact with a
mirror and she held it round a tree to look to see where we were and used that
to walk away, keeping the tree between us and herself and we thought, "my God,
who is this? This is different." Normally the girl would sit on the
riverbank looking fairly dizzy and make some half-hearted attempt to shoo us
away. This girl did not want to be photographed and she was very smart and she
knew what she was doing. I mean to, to pull out a stunt like that, to think of
doing that, we thought we're up against something here.
Later on that weekend James Whitaker flew down on an aircraft to London and
Diana Spencer was on the plane. He almost ruled out the fact that there was
going to be any romance there because her sister had already been one of
Charles girlfriends. But he knew who she was and we used the picture on the
Monday morning. They weren't very good, very poor pictures, but it was the
first photograph and the first inkling that the two of them were together.
q: What kind of relationship do the photographers -- the pack -- have to one
a: The pack -- in the early days -- was seven or eight people, very
competitive -- each one looking for a scoop on Prince Charles. It was mystery
blond hunting -- unnamed girls with Charles. It was very competitive, but once
the chase was over we all got together and would discuss what had happened --
who we thought it was, whether we'd seen her before. Was this a real romance?
Would it peter out? Where were we going to find out about the latest girl.
And the next day, we would get up, go our separate ways, chase up and down
riverbanks or on foreign trips or even hire models to jump into the sea with
him in Australia. We did all the bits and pieces. It was great fun. I think
Charles enjoyed a bit of it. He once made a very rude and sexist remark. He
said he could always tell when it was a set-up. The really beautiful girls
were a set-up and the plain ones did it of their own volition, he said.
q: What did you call yourselves?
a: Snappers, I think was the most common expression. We would call someone a
good snapper or a good, sometimes photographer but he's a good snapper or a
good operator. A good operator was more than just a photographer. He was a
wily, cunning, horrible man to be up against. So there was all this sort of
thing. It was a bit of a game.
q: What was your relationship like with Diana in the early days?
a: In the early days Diana was very young and we had a lot of sympathy for her,
although we did want photographs and we did want to chat to her, but there was
rules about how we did this. If the cameras were up she would go about her
business in a straight-forward way. The shy Di is a myth. That came about
because she would put her head down and her hair would fall over her face and
she would glance up every now and then to see where we were. So this made her
look very coy, very shy. She's never been shy and she's never been coy and
she's never been silly. But when the cameras would go down she would chat,
laugh, look at Private Eye, see what they're saying about her, sit in the
cars, joke about how she'd lost us the day before and then she would talk about
serious things. She would talk about things that we'd got wrong and she didn't
ever tell us a lie. If we'd asked her about something -- were you at such and
such, she would say "No, I wasn't Mr. Whitaker or I wasn't Mr. Lennox."
q: How much did Diana Spencer cooperate with photographers particularly in
the early days?
a: Diana was very good with the photographers in the early days. She's a
naturally polite young lady and wouldn't really be rude to anyone but she knew
to keep her nose clean. She wouldn't do silly things but she would cooperate
and there were certain times we would ask her for particular photographs. I
was very short of close-ups to do a full front page for the engagement and I
waited for her to come back one night. No cameras. The camera was in the car.
She drew up in a little Metro and said, "what's happening?" And I said "I'd
like to do some close-ups of you. I need to do some close-ups of you. I
haven't got a good one, good enough to go on the front page for the
engagement." She said, "what engagement?" I said, "well if it ever does
happen we need something really good and I'd hate to put a duff photograph on
the front page." And she said, "what would you need?" I said, "I need just you
happy smiling, a big close-up." And she said, "if you are at the flat at seven
o'clock tomorrow morning and there's no one else there I will come down and do
your close-ups but I'll go into the car and I'll put the window down and you
can have as many as you want."
And I was there the next morning and no one else was there. She came down,
walked to her car, didn't say a word, got in her car, rolled down the window,
started it up, hands on the steering wheel and looked right down the lens and I
got a dozen very good, happy, smiling close-ups. But she would have to tow the
line. She couldn't overstep the mark. There were things like the see-through
skirt. That was inadvertent. She didn't do that on purpose and the
photographers didn't realize it was happening themselves until it was happening
and from then on she was very careful.
q: Can you describe the incident when she was being harassed by a
a: There was an occasion where I was driving behind Diana and she was
difficult to follow because she would play the traffic light game. She would
draw up at the traffic lights and sit there all the way through green and, when
they went to orange, she would shoot across. Now that's all right for first
across but second across you tend to hit buses and so on. So we would sit there
praying that we would get across with her because she was a fast driver and she
would disappear. One day I was following and I saw, she stopped, double
parked, head down on the steering wheel and I thought oh crikey. She was
nineteen years old and I have children the same age and I thought it's too
much. I've done it now. Jumped out the car and ran up, knocked on the window
and I said, "are you all right?" And she was a bit tearful and she said, "it's
not you Mr. Lennox. I can always lose you but I can't lose the Frenchman on
the motorbike. He'll be with me all day and all I want to do I promise you is
go and visit my grandmother, Lady Fermoy." And I said, "I'll lose him for you.
Just drive around slowly and I'll lose him."
So she drove around and eventually the Frenchman was on my inside, so I drove
my car over, blocked him in and she drove off. I just gave her one flash of
the headlights and she was gone. He then kicked lumps out of my car up and
down, calling me unprofessional, going berserk at what I'd done to him and I
went back to the flat and sat outside the flat. She came back an hour later
and just mouthed "thank you." So it was a bit of old-fashioned chivalry which
has almost gone.
q: Now were you at Sandringham when Prince Charles showed his irritation with
a: Yes, I was there and we didn't take it too seriously. He came up to us and
wished us all a happy New Year-- and a very bad one for all of your editors.
It was probably preying on his mind because his bride-to-be was getting a lot
of attention and I think they were just beginning to realize that the attention
he'd been getting as a bachelor, going round the world looking for a new wife
or whatever, and the beautiful Diana -- that the rules were changing. Instead
of seven photographers being there, there were seventy. And some occasions the
whole event was wrecked by the number of photographers being there. Before,
there had been one from each paper and a couple of freelancers. Now they were
coming from France, Germany. The Australians were sending their own
photographers. Americans were coming to have a look at her. The Japanese
were turning up. I mean for us it was a bit of a nightmare because we had a
fairly easy time up until then but when you have seventy photographers all
squeezed into one spot, trying to climb up ladders, pushing and shoving with
each other. I mean it was a new game and elbows were what you kept yourself
q: What was the effect of the Princess of Wales on the front page of the
a: It was devastating. Anyone covering the Princess of Wales was guaranteed
front page day after day. It was funny sometimes. She would go to Australia
or New Zealand and from the photographs you saw nothing of Australia or New
Zealand. We cropped everything out. All we had was the Princess of Wales
smiling and sometimes it was her dress but it was seldom anything to do with
the country she was visiting and it was seldom anything to do with the visit.
It was always how she was looking, what she may have worn that day. She was
radiant one day. They were running out of superlatives for her. It was crazy
time and the freelancers made a fortune. She was just a sensation in the media
at the time.
q: And what did it do to the sales of The Star at the time?
a: The Star was a very new, brash newspaper, sort of born out of the Express
and we went hell for leather. We saw how much Diana meant to the public and we
virtually became a gazette of her movements, whatever she did. It didn't
matter what else was happening in the world, we had to do Diana and this was a
paper with a very small budget and most of it was pitched straightforwardly at
following the Princess of Wales and nothing was ever held back. In the early
days the Star's circulation went up to 780,000 copies and not all of them
responsible for the Princess of Wales for goodness sake -- I would be wrong to
say that -- but she was a big part of the coverage in those days and people
loved the Princess of Wales. They called her Lady Di in those days and it was
Di, Di, Di. It was an absolute sensation.
q: Can you take us through exactly what happened when you went to the island
in the Bahamas.
a: We heard the Princess of Wales was going to Eleuthera and the Prince of
Wales had been in Eleuthera before for a holiday and we naturally were going to
follow and James Whitaker phoned up Michael Shea and said "Michael, we're off
to Eleuthera." And he said "Look old chap, there's not much point in going.
You'll get nothing. The Bahamian Police have promised full security and they're
going to turn it all on to make sure they have a holiday in peace without you
chaps getting there -- but do come along. You're welcome. You'll get a very
nice picture of her arriving at the airport and when she leaves, seven days
later, you'll get a great picture of her leaving with a suntan." So we booked
up and flew out, arrived a couple of days in advance knowing other papers would
be there. I think the Mirror chose not to go because of the Palace saying you
won't get anything but we knew the Sun had, who were the big rivals, and that
we were going and there would be freelancers there. So we went out there to do
a recce. I mean you didn't do these things lightly. We found out that they
were going to a different little island off Eleuthera -- it's called Windermere
Island -- So we bought a map of the island and worked out how we would get
there using compass references because there is a scrub jungle there and there
is no point of reference and you're crawling through spiny jungle. It takes
hours to go through and we had a lot of equipment to carry and a lot of water.
We knew that the Sun were up to the same thing and I knew that the Sun
photographer, Arthur Edwards, had been before and been successful and
photographed Prince Charles water-skiing, so they had an advantage.
So we got up at five in the morning, put on thick sweaters and gloves -- this
is to walk through great heat -- but the spines in the jungle just tore you to
pieces. We made our way through and about eight in the morning we could hear
the Sun crashing through the undergrowth the same way we were doing.
Eventually we got to an area of beach or mangrove swamp at the waterside. We
could see a beach across from us which we reckoned was the one that we'd seen
the day before. We'd gone out to the island, photographed the house they were
going to stay in and had that picture standing by. We heard the Sun arriving,
knew there was not much we could do about that and from checking the day before
we'd found the Sun had hired a light aircraft to fly back to the main island.
So we thought we're really up against it. James and I discussed the tactics.
We thought if they get a picture of her, I'll give it to James. He will flee
the island on a light aircraft, taxi aircraft, go to the mainland where there's
a local agency. They would transmit the picture back to London for us and this
is just to keep up with the Sun. It would have been much wiser to hold on
another day but competition was so great.
Anyway within ten minutes of us getting there a party arrived on the beach
consisting of Lord Romsey, his wife, Diana and someone else and Diana was
wearing a beach robe and within seconds she took the beach robe off and was
wearing a bikini underneath. I was watching this through a lens, the lens of a
drainpipe and my colleague, James Whitaker was watching through his binoculars.
And as I was trying to take the first couple of photographs, there was a mile
of water between us and the water, the heat was rising off it and the image was
shimmering and James said Oh shit because we'd never seen her like this before
and we knew this was a controversial picture. So I shot a roll of film of
Diana with Romsey and gave that to James who then disappeared, just crashed out
the jungle. Then Charles arrived and the two of them got into the water. They
were bobbing about, just their heads about the water, kissing and I kept
shooting this and I was shooting color and black and white knowing the
magazines we could sell to recover all the cost of the trip and so on. And it
was great stuff. Within an hour or so the Sun team arrived and said, "Well
what do you think of that?" I said, "Terrific." and we chatted for a minute
and they said, "where is James?" And I said, "Oh he's probably gone off into
the jungle to do some business." Well Arthur just exploded and he said, "has
he gone back to transmit pictures?" And I said, "oh I don't know Arthur." I'm
was being very cagey and he said, "because we're not. We canceled our plane."
I said, well I don't know what they're doing. It might not be successful."
Well the two of them disappeared really angry because they were going to come
and tell us they were good boys and they were going to keep it for another day.
But it didn't work out that way. So I stayed on for another hour and shot a
lot more and packed up and carted the stuff back out the jungle.
q: So who got the picture in first and what was the reaction of the Palace and
a: Well, we got the pictures in all editions. A front page picture of Diana
on a beach, The Sun, unfortunately, only got it in the last edition in Fleet
Street which maybe a few people had seen but not very many. There was a huge
uproar in London, which I wasn't aware of. I'd gone to bed that night,
transmitted, and I still had more films to go of the kissing in the water,
Diana throwing a towel over Charles head and wrestling him to the floor and
real good horseplay pictures of them on the beach. I get up the next morning. I
didn't want to call from the hotel because I knew the police would be looking
for me by this stage. So I went to a call box at the airport and phoned up,
got a reversed charge through and I said to my Picture Editor, you know, I
shouted down the phone, "Bob, it's Ken." "Where are you?" So I told him I was
on the island and I said, "I've got great, great pictures. They're much better
than yesterdays. It's Diana throwing a rug over Charles head, wrestling him
down in the sand, him picking her up in the water, heads bobbing, kissing." And
Bob says, "Get off the island." And I said, "Sorry Bob, what's happening?"
"Get off the island. Do not transmit any photographs." I said, "Why Bob? I
know the police, I'll catch a plane off the island. I know the police will be
looking for us now because we've upset and we've beaten their security." And
he said, "No you must get off. It's been raised in Parliament as the blackest
day in British journalism." Well my heart dropped and it was a really mean
I then did get a taxi over to the mainland but couldn't book into a hotel
because my name was all over the front of the paper and they were looking for
me. The poor guy at Reuters had his room raided and they found one of my
prints on his transmitter. It said Ken Lennox in the bottom of it. And they
arrested the guy and put him in jail. Despite his protestations they thought he
was Ken Lennox and they put him in a jail and held him there and the Americans
get really upset if one of their people have been held for taking a photograph
of, so he was freed and flown to Miami where he was treated like a long lost
hero coming home. Meanwhile I was dodging about on the main island with a
suitcase, which eventually I buried in the sand and sort of walked about. I'd
have been fairly obviously walking about with a suitcase and a bag full of
cameras. I went to a local agency and this little Scots lady - I think her
name was Kerr said "Oh Mr. Lennox. I have been told by the police to, the
minute you come into the office to phone them and tell them you're here. I'll
give you five minutes start" she said. So I disappeared again and eventually
caught a flight directly back to the States. But back in London Lloyd Turner,
the late Lloyd Turner who died just recently was fired at eleven o'clock in the
morning by the proprietor but he was reinstated early in the afternoon. Oh
there was a huge fuss in London.
q: Could you just describe how Michael Shea reacted to the photographs and why
he was so upset by these particular pictures.
a: The biggest upset of the pictures was that it had been announced that the
Princess of Wales was pregnant. She was about four or five months pregnant.
But a lot of people thinking back thought she had a huge, big tummy. She
didn't have. She had a little tummy. A little normal tummy that lots of
ladies have but because she was pregnant -- that was what it was all about.
Pregnant Princess photographed in a bikini on the beach. It didn't matter
that two hundred other people on the beach had all photographed her. It was a
public beach and they had been lining up to take her photographs but bad old
Press photographers had done it. Oh I was in trouble, big trouble at the time.
I was exiled. I was sent to the Hertz Mountains in Austria to photograph
Richard Burton making a film and I was there for weeks.
q: What was the Queen's reaction?
a: Well she issued the statement about the blackest days in British journalism.
MPs raised it in Parliament. The Press Council sort of got up the lynch mob
for us and when I eventually got back into circulation again I was sent up to
cover the Queen at Balmoral-- the Games there. I got there and there was a
whole group -- twenty, thirty photographers there -- and the Queen who has an
eagle eye spotted me and sent a detective over to me, who took me aside and
said, "Her Majesty has seen you here and doesn't want you here." And I said,
"but I've got a pass, you know, I'm doing it officially for my paper." And he
said, "this town isn't big enough for the two of you. You're coming on the trip
to Italy. If I were you I would make yourself very scarce." And I looked over
the detective's shoulder. The Queen was thirty meters away but she wasn't
watching the tossing of the caber or the highland dancing. She was watching my
reaction and I picked up my bags, put my cameras away and got out of town.
q: What about Royal holidays?
a: Well holidays are supposed to be off-limits. We're not supposed to be there
but we are there and we're there if it's a foreign holiday -- by right to be
there. So what happens is there's a little bit of shuffling goes on and when
we all turn up Michael or whoever would come down onto the beach and say "Look
chaps, this is a private holiday. You can't do this." And we would say,
"Michael, can we have one photograph to show that the couple are in Kenya or
wherever and we will all go away?" "I will put it to them" he would say, "but I
must have promises from each one of you as people, not as newspapers, that
you'll all be on the next flight out and I want assurances from anyone who
comes to do this beach photograph that you'll be gone the next day." We would
then consult our offices and say "We have been told we can have one good beach
picture and if we get that we've got to clear off." And normally they would
accept that and we would go back and wait and Michael or whoever would come
back down to the beach and say, "Right chaps, eleven o'clock tomorrow. Fifteen
minutes only. It will be a walk along the beach. No swimming costumes, no
funny hats. We will just do a straightforward picture." And we would say, "Oh
we need the funny hats." And we would try to argue up the picture. "We need
them in the water. We need this." If the children were there, "we need the
children with them." And it would be a bartering job. I mean it was an Arab
Souk out in the middle of wherever we were and it was too and fro and too and
fro. Then whoever it was would go back and the rules would be laid out on each
side and we would get some form of picture.
If the picture was rotten, we wouldn't go away. And if it wasn't, if they
didn't keep to their end of the bargain we would say that it was hopeless. They
were six hundred yards away. They were behind bushes most of the time. You
didn't play the game. "But you promised to go away." "Well we didn't get a
picture worth publishing." "But it's in all the papers this morning." "But
it's not on the front pages it's on page thirteen," we would say and it would
go on like this. There would be a game which was played to the limits. Then we
would go off. It was the same with skiing. No matter what they did they would
come and pose for pictures and they would get rid of ninety percent of us at
that time. But then the real paparazzi would stay on. They wouldn't even come
to the first one because they couldn't sell that one because everyone else
would have it, but they could sell the one three days later when Charles was
peeling grapes for Diana. That's where they would make their money.