DE AT H OF A P R I N C E S S

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Just after mid­night on Sun­day Au­gust 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, were killed in a car crash in Paris. Ken Len­nox, pic­ture ed­i­tor of was at home get­ting ready for bed when he re­ceived the most dra­matic phone call of his life…

What was the big­gest decision you had to make as a pic­ture ed­i­tor?

The big­gest night of my ca­reer I was at home. Just after mid­night, I got a phone call from a French agency say­ing Diana had been in­jured in a car crash. Dodi might be dead, Diana was fine – she was talk­ing to a doc­tor at the scene – and they had photographs. Well, I left in my sleep­ing T-shirt, slip­pers on my feet. I got into the of­fice, saw the pho­tos and a friend who’s an ed­i­tor at ITN phoned and said, “What do you make of this?”

I said, “I’ve got the pic­tures in front of me. Have you seen any­thing?” He said, “No, I haven’t.” “Well,” I said, “they’re quite sen­sa­tional. She’s be­ing tended by a doc­tor, she looks un­marked but she’s sit­ting in the well of the car.” So, we agreed to keep in touch.

I got pho­tog­ra­pher in Paris to go to the scene. I phoned ev­ery pho­tog­ra­pher I could that night: “Arthur, get to Paris,” all this kind of stuff. I phoned the ed­i­tor and told him what I had. I said, “I’m quite happy to be here tonight, I want some­one to come in to man the phones. She’s fine. I don’t know what her in­juries are like but ap­par­ently she was talk­ing to the doc­tor.”

The girl came in to an­swer the phones and she couldn’t stop cry­ing, so I’m an­swer­ing the phones and peo­ple are phon­ing in from all over the shop and I’m try­ing to phone the agency and I can’t raise them, but I’ve got the photographs.

I get a call from ITN say­ing, “We’ve heard she’s in a bad way. They’ve stopped the am­bu­lance at the mouth of the tun­nel and re­sus­ci­tated her.”

I said, “Well I’ve got later news than that. She’s ac­tu­ally at the Pi­tié-Salpêtrière Hos­pi­tal and the pho­tog­ra­pher has just phoned me to say he thinks it’s very se­ri­ous be­cause he’s just seen the first or sec­ond sec­re­tary of the (Bri­tish) Em­bassy come out of a room with another bloke and slump down a wall onto his back­side.” I told him that and said, “You need to be pre­pared for some­thing dread­ful to hap­pen.”

At about three in the morn­ing, we heard that some­one from the For­eign Of­fice was pre­par­ing a state­ment. So I phoned the chair­man and said, “I’ve got word that Diana could die, or is dy­ing, or might even be dead, and the For­eign Of­fice are pre­par­ing a state­ment for the press.”

He ap­peared ten min­utes later, and I said “Just in case, I don’t know what the have got, but if Phil Hall (who was the ed­i­tor at the time) pub­lishes a pho­to­graph from the crash and Diana dies, we will be in so much trou­ble.”

The and the same floor, so he ran into the

and came back a few min­utes later say­ing, “Ken, I don’t think he’s got pic­tures but I’ve told him un­der no cir­cum­stances must we use any.”

were on But you’d paid £300,000 for those pic­tures!

That’s what they asked for. It was a mil­lion francs. I said I would pay it there and then, and ini­tially they would be avail­able for 24 hours and then sold again. If I wanted to use them after that I would need to pay what­ever the go­ing rate was. How did the agency ar­rive at that fig­ure?

It was just a fig­ure he pulled from the top of his head. A mil­lion francs, and I just said yes.

I was called to give ev­i­dence at Diana’s in­quest in London and I was quizzed closely about who I had been in con­tact with. The judge said to me, “Mr Len­nox, I find that to be a huge amount of money, how can you jus­tify £300,000?” I said, “I thought it was a bar­gain, my lord.” “Oh, ex­pand on that please, Mr Len­nox!” “When Posh Spice mar­ried David Beck­ham, that was a pop singer and a foot­baller, and I think that was £1.2 mil­lion. I thought that the mother of the fu­ture King of Eng­land be­ing in­jured in a car crash – I never thought for a minute when he sold them to me that she was dead – when he asked for £300,000, I couldn’t be­lieve my luck.” “And only one use?” “Yes.”

In­spect­ing the light dra­goons The Princess per­forms her role as Colonel-in-Chief

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