The Daily Telegraph

Diana biographer paid off photograph­er to keep secret


A BIOGRAPHER of Diana, Princess of Wales paid off a photograph­er so he would not reveal she secretly co-operated with the writing of the book.

Andrew Morton, author of Diana: Her True Story, published in 1992, said the Princess’s involvemen­t was almost made public after she mistakenly gave him a picture of herself that was taken by the award-winning photograph­er Terence Donovan.

The biography was written using secret recordings from the late Princess that she gave to her friend and middle man, Dr James Colthurst, to pass to the royal biographer. It was not until after her death that Mr Morton revealed the princess’s involvemen­t.

Recounting the near miss in Radio Times, Mr Morton said that alongside pictures taken by the late French photograph­er Patrick Demarcheli­er, which were approved for use in the biography, Diana had accidental­ly given him Mr Donovan’s photograph of her in a tiara.

After the author serialised the first extract of the biography in The Sunday Times – with Mr Donovan’s picture on the front page of the paper – the photograph­er reportedly called his publisher and informed them of the misattribu­tion to Mr Demarcheli­er, before threatenin­g to reveal Diana’s co-operation.

“He wanted £70,000 in payment, at a time when the going rate was £500 for a cover shot,” said Mr Morton, 70.

“Donovan had us by the crown jewels. He told us that if the price wasn’t met, he would tell the world that Diana was involved in the book as she was the only person to have been given a copy of the shot.”

He added: “All our attempts to camouflage her involvemen­t would have come to naught. She’d no longer have ‘wiggle room’ to work out her future arrangemen­ts with her husband and the Royal family.

“After some bareknuckl­e negotiatio­n, a price that ensured Donovan’s silence was settled upon.”

Mr Morton’s revelation comes ahead of the release of the sixth and final season of The Crown, which will document Diana’s final days and death in August 1997.

Elizabeth Debicki, the actress who plays Diana, told the magazine that re-enacting the princess’s final car chase through Paris was “completely unbearable”.

The first episodes of the final series will debut on Netflix on Nov 16, with the next batch following on Dec 14.

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