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Lionel
By
August 26, 2017

Diana, Princess of Wales

It would be wrong of me to ignore my past with the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Princess of Wales's death.

 

I spent approaching 20 years as a Buckingham Palace accredited photographer specialising in covering the British Royal Family's comings and goings in the UK and around the globe.

Thanks to them I travelled to in excess of 70 countries and saw those countries very much through their eyes, it was a very exciting time for me, a young photographer in my twenties.


When the young Diana appeared on the Royal scene it really did feel like an enormous breath of fresh air, here was this beautiful young aristocrat, shy, stylish the archetypal Sloane Ranger and most importantly she was fantastic to photograph.


Throughout my career, my photographs were published in magazines around the world, the ultimate prize was always to have the cover of a magazine, I had a few of those!

But amongst the many covers, a few stand out, my picture was the first 'Diana' cover on Life Magazine, for any photographer that is a highly prestigious publication.



Life Cover by Lionel Cherruault

Time magazine used my picture on their cover following the Prince and Princess of Wales' tour of Italy, weirdly they threw a party for me to celebrate that fact at the old Time-Life Building on the corner of New Bond Street, I got to meet the Time Magazine picture editor, extraordinary times…

 


Time Cover by Lionel Cherruault

 

I was also covering the Italian tour for Bunte magazine in Germany with three other photographers, at the end of the tour in Venice we photographed them on the deck of Britannia before they departed. The pictures were considered so important and we were so close to their deadline that Burda (the publishers) sent the Bunte Lear jet to pick us up in Venice and fly back to Hamburg with our film. It was certainly close to a James Bond like existence! Nowadays there would be no Lear jet just a laptop on my knee connected to a mobile phone sending my pictures to editors.


I was commissioned by Vogue London to cover their first, and longest, Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1983, four weeks of gruelling flights crisscrossing the Australian continent then two weeks in New Zealand. On their next visit to Australia my picture of them dancing at a function in Melbourne in 1985 was used on the cover of Paris Match.

 

 


Paris Match Cover by Lionel Cherruault

For such a young woman to have handled the level of interest shown in her was going to be difficult, from our perspective she handled it all with great aplomb and made all the people she met very happy indeed.

 

Her death was a great shock to all of us who spent so much time photographing her.

 

We all remember where we were on hearing she had died. I was called at my London home late that night by my agency in Paris and told, it wasn't really until the following morning that I realised the enormity of her death and its emotional effect on me was a surprise. Leading very separate lives we were only a year or two apart in age and we had pretty much grown up together, it was a dreadfully sad time.

 

I have taken many hundreds of thousands of photographs of Princess Diana in almost every part of the world and I still return to what is still my favourite picture I have taken of her, this one picture on a wet drizzly day in New Zealand pretty much sums it all up for me.

 

 

Princess Diana portrait by Lionel Cherruault


A young life lost too early.


Lionel Cherruault

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Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.  Diana, Princess of Wales