Diana and the paparazzi

June 29, 2007

diana.jpgA Channel 4 documentary screened earlier this year on Princess Diana’s last moments in a Paris tunnel 10 years ago caused controversy because photographs taken by the chasing paparazzi were aired.

The princess’ sons William and Harry unsuccessfully appealed to the channel not to show them.

Channel 4 defended its programme, saying the photos shown were an important and accurate eyewitness record of how events unfolded after the crash, and that the identities of those in the car had been blacked out.

The programme, “Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel”, looked at the role of the paparazzi who have been blamed for their part in the high-speed chase.

It showed that the paparazzi were hundreds of metres behind the car when it crashed into a pillar, and contrary to reports, they did not impede an off-duty doctor attending the princess.

Diana was the prototype Royal celebrity, according to the former editor of “Vanity Fair”, Tina Brown, who has just brought out a book on the princess.When she died, her place in front of the cameras was taken by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Brown argues.

They court the media and repel it at the same time.

Diana’s death did not quell the paparazzi, just as it did not stop us buying the latest lurid stories or looking out for the best long-lens pictures.

She encapsulated the public’s fascination with celebrity and tell-all confessions and opened the way for the Heat magazine and YouTube generation.

But do people feel any more sympathetic towards the paparazzi?

Is it fair to criticise their methods in general when their pictures are so devoured by readers of celebrity-dominated magazines?

And don’t celebrities court the limelight?

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