Diana, Princess of Wales, May 12th, 1993.
People Magazine, one of the most profitable magazines in the U.S said Princess Diana was a major profit center. The magazine said Princess Diana has been on its cover 43 times, more than any other person. Four of those issues sold out at newsstands, representing $1 million above a normal week’s sales. One special issue, called “The Diana Years” brought in about $2.5 million in worldwide newsstand sales and about another $1 million in advertising,
“Our readers were just insatiable” for news and pictures of the princess ‘’they said
British newspapers and magazines could boost their potential sales by as much as 25 percent by putting a picture of the Princess of Wales on the cover.
Freelance photographer Richard Lappas was asked to go to Camelford to cover a trip to the town by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1993.
Lappas had been asked by the Daily Mail newspaper to support their photographer who was coming down from London. Richard would be there to develop the film and ‘’wire‘’ the pictures. This was the day after the leaked MI5 tapes that exposed the conflict in the marriage of Diana and The Prince of Wales and Diana was top of the news list.
Travel delays meant that the Mail staffer would not arrive in time so Lappas was asked to photograph the visit to the town. The visit was a Royal Rota, so passes were needed for access.
Unfortunately, the necessary passes were in the pocket of the Mail staffer still in transit.
Richard Lappas set himself up in local greengrocers where he offered the owner twenty pounds to access the water, power and telephone so that he could send the pictures. The owned was going out to watch the visit of Diana and offered Richard a key to the shop so that he could let himself in if she was delayed.
Some adaptions to the shop were required, Richard strung up a line across the shop to hang his film from while it was drying and some of the fruit and veg had to be moved so that he could access the BT point and a powerpoint. This achieved, off he went to see if he could photograph Diana
Richard was banking that Diana would ‘go walkabout’ even though one was not scheduled, and true to form the Peoples Princess did just that.
As Diana began her walkabout rain fell and she was now carrying an umbrella. As she walked along the High Street heading for the town hall. The brolly obscured her face and the chances that Richard would get a picture looked grim. As she was about to disappear into the offices of the council a biker caught her attention and she stopped to talk to him about the bike. Now was Richards moment.
He continues ‘I fired off 36 exposures on each of the two cameras I was holding. The relief was incredible the whole incident had happened so late and so quickly. I went back to the Fruit and Veg shop and I was quickly into the changing bag putting the films onto reels and trying to contain my delight as I had pulled something good off in very difficult circumstances.
I developed and rinsed the film and I hung the films on the line and began drying the films off with a hair dryer when the door opened. I looked up to see not the returning owner but a customer.
I brought new skills to the meaning or multi-tasking. As I dried the film and spoke to the office on the phone, I weighed the customers King Edward potatoes took the customers money and sorted out her change and thanked her for her custom.
She must have thought the world had gone mad at that point but it hadn’t and by the time I had dried the film I had served seven or eight more customers serving everything from grapes to spuds to bananas much to the delight of the shop owner when she returned from her trip to witness the visit of the Diana the Princess of Wales, The most photographed woman in the world. To cap it all my picture was the next morning page one of the Daily Mail.
This picture and others by Richard Lappas are available from Fleet Streets Finest
More By Luck Than Judgement by Richard Lappas
Available from Richard Lappas 07976 157997 or [email protected] £22 80 inc pandp.
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