TOMORROW, Princess Diana would have been 60 years old and I’m sure she’d have thrown the biggest party ever for her family and friends.
Instead, only a handful of her closest relatives, a sculptor, landscape gardener and one photographer will watch the unveiling of a statue to this remarkable woman.
I know we are in the last days of the pandemic, but on Tuesday night more than 40,000 were at Wembley Stadium to watch England beat Germany.
And yet they are restricting the numbers allowed at Kensington Palace for this afternoon’s outdoor ceremony in memory of Diana because of Covid. To me, that doesn’t quite ring true.
If they had wanted more people there for the unveiling they could have done it somehow.
It is sad the Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the Royal Family who were close to Diana can’t be there.
I believe the on-going friction between William and Harry is the real reason so few people have been invited. In many ways I find that unacceptable.
The unveiling ceremony will be held in the sunken garden where Harry and Meghan announced their engagement.
It is a large area and I am sure they could still have a socially-distanced event but allow many more people to be there — including me.
I would have loved to have been there to photograph her one more time. For 17 years, Diana was part of my life.
Here are just some of my favourite pictures I took of her.
I took the first-ever press photo of Diana back in 1980, early in her romance with Charles.
And I was there on that fateful day in August 1997 when I cried after photographing her coffin, covered in the Royal Standard, being carried out of the back door of the Paris hospital where she died.
I covered Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles, that incredible wedding, the birth of both of her boys and travelled the world with her.
It was a wonderful journey that was tragically cut short.
But I was blessed to have known her and would have loved to have been there tomorrow to see her statue being revealed to the world.
I’m getting older now and my short-term memory is not so good. But I will never forget those great days with Diana.
By god, she was one of the most amazing women I have ever known. She totally changed the way the royals operated.
Speak to anyone who met Diana and they will always remember the way she looked at them, that smile, that beautiful face and that lovely giggle.
She was not short of quips and was always quick to answer you back.
I remember waiting to photograph her in a new dress at the La Scala opera house in Milan but she turned up in an old frock.
At a press reception a couple of days later I asked her: “Why did you turn up in that old dress?” Quick as a flash, she said: “What did you want? Me to turn up naked?”
I replied: “Well, I’d have got that in the paper.” She just burst out laughing.
She would say: “Do you like my barnet, Arthur?” Or, she’d look down at her shoes and ask: “What do you think of my tart’s trotters?”
Catherine is really lovely, always so beautifully dressed. But she is very reserved. She will never come and crack a joke with us like Diana did.
If I close my eyes I can still hear the laughter on the day Diana took part in the mothers’ race at Harry’s school sports day.
She ran straight towards the camera, laughing, and all the mothers competing against her were in hysterics. They were so happy.
I remember small things like when we went whale watching in Patagonia and her touching the head of a Right whale. You could never afford to miss an engagement with her because she would always surprise you.
Once, in Melbourne, she walked in wearing an emerald necklace as a headband. Bosh! That was the picture.
Diana and Charles were on holiday in Majorca and were there because the Prince had broken his arm in a polo accident.
Charles was sitting on the yacht with his arm in a sling when suddenly Diana got up. She was wearing a red bikini. She picked up an apple and started to eat it.
It was an amazing picture and everybody forgot about poor Prince Charles’s arm.
But Princess Di was not just a beautiful woman in a red bathing suit. Compassion poured out of her.
There have been hints that this won’t be an ordinary statue of Diana, standing on her own.
I hope it will capture the princess’s love for children and the elderly, for the sick and people damaged by life.
Diana was unique in her approach to sick people, looking at them with her big eyes, rubbing their brow or holding the wrinkled hands of old people.
She wouldn’t interrupt people as they told their stories, she would nod and agree sympathetically. Diana gave more time to the needy than anyone else.
Within minutes of arriving, she would have the sick and weary laughing and happy.
She may have had the looks of Cindy Crawford and the compassion of Mother Teresa but Diana was also exceptionally brave. In January 1997, she went to Angola, where a bloody civil war had just ended.
There was no law and order on the streets — even policemen were asking you for bribes — and yet she went there to campaign against landmines.
Politicians criticised her for going but Diana didn’t care, she just carried on doing what she knew was right.
Wearing slacks and a white shirt with a red cross, she visited a little girl lying in hospital who been blown up by a land mine.
This poor youngster was exposed below the waist and before I took the picture, Diana said: “Just hold on a minute.” She lovingly covered her up and made her look decent.
Close to tears, Diana held the little girl’s bandaged arm and listened intently as the doctor explained what had happened to the child.
My last photograph of Diana was one of the best of the thousands I took of her over the years.
It was a portrait taken on another landmines trip, this time to Bosnia shortly before her death.
My dearest hope is that when William and Harry stand together later tomorrow memories of their phenomenal mother will come flooding back.
They were the most-loved children ever. She indulged them and it is a tragedy that they only had her for such a short time.
Hopefully they will remember days like the one when she took them to Niagara Falls on the Maid Of The Mist boat trip, getting wet together and laughing.
Or when they wanted some conkers and Diana climbed a horse chestnut tree in the grounds of Kensington Palace to get them herself.
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Or the day she took military-mad Harry to Germany to visit one of her regiments.
The young Prince dressed up in a uniform and he went out on patrol in an armoured personnel carrier.
My greatest hope is that if anything can come from the unveiling of the statue to this amazing woman, it is that Harry and William can somehow resolve their differences.