Princess Diana’s privacy

Public letters are most illuminating, and two recently released in Britain concern the use of images of Princess Diana’s accident in a Channel 4 documentary. Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the private secretary of Princes William and Harry, wrote a letter to Channel 4 asking them to “appreciate fully that publishing such material causes great hurt to us, our father, our mother’s family and all those who so loved and respected her.”

Kevin Lygo, Channel 4’s director of television and content, replied saying that “in the context of a measured and responsible history programme, these photographs provide, for the first time, an accurate and detailed eyewitness record of an event of international importance that for ten years has been obscured by conspiracy theories, claims and counter-claims.”

My position: While the media may have the right to publish photographs of events that take place in the public space, publishing pictures of someone’s mutilated body would be tasteless and insensitive. However, Lygo clarified in his letter that Princess Diana wasn’t visible in any of the pictures that Channel 4 was showing, and I think it is silly, then, to object muchly. This is especially in the light of the conspiracy theories surrounding the accident—most famously by Mohamed al-Fayed—and if the documentary serves to inquire into the truth, then it is worthy journalism.

Meanwhile, here’s an excellent recreation by the Guardian of the hours leading up to the accident, and here’s an interview of Trevor Rees-Jones, the only survivor of the crash.