If there’s one thing we know, the royal family are masters at working the press. They might pretend that there’s a distance between them, but we know that the royal rota has sources that are often people from the inside palace. Once Princess Diana married Prince Charles, and their marriage became challenging in public and behind closed doors, she found a way to use the media to her advantage — and we are learning all about how she slyly shared insider info.
Royal photographer Kent Gavin, who will be a part of BritBox‘s new documentary, Wedding of the Century, on July 29, spoke to SheKnows’ Entertainment Editor Louisa Ballhaus about how the Princess of Wales shared behind-the palace-wall stories in very subtle ways. Gavin, who had a friendly relationship with Diana and was personally chosen to photograph Prince William’s christening, sat near her during a performance of Phantom of the Opera in January 1987.
That’s when she casually slipped him a bit of very useful information. “‘Ken, do you know? My husband will not be at Prince William’s first day at school tomorrow,'” Gavin recalled her saying. “‘No, he’s snowed-in in Sandringham.’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s very sad.’” While that may seem like a useless piece of information, it turned out to be very crucial. “She told me that story because she wanted that story to run that night,” he explained. “So during the interval of the show, I went upstairs to the box up at the top of the Haymarket Theatre, phoned the office [The Daily Mirror], filed the story, we ran it [the] next day. Charles misses Prince William’s first day at school.”
Talk about being PR savvy! Gavin knew exactly what to do with the story and that began a reciprocal relationship where Diana would feed stories to the photographer and he would run them in his publication. It’s also led to the famous photos of a nurturing Diana taking her four-year-old son (without Charles in sight) to that precious first day at the Wetherby School in London. It was a narrative she wanted to control and by leaking the story, she got exactly what she wanted.
What makes this story so remarkable is that the royal family still uses the press to its advantage. Sometimes in plain sight, like the Oprah Winfrey interview — and sometimes in more subtle ways that we can’t see. But Diana was always there for her boys, and that is what she always wanted to remind the public of — how much she loved being a mom.
Before you go, click here to see the best photos of Princess Diana playing with William and Harry.