As one of the most photographed women in the world, it is rare today to still be finding unseen pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales. Yet this is the promise given by a new exhibition at Kensington Palace later this month, as a never-before-seen sitting of the late royal with David Bailey has been included in the show.
Shot in 1988, the black and white portrait shows the People’s Princess in profile, wearing a one-shoulder dress and simple drop earrings. It was commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery, but didn’t make the final cut. There is still a hint of ‘shy Di’ in the expression on the princess’s face, a nickname she was particularly known for in the 1980s press. By the 1990s, and certainly after her separation from Prince Charles, she had a newfound confidence, epitomized by her agenda-setting fashion choices and slicked back hairstyle.
The photograph is on display as part of the Life Through a Royal Lens exhibition, opening on March 4. Focusing on royal portraiture through the ages – as well as images taken by the public on official walkabouts and tours – it starts with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s adoption of the art form, moving through to the family members who later took up amateur photography (most notably Princess Alexandra, Victoria’s daughter-in-law, and the Duchess of Cambridge). Key themes are how photography allows the Royal Family to appear ‘just like us’ with a focus on family life.
Other key images in the exhibition include annotated photo albums from the Royal Family’s personal archive from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including illustrated images taken by Queen Alexandra. There is also a fabulous portrait of Princess Margaret by her ex-husband, Lord Snowdon, as well as photographs taken by a young Duke of Windsor when he was a teen.
Originally published in Tatler.com