Andrew Morton, author of the 1992 bestseller Diana: Her True Story, revealed that he paid off Terence Donovan, a prominent British photographer and film director, to keep secret the Princess of Wales’ cooperation with his biography. In an interview with The Radio Times, the author said that Donovan blackmailed him unless Morton paid him £70,000 for an iconic picture of Diana wearing a tiara.
The Princess had given the writer a series of photos which she had thought had been taken by her official photographer Patrick Demarchelier. Donovan was well known for taking photographs of prominent celebrities and high-society individuals. When the first extract of the book was serialised in The Sunday Times, Donovan’s photo appeared on the front page of the paper and was misattributed to Demarchelier. The photographer threatened to divulge that Diana directly cooperated with the book if the price demands for his picture weren’t met.
“[Donovan] told us that if the price wasn’t met, he would tell the world that Diana was involved in the book as she was the only person to have been given a copy of the shot,” Morton told The Radio Times. The writer stated that the photographer wanted £70,000 for the photo, rather than the £500 that was the going rate for an image. Eventually, a price was negotiated to satisfy both parties’ demands. Donovan took his own life shortly after the book’s publication in 1996.
The book became noteworthy as it was the first authorised biography of the Princess who fully cooperated with Morton during its writing. The book revealed Diana’s bulimia and her unhappiness during her marriage to Prince Charles. Though she did not talk to Morton directly, the Princess did tape answers to questions that he sent to her. After the book was published, Morton said that he only talked to friends of Diana, but later disclosed that the Princess was a primary source for much of the book’s information.
The interview comes ahead of the premiere of the final season of Netflix’s The Crown, with the first part streaming November 16, and the second part arriving on December 14. Elizabeth Debicki, who portrays Diana in the show, was featured as the cover star of this month’s Radio Times. Morton was portrayed by Andrew Steele in Season 5 of The Crown.