Fleet Street’s Finest, Mike Conway, recounts the tragic and extraordinary day of Diana’s death 20 years ago.
Browsing through the morning papers 31 August, on the 20th anniversary of the death of photographers’ favourite Princess Diana, I came across a fairly predictable article headed ‘Do you remember where you were on the day?’
Well I most certainly do along with the events that followed in the days leading up to the incredible day of the funeral.
On the Saturday of that ill-fated weekend I was in northern Germany helping to open what was to be the first of many photo exhibitions of the late EPA and AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was murdered on assignment in Afghanistan just over 3 years ago.
My wife and I were staying overnight in a quiet countryside hotel enjoying a long lazy breakfast to kickstart my three weeks holiday before heading south towards Frankfurt. My car at the time had a radio with a news-ticker that gave headlines, however if you wanted to hear taped music that facility was not available.
It was a beautiful sunny day and as we neared our destination my wife suggested we pick up the U.K. Sunday papers at the main railway station.
While browsing the headlines a man, assuming I was British, said he heard rumours that Diana was dead. I made a typical cynical Conway retort along the lines of ‘Probably caused by too many holidays’ but as I left the shop the hairs on the back of my hair rose (and still do when I relate this tale). I rushed to my parked car, turned the ignition and threw Bob Dylan into the back seat. As I did so there was the headline in front of me: Dodi and Di killed in car accident. I drove immediately around the rail terminal to the south side where our offices were located at the time. I was greeted by a frantic colleague saying that an even more frantic Johnny Eggitt (now with AFP London) had been trying to reach me all morning.
The result of my call to Johnny was that three hours later I was in London to begin one of the most stressful weeks in my career.
Oh yes, I remember….