Diana crash pic and strange self-censorship

[I’m getting a lot of hits on this page because of the recent report from John Stevens, out on 14 December 2006. It was a three-year investigation directly into the question over whether Diana’s death was a conspiracy. He concluded firmly that Diana’s death was no more than a “tragic accident”. You can download the short version of the report, or the longer version (800+ pages) from this site by following the links.]

The Internet’s not what it used to be. I heard this morning that some Italian magazine called [tag]Chi[/tag] had printed a picture of [tag]Princess Diana[/tag], dead, sat in the car that killed her in Paris way back in 1997. After dinner, I thought I’d find it, and, incredibly, it’s taken me an hour.

Of course, the British tabloids have leapt on the picture, bellowing with outrage. This is just shameless profiteering. Every editor knows that [tag]Diana[/tag] stories sell papers – Richard Desmond has turned over an entire newspaper, The Daily Express, to this peculiar business model, running endless and pointless front-page headlines over Diana.

But what is really ridiculous is that the picture is the tamest photo you could ever expect to see of a car crash. I find it amazing it hasn’t been published before. But then Diana’s death caused a national slippage of normal brain activity in the UK, and the flashbacks for the nation are still reoccurring.

What is strange is that I was discussing the peculiar tendency of the Western press to steer clear of graphic pictures only a few hours ago. Al-Jazeera showed some footage earlier today of a bombed-out building in Lebanon where a man in dreadful pain and shock held out a dead young girl in front of the camera that had just been pulled out of the rubble. He was demonstrating that this was not, as Israel claimed soon after, only an ammuniations dump, it was a family house. My friend who saw the footage told me that the girl was the same age as his daughter and he suddenly found himself crying.

But if you watch the images from the BBC, or Sky, or CNN, all you will see is a long-shot showing Beirut airport being bombed, or possibly a long-shot of a collasped building. Are they right to protect us from shocking images? Clearly they think so. But at the same time, isn’t that a bit of a cop-out, and a dangerous cop-out at that. We are not being told the reality, shown the reality. Death is shocking so why does our media pretend it isn’t?

Vietnam and beyond

Ever since Vietnam, the US has had major problems with showing death – to the extent that even coffins of returning soldiers from Iraq were carefully controlled. And I can’t remember the last time I saw a pic in the UK press that made me stop and think. I should ask some photographer friends what the history is behind the self-censorship of the realities of life.

But this standpoint is entirely hypocritical. See how we are able to deal with close-up pictures of Saddam Hussein’s sons – clearly dead and shot to pieces – all over the media, but not even the slightest hint of close-up violence otherwise. But those pictures were okay because they were *bad people*. It is incoherent.

And how come we can’t handle a few real pictures where we pay to go see incredibly graphic depictions of violence at the cinema? American films in particular are *incredibly* violent. There’s some crap cop show on the TV as I type this and two people have just come across a dead man by a bin, shot, dead, with blood all over his chest. I didn’t even blink. There is a very worrying double-standard at work here.


But what is even more worrying than that is a strange phenomenon of people self-censoring themselves on the Net. The Diana pic is not at all shocking and yet while several newspapers have run with the picture in their printed versions, no one has put it online. And people haven’t scanned the pic in and posted it up on the Net either. Not yet anyway.
There is a palpable fear out there in cyberspace about publishing this picture. Why? Has the very openness of the Net caused people to be overly censorious? Are people worried about hosting the pic, being linked to by everyone else (who don’t want to host it), and then being hounded by thousands of Netizens in a fake frenzy? Well, yes.

The Diana pic is apparently taken from a new book that covers the investigation into her death and includes some autopsy details. Fine. There is a book on her death and it includes some details.


But people’s response has to be call for newsagents to boycott this Chi magazine – which no one had ever heard of before – and ban the book, before anyone has ever even seen it. This is madness. Why has society become some hopelessly intolerant? Why is our first response to censor, to condemn and to ban? And where have the sensible majority gone?

Is it just because it’s Diana? Well, yes, partly. But at the same time, look at what we see of Iraq and Afghanistan – wars in which our citizens are being killed. Nothing. And what about Israel and Gaza and Lebanon? Isn’t a bit of old-fashioned horror at the reality of death exactly what we need, rather than white-clean, wipe-clean fantasies?

You’re not going to get any of that horror from the Diana pic though. Have a look at it. I am sticking it below. If you are shocked by this photo, it is because you are determined to be shocked. What if I told you it wasn’t Diana – are you still shocked? What exactly is there in the photo to be shocked about?

Censorship and mob outrage are the enemies of logic and the tools of propagandists and crooks.

Diana Chi magazine

  1. I don’t think the picture is “horrific” like I’ve been hearing. However, I don’t agree with the reason it was taken. It was taken by paparazzi trying to make a buck.

  2. I totally agree with Karen. The picture its self isn’t as bad as I was expecting however its still really disrespectful to try and make some money off a tragic event such as this. It should be a crime.

  3. I’m not really bothered about the Diana issue…I just think Kieren has a very salient point to make about the double standards within the politicised media, and between that media and the ‘entertainment’ media. We NEVER see the reality of war, we never see the true images and devastation which ‘liberating’ Iraq has created..but those sorts of images should be seen, if we are too be responsible for war, we should face up to the fact that children are killed in said war. Whereas images of glorified violence and death are used constantly and gratuitously in the entertainment industry..but because they use actors, means we can view those images for entertainment reasons..becoming desensitised and numbed to the implications of violence. Perhaps if we did see a few more depictions of real violence and less of glorified violence the world might be a more responsible and sensitive place?? But , then, perhaps the images of real violence would become entertainment rather than education and that would be very sick indeed, leading to less awareness, I’m not sure. But thanks for posting a sensible article, this topic is clearly one where some kind of debate is needed.

  4. Whether or not the photo is “gruesome” or shows detail is not relevant. The fact is that the person who took the photo and all the other parasites out there who do that line of work were and are the direct cause of her death, her companion’s death as well as their driver’s death. Not to mention the pain and suffering they have caused to their families. The picture (s) – regardless should never have been allowed to have been printed.

  5. And as far as people the world despises such as Sadam’s sons or for that matter the so called hanging video of Sadam himself. All in poor taste. But what is worse is that all of this shows a clear desensitization on a global, scale. As a world community we are no longer bothered by scenes of brutality or what was once called violent material; now it is all mainstream. Go to any grade school in the world and pop in a video displaying scenes of characters dying (heroes or innocents) and the response is horrifying – children actually laugh. The appropriate response would be to be sad. I have experienced this first hand on more than one occasion in more than one country. This is more than just about photo’s..

  6. i think it is wrong what about william and harry.

  7. I’ve only just discovered this after looking for an article about the up and coming Channel 4 documentary. This picture is indeed tame, but having lost someone and seeing that person dead I can appreciate both sides.

    Death is taboo in the UK and their is little or no support for those that have lost someone. Trying to pick up the pieces and live on, but never being allowed to talk about it, only bottles up the grief and causes long term problems. I know I’ve been there. Sometimes, it helps to have closure too, so I can see the damage this picture could have on the family regardless of who she is. It keeps the feeling of loss and grief alive like an open wound. It doesn’t allow the family to heal or have closure, which they need in order to feel okay about being alive and being at all happy in their lives.

    I agree with much of what you said and also agree on the double standards. Were a country that’s gone PC mad, but then doesn’t question parents who leave their two and three year old unattended whilst they wine and dine, and one of them gets abducted. Yes the doubles standards are shocking, bearing no logic or reason.

  8. I can see both sides of this argument.
    Other scenes of dead and dying people are published without comment, and are often much more shocking.
    Some of this is censored from the main news, which keeps us from appreciationg the true horror of war.
    I have felt that if pictures I have seen on the internet were shown on t.v. the war in Iraq would not last 5 more minutes.
    On the other hand, we could become even more desensitised if that was the case…
    As for Diana, I initially thought ‘what’s the harm?’.
    Then I remembered, whilst reading these posts, that the whole reason why this was so sick and shocking was that the crash was CAUSED by endless hounding by photographers. Yes, she had courted it, but that just makes it even more chilling.
    The ‘fairytale princess’ was clearly in one of the darker Brother’s Grimm tales after all- the ones that don’t have happy endings.

    Just as an aside- I would like to comment that as a parent I can only conjecture that children’s reactions to death scenes would be highly dependant on context and presentation. To say that children inevitably laugh at that is so much hooey. I’m not calling you a liar- just questioning the circumstances on which you base your conclusion.

  9. Hi Kieran – it might seem a tad ghoulish (of me) googling to find this last image of Diana. It was not intended. Channel 4 is planning to use it in its programme tomorrow night, and I wanted to see for myself whether it should be included. [And protest on their site]

    In the event, she seems a lot more peaceful (and not obviously physically damaged) than could be gathered from media reports of the time… and the photo could be seen as proof that the medics were trying to help.

    If it helps to give the paparazzi a conscience, then maybe it will have served a purpose. (I don’t quite subscribe to any conspiracy theories, but there are far too many not properly answered questions)


  10. look i live in england and not everyone in england agree,s about the royals i would say most people i no wish they would all die, they are just a drain on the ordinary people, they are the biggest land owners in the uk and own nearly one third of the british isle and gelously gaurd it from the rest of us their poor subjects…if only this country was free, you dont no how lucky you are in the states seriously because if you lived over here you would realise that only multi millionaires own any land in england most people live in tiny houses on sixth the size of a small house in the states. so enjoy your freedom to roam cause we are still fighting a seamingly endless battle just to walk in our own country side. thanks for reading and peace from nottingham (robin hood city)england.


  12. There is a reason why the therm for annoying noisy photographer is the Italian “Paparazzo” or in plural “Paparazzi”. I am not surprised the Italians published this, then was followed by Channel 4. They have set a low bar lower.

  13. I don’t think a pic taken in casket is grotesque. Have you ever seen post mortem pictures? They were awesome and popular in victorian age. It was a duty to have a post mortem pic of a dear one, also as postcards or visit cards.

  14. I can see this link started a while back but I have only just come across it. I wanted to post some comments on another site, that of Channel 4. The station aired a documentary The Witnesses In The Tunnel and it caused a frenzy of replies by the public. The people’s voice should be heard but it is ironic that the media is quickly criticized for sensationalizing when individuals tend to over react themselves at certain things and pass quick judgment. It is true there are those who capitalize on pain and misfortune. There are paparazzi with apparently an absent moral ground. But without the images brought by journalists the public would be uninformed. Sometimes a tough decision has to be made on whether to publish an image or not. We run the risk of becoming desensitized to violence, the risk of even practicing voyeurism.

    But think for a moment about the world we live in: things have changed. We live in the age of the reality show. Everything from Big Brother to Temptation Island seems to pry into the lives of individuals. I’m not advocating a lack of dignity and respect. What I’m advocating though is the need to bring real images to the world as important events unfold. If some journo didn’t risk his life in a war torn Iraq we would never have seen the horrors that such events bring with them. We would not have been moved by Mohamed the boy who lost his entire family and all his limbs through a bomb raid. Then we would not have been in a position to oppose the crimes that go on around us every day. Events can be described in words but pictures speak louder. An image can move you emotionally like nothing else.

    In any case, I don’t see what the big deal was with the abovementioned Diana doco. The photo in regard published by Chi isn’t all that freakish. Why over react? I believe that we should be sensitive to the Diana’s boys and to her loved ones but I don’t understand how the specific image disrespects the Princess. I think that William and Harry would want to see the final moments of their mum, if the photos capturing them aren’t graphic. Maybe it is saddening, I don’t know if it would be damaging or cathartic to the sons of Diana as I am no psychologist.

    However let’s not be hypocrites. We want to know what goes on in the world. We tune in to watch telecasts because we can’t be directly there when events unfold. The main issue is to retain morality and humanity throughout it all. As someone else commented, we have seen hundreds of pictures of people suffering, are they less human than a princess was? If we had not seen the severity of the torture the Iraqi prisoners of war were subjected to by forces on assignment, we would have not united as a race to retaliate.

    I understand that Diana’s accident is somewhat different to a war crime, but for Heaven’s sake people, if you really oppose invasion of privacy then turn off your TV sets when BB is on and let the networks know how you truly feel about this new age of infotainment. Don’t have double standards!

  15. I was looking for Diana’s pics (well I find her very attractive to say the least) but then I ended up finding all these disturbing pictures. Well, its shocking and saddening at the same time. I don’t know how anyone could just stand there and take such pictures (http://www.eastcoastbob.com/dianadying.htm) and then a site which advertises this in the most heartless way “Dying Princess Diana photos here!!”. Even this blog is hypocritical, what was the need to post the pic and give the title “Diana crash pic” if you’re so moved and concerned about this? But didn’t we all land on this page because we wanted to get a glimpse of her in such a state?
    Anyway, I feel everyone who feels this is the height of disrespecting a dead body should read “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers”. It’s funny seeing people going crazy and acting totally paranoid over a ten year old picture of a complete stranger in an badly injured state, haven’t we seen this on TV like a million times? Why is it okay when people take pictures and videos of the dead and dying African kids and then sell it for thousands to Oprah and then its shown on primetime television?

  16. In the last years, those who murdered Diana revealed also how they did it. After 10 years, in June 2007, the illuminati media broadcasted for the first time “Diana: The Witnesses In The Tunnel”, where the illuminati went as far as telling the public:
    – the plan to use the “evil paparazzi” as the perfect scapegoat for the public, in the first days after the murder (2);
    – the satanic ritual murder of slightly injured Princess of Wales, AFTER the crash, during the more than one hour she was kept in the ambulance, parked in the street, just meters away from a hospital. (3)

  17. What I love about this comment is that it is *so* bonkers.

    Keep the truth alive, Truth666.


  18. Princess Diana was such a beautiful and wonderful all around. She was a true princess…one that can never be repeated in history again. There is something magical about Princess Diana in that her presence whether in reality, tv, magazines, etc. touches people who have and have never met her in real life.

    Regarding the disputed death pic of the princess, although some people felt that it was wrong and hurtful to the close families and friends of Princess Diana to have the awful pics or the tv show the accident scene…in part, the it may have helped millions of people accept the truth that she did passed away. After all, she was a public person who both private and public people all over the world loved dearly. Her name, good works, and memories will never fade. God bless Princess Diana’s soul…

  19. I couldn’t read all the comments, but I did read your article and I believe your point is valid. Since it is still being commented on, you should edit it to include the fact that the Zapruder film with images of JFK actually being killed were commonplace until copywrite were enforced. That was actually murder –a snuff film!!!– we were witnessing, but it didn’t receive the kind of fervor that pictures taken after (or during) the death of Princess Di. It’s not even video. Furthermore, film footage and stills of RFK laying in someone’s arms actually dying are also ubiquitous, but people aren’t up in arms about that. I would say to everyone: If the images of RFK and JFK don’t bother you, but the ones of Princess Di do, you should ask yourself why.

  20. I think part of the problem people have with the Diana pictures is possibly a lurking sense of guilt. People are ready to believe that the paparazzi are responsible for the car crash and to view the pictures that resulted would make them complicit. Just a thought

  21. Good point.

  22. What’s the fuss?? This woman was just some divorced woman who hung out with other rich people. You Brit’s and your thing for these inbread “royals” is so weird.

  23. Maria, I agree with a lot of what you typed, however: The reason this image is disrespectful is that, besides denying the wishes of the children — who requested such images to NOT be published, it is the way it is presented.

    It isn’t done in a way that is unbiased and with objectivity; it is not done in a way where it is inside the pages of a book showing pictures detailing the accident and trying to piece the whole story together.

    The picture is of a dying Diana, who although outwardlly seemed unharmed, but in fact horribly so inside, is used as a way to make more sells. The image is glorified as “L’ultima foto” on a magazine cover for easy access.

    Had it been presented differently, with a respectful picture of Diana, with perhaps a picture of the wrecked car as an inset, and presented as more insights into her death … although there may still be some outcry the picture was still published, it would probably have met with much less criticism … and perhaps less sales or publicity in the minds of the publishers.

    The magazine only had one intent: to make money off the death of a beloved icon in as sensational manner as possible.

    So to anyone who reads this, whether one believes she was murdered or not, or acknowledges there are indeed unanswered questions surrounding it, the picture in question isn’t so much objectionable as the method used to publish it. Autopsy photos of JFK, Marilyn Monroe, and other icons in our history are out there, but in my knowledge those images aren’t used as cover spots.

    Similar is the notorious coffin picture of Elvis on the cover of another tabloid magazine, which may or may not be less ghoulish, for lack of a better word, the real problem is not only that the media publications have no qualms about using someone’s death as a means to make money … and the fact that there are people who will buy such material readily.

    It can be established then, that this magazine sought to profit and exploit a human being’s death, so let us move on to a bigger task of not allowing those who would do such a thing to profit. Don’t buy the tabloids that hunt down stars and give them no peace; don’t fuel the need to find out if such and such a star or figure used one or two ply toilet paper today, but find a way to use “uncomfortable” images as a way to desensitize one’s view of a war, or to show more truth to a subject, war or otherwise –even if it is difficult in our Photoshopped world to do so.

  24. I actually saw this pic years ago. On a website called Ogrish.com

  25. I can see through that man’s leg.

  26. Anyone stupid enough to take Al Jazeera’s word for anything – especially when it’s been proven that they (the PLO et al) have moved dead children from one spot to another in order to get just the reaction you gave – has no business being outraged by anyone else.

  27. I’m sorry but i don’t get the Diana was so amazing thing. She married into royalty to become famous, and complained about Charles, she didnt have to marry him. She had several affairs… and lets be honest, one was with that ginger bloke, then she has a ginger kid coincidentally 9 months after the affair that looks a lot like him. She didn’t think about her children once while she was having the affiars (plural) didn’t think about her husband or the rest of the family, yet got away with everything because she is so beautiful blah blah…. do you think if it had been Charles who did all that he would get away with it. People say she did a lot of charity work, she married into a rich family and didn’t have a job, so she should, the day i become rich and no longer need to work for a living, i will dedicate my life to third world countries and volunteering to help anyone in more need than myself, i haven’t got a medal! Don’t get me wrong, i far from hate her, all these things happen, but i dont understand why people think she should be a saint!

  28. I wish this accident had not happened. Everybody has the right to keep his/her life’s privacy but Diana wasn’t let to do this. Her smile died very early. All people of British are guilty for inspecting the details of her life. I see this so from Turkey.

  29. Anyone got any more piccies?

  30. i want give a comment but i can’t see the picture clearly.?!

  31. Kamagra…

    Where are your related posts?…

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