Princess Diana’s canny strategy for dealing with intrusive members of the paparazzi has gone viral after it was recently posted to TikTok.
A video clip of Diana walking backward to avoid showing her face to photographers while she was at the gym in the 1990s has gained more than a million views and received in excess of 100,000 likes in under twenty-four hours.
The clip was recorded during a time when the princess’ media attention was increasing surrounding her official separation from Prince Charles in 1992, and a time when she reassessed the level of police protection she received and what her working routine would be.
The TikTok video has gone viral after the 25th anniversary of the death of Diana was marked on August 31. The princess died as a result of injuries sustained in a high speed Paris car crash while traveling through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel with boyfriend Dodi Fayed. Fayed, along with the car’s driver, was pronounced dead at the scene. Diana was taken to hospital where attempts to save her life were unsuccessful.
The clip used in the viral video shows the princess arriving at the Chelsea Harbour Club gym a short distance from her Kensington Palace home and where she would work out numerous times a week.
Members of the paparazzi would wait each day to photograph Diana and those photos would command huge sums of money. To combat the press, Diana came up with a number of ways of thwarting their efforts to profit off of intrusive images of her. One of these was to repeatedly wear the same outfit, including a Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt, on successive days so that news agencies wouldn’t pay for new photos.
Another of these methods, as shown in the video, sees Diana walking backwards from her car parked outside the gym in order that the waiting photographers couldn’t see her face, thus reducing the price paid for their photos.
Commenters on TikTok have praised Diana for her attempts to outsmart the paparazzi, commenting that she “knew what she was doing.”
“Literally obsessed with this woman. She knew what she was doing and I love it,” wrote one user.
“She also wore the same gym outfits so they couldn’t seek the photos as no one would believe they were new… amazing lady and very clever,” posted another.
Many other social media users expressed anger towards the photographers for their pursuit of the princess considering that a 2008 inquest found that dangerous pursuit from the paparazzi contributed to the circumstances of the royal’s untimely death.
“Each one of those paparazzi’s that followed her the night she died should [have] done jail time. No one deserves to be harassed like that,” wrote one TikTok user.
“They literally stalked that poor woman,” said another.
Diana was a regular gym goer, working with personal trainers which added to her passion for fitness. Throughout her marriage the princess was able to use Queen Elizabeth II’s private swimming pool at Buckingham Palace, built by her father King George VI in the 1930s in what was a greenhouse. Diana did this regularly until around the time of her divorce.
In 1993, the princess was the victim of hidden camera photography while she worked out at an L.A. Fitness gym in West London. The owner of the club, Bryce Taylor, installed a hidden camera which took pictures of the princess using exercise machines and which were later published by British tabloid the Daily Mirror.
After a lengthy legal battle, the princess received an official apology from Taylor and the Mirror Group as well as the negatives of the photographs and all money made from their sale, which she then donated to charity.
This was one of the most high-profile of invasions into her privacy that Diana experienced from photographers but it was not the last.
Today, 25 years after her death a number of videos depicting the princess have gone viral on social media including TikTok. In 2021 Statista data showed that 47.4 percent of TikTok’s 48 million users were under the age of 30, with 25 percent aged between 10 and 19. This shows that Diana’s legacy is being engaged with by a large number of users who were born after her death.