Arthur, who has worked as a Sun photographer since 1974, became the Princess's trusted pal as he followed her around the world, capturing the joys and heartache of her royal life. Arthur has been taking pictures of Diana since 1980. He remembers: "When I first snapped the shy teenager at a polo match in 1980, I could hardly believe she was Prince Charles' new girlfriend. I saw Diana change from a cheeky, innocent girl into a supremely beautiful woman who was a wonderful ambassador for Britain."

 

Arthur first set eyes on Lady Diana Spencer on 29 July 1980, exactly one year to the day before she walked down the aisle with Prince Charles. "I arrived at Cowdray Park polo field in Sussex; following up a tip that Prince Charles was there with a girl called Diana. I thought that he can't be running around with a teenager! It was only two weeks later, when I saw them together at Balmoral, that I realised the romance was on," he said. 

 

It didn't take long before everyone realised that Diana was more than just a passing fancy for the Prince of Wales, and soon everyone wanted a photograph of her. During this period, she was very friendly and didn't let the constant attention phase her at all. "Even when she changed her old-fashioned Renault for a brand new red Mini Metro, it didn't stop the attention. Diana looked terribly embarrassed one day when she could not get the keys to fit in the lock," Arthur remembers. 

 

After trolling around several nurseries in the west end of London, Arthur finally knocked on the door of the Young England Kindergarten in Pimlico, and asked if Lady Diana Spencer worked there. Arthur was delighted when Diana agreed to pose for a picture, but insisted on being photographed with some of the children from the nursery. "Halfway through the picture session, the sun came out and I saw for the first time what beautiful legs she had. Later that afternoon, I went back to the nursery and told Diana about the photograph. She blushed, and replied I'd hate to be known as the girl who didn't wear a petticoat," Arthur remembers. 

 

The royal romance was well underway, and on 24 February 1981, Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. The wedding was set for 29 July that year, and Diana had just turned 20. The wedding was one of the most joyous moments in British history. Excitement filled the streets along with laughter and singing - it was sheer magic. Arthur was not prepared for that first sight of Diana in her incredible gown: "It literally took my breath away. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful sight. For a second, I was unable to even press the button on my camera. She looked gorgeous - a lady very much in love."

 

Princess Diana began her royal duties with Prince Charles within weeks of returning from their honeymoon. Not surprisingly, Diana was an instant smash. The people of Britain were the first to take her to their hearts. Di-mania was well and truly underway. Diana became a star, who was quickly to outshine her husband - and he was not used to it. In 1983, Charles and Diana set off to tour Australia. It was dubbed 'Love Tour'. "I took hundreds of photographs that captured all their emotions at once. One afternoon, in stifling 100 degree heat, I followed the couple to a jamboree in Maitland, New South Wales. Then came this extraordinary moment - Charles placed a protective hand on Diana's wrist. She leaned towards him with a smile of pure gratitude and joy. There was obviously a strong bond between them," Arthur recalls.

 

Diana became a global ambassador for Britain with the many tours she made throughout the world. There's hardly one corner of the world Diana did not visit during her tragically short life. Arthur followed her every step and captured hundreds of stunning photographs of the Princess who would refer to him as 'Our Arthur'. He said: "Our nickname for Diana was Blue Eyes, and no other person I know and photographed has that same sparkling look. She was always a beautiful woman, but her eyes were one of her most outstanding features. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes weepy; but always the part of her picture I looked at first. She could always melt the coldest heart with one look." 

 

Not only was she a global ambassador, but Princess Diana was known for her genuine concern and compassion for others. Royal photographer Arthur Edwards experienced it first hand during a trip to Cairo in May 1992. He had caught dysentery and for three days was too ill to leave his bed. As soon as Diana heard that Arthur was ailing, she sent her personal physician - who travelled with her - to his bedside, and the next day one of her police bodyguards brought mineral salts to help rehydrate his body. Arthur managed to return to work to photograph the Princess at the Cairo Museum. Diana came over to ask how he was. Arthur told her: "I'm fine Ma'am, I just haven't eaten anything for three days." Diana laughed: "Yes I can see that. It has done wonders for your waistline!"

 

The last overseas visit Princess Diana made was to war-ravaged Bosnia to continue her campaign to ban landmines from the world. "In one of the last conversations I had with her she said: I am not interested in politicians' criticism of me, I just want to help these people. I am a humanitarian," Arthur remembers. It was also in war-torn Bosnia where Arthur Edwards took the last portrait of Princess Diana. "It was six o'clock in the evening, and she was visiting landmine victims. Dressed casually in an oversized shirt, she could have been going to tea at Buckingham Palace. She looked so beautiful that evening. It was the same natural beauty I first saw when she was a plump, unsure teenager. But she grew into this beautiful, sophisticated woman - and I've never seen beauty quite like it. I don't think I ever will again."

 

For 17 wonderful years, Princess Diana had been a huge part of Arthur's life. "Diana gave me the best pictures anybody could ever take. She took me to places I would ever go. She treated me - the cockney son of a lorry driver - as an equal, despite her aristocratic background. She called me by my first name, she even teased me about my weight and my bald patch - and she always made me laugh," he said. "But more than anything, I saw in her kindness and compassion for other people. Through her actions, she showed me how to behave. The Princess who shone is no longer here to sparkle - to light up our lives. I loved her. She'll always be our Princess," he concluded.

 

Source:

  • Diana: The People's Princes: A Personal Tribute In Words And Pictures. By Arthur Edwards. Publication Year: 1997

The Golden 'D' Necklace Diana Wore Struck Arthur Instantly

Arthur Edwards Speaks To Princess Diana During Her Visit To Cairo Museum In 1992