"From the start, we got along very well, working with what I think of as a mutual respect, and we became friendly since I was the only woman among the crowd of cameramen who regularly covered the world's most famous family. I often felt that when she gazed into my camera lens, her look was different from the ones she directed at my male colleagues. Her expression was more relaxed and vulnerable with me," recalled Jayne.
The photographer's first encounter with Diana was on November 1980, when she saw her arriving to the Ritz Hotel to join the Royal Family's celebration of Princess Margaret's 50th birthday. When her colleague told her that this was Prince Charles's new girlfriend, Jayne decided to wait and have a closer look at the girl who was suddenly hitting the headlines. "When she finally emerged from the hotel in the early hours of the morning, I snatched a few quick shots, she blushed and pulled her coat up around her face," Jayne said.
During the years, following her marriage to the Prince of Wales, Jayne captured many photographs of the young Princess of Wales on public duties and state visits, such as the successful first tour of the royal couple to Australia in March 1983. Jayne remembers: "Despite of their grueling schedule, Princess Diana gained confidence as Prince Charles guided her through their ceremonial duties. I saw him whispering instructions and held her hand to give her reassurance when she needed it."
Jayne Fincher has a huge collection of photographs and was lucky enough to have had several private photo sessions with the Princess and her family. One was at the Prince and Princess of Wales's country home; Highgrove, in August 1988. The royal photographer had been asked to take official photographs for Prince Charles's 40th birthday. Princess Diana was late arriving at Highgrove, and when she finally reached the destination, she emerged wearing a black satin Michael Jackson "Thriller" jacket. She hurried upstairs to change into something more appropriate for the official photo call. Ten minutes later, she came down wearing a demure pink dress and gently chided her husband for wearing a rather worn sweater. "You can't be photographed in that old thing!", Prince Charles laughed and replied back "I don't care. I like it."
Of that day, Jayne remembers: "Princess Diana crawled around the floor helping me plug my lights into power sockets around the sitting room. Meanwhile, William and Harry began helping me take my camera equipment out of its case and their mother kept ordering them and said don't touch Jayne's gear. The little boys took notice, of course." Jayne was asked to photograph the royal couple once again in March 1990. This time, the photo session took place at Kensington Palace. Princess Diana suggested that Jayne come to the palace when Prince Charles and herself were dressed up for a state banquet.
"Diana appeared wearing a magnificently embroidered lilac gown and a tiara. When I admired her dress, she groaned. It's so tight I can barely breathe. I don't know how I will be able to survive the banquet. If I eat anything, the dress will get even tighter. I am dreading the whole evening," Princess Diana explained to the royal photographer. The official portraits were then given as gifts to foreign dignitaries and head of state.
In the early 1990s, when the press speculated trouble in the royal marriage, Jayne noticed it through her camera lens. "During the couple's state visit to South Korea, I found it extremely difficult to get a smiling picture of them both. Princess Diana's resentment and loathing were all too obvious. I looked through my lens and could see she had been crying. Her face was red and blotchy, and her eyes were swimming with unshed tears. My heart went out to her." In 1992, Princess Diana asked Jayne to photograph her for an exclusive book that she agreed to pose for. She wasn't aware of its content until it was published. It was, of course, the Princess's biography entitled "Diana: Her True Story" by Andrew Morton. "I was not aware at that time of the content of the book and I never told anyone about the proposed photo session as I didn't feel it was for me to comment," Jayne said.
In the last year of the Princess's life, Jayne photographed her for few times. In October 1996, she took photographs of the Princess on an exclusive shoot for a magazine at the London Lighthouse. Two months later, in December, Jayne took the last photographs of the Princess. The photo session took place at headquarters of the English National Ballet in London. Jayne recalls that day: "Princess Diana was wearing a dark grey trouser suit and did not seem in a particularly happy mood. She decided to take control of the photo session and began ordering me where to take pictures, insisting on posing on a black sofa. The results were extremely disappointing, especially when she paused for only a few seconds in front of the Christmas tree and said I think that's enough now."
The saddest assignment for Jayne was covering Princess Diana's funeral on September 6, 1997. "People may well ask why I agreed to cover the funeral. I can only explain that it was a way of saying goodbye in the way I know best, my professional capacity. I had recorded all the other major events in Princess Diana's life. How could I miss recording her last journey?" Jayne said. When asked how will she remembers the Princess of Wales, Jayne said: "My lasting memory of the Princess will always be the laughter in her blue eyes. Despite her troubles, she always managed to smile and joke with those of us in the British press pack. Her lively sense of humor and her kindness lightened the work load for all of us. There will never be anyone else like her."
Diana: Portrait Of A Princess, By Jayne Fincher. Publication Date: 24 August 1998
An Official Photograph To Mark The Prince's 40th Birthday
Jayne's Last Portraits Of Princess Diana Celebrating Christmas In December 1996