Long before the world¿s photographers had discovered Lady Diana Spencer, she was already displaying an extraordinarily natural poise in front of the cameras
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Few were better at capturing Diana’s luminous beauty than Lord Snowdon as shown in this picture of the princess which has resurfaced ahead of the 25th anniversary of her tragic death, writes RICHARD KAY

Long before the world’s photographers had discovered Lady Diana Spencer, she was already displaying an extraordinarily natural poise in front of the cameras.

Over the years few were better at capturing her luminous beauty than Lord Snowdon, the society cameraman and ex-husband of the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret.

The images he shot were some of the most iconic and memorable of Diana ever taken.

But some such as this long forgotten portrait have been rarely seen. Now with the 25th anniversary of the princess’s tragic death approaching, and five years after Snowdon himself died, it has resurfaced.

Long before the world¿s photographers had discovered Lady Diana Spencer, she was already displaying an extraordinarily natural poise in front of the cameras

Long before the world’s photographers had discovered Lady Diana Spencer, she was already displaying an extraordinarily natural poise in front of the cameras

So too has an unseen shot of Prince William. Indeed, the austere unsmiling figure seated in an outsize oak chair and cradling his pet rabbit scarcely resembles William at all. He was nine when the picture was taken, when the reality of his parents’ failing marriage must have been evident.

How different the royal story looked when this picture of the 19-year-old Diana was snapped. What a remarkable reminder it is of the young woman who mesmerised Prince Charles in the summer of 1980.

It was taken barely two months into their relationship and long before talk of an engagement, let alone marriage, had been aired. Snowdon had been commissioned by Vogue to capture the exquisite glamour of a girl who was to change the Royal Family for ever.

Looking at it today is to marvel at the makers of The Crown and their uncanny choice of the lookalike actress Emma Corrin to play the ingenue Diana in the fourth season of the Netflix series.

So too has an unseen shot of Prince William. Indeed, the austere unsmiling figure seated in an outsize oak chair and cradling his pet rabbit scarcely resembles William at all.

So too has an unseen shot of Prince William. Indeed, the austere unsmiling figure seated in an outsize oak chair and cradling his pet rabbit scarcely resembles William at all.

Looking at it today is to marvel at the makers of The Crown and their uncanny choice of the lookalike actress Emma Corrin to play the ingenue Diana in the fourth season of the Netflix series

Looking at it today is to marvel at the makers of The Crown and their uncanny choice of the lookalike actress Emma Corrin to play the ingenue Diana in the fourth season of the Netflix series

Diana – who would have turned 61 yesterday – was not yet the pin-up she was to become as the world’s most photographed woman. Instead she displays a fragile grace, uncertain of the dazzling effect of her gaze. Her complexion is peachy and those piercing blue eyes are not hidden by what was to become her trademark fringe and that ‘shy Di’ nickname.

And is that a hint of a smile on her face, aware of the great secret she was holding? The world may not have known it yet but the romance with Charles was moving at great pace before becoming fully public in September 1980. They married the following July.

Snowdon was to take many more pictures of Diana – but none when she was as happy as she was here.

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