Never-Before-Seen Photo of Princess Diana Unveiled at Her Former Palace Home 

The new image by renowned photographer David Bailey is on display as part of a new exhibit at Kensington Palace

Princess Diana 1988
Princess Diana. Photo: David Bailey

A striking black-and-white portrait of Princess Diana is going on display at the late royal's former home of Kensington Palace.

The image, which was taken by famed photographer David Bailey in the late '80s, will be part of a new exhibition of portraits of the British royal family.

The picture shows Diana, who died in 1997, appearing "reserved, stoic and looking away from the viewer," according to the curators at Historic Royal Palaces.

Diana sat for the photo in 1988, when she was around 27 years old. Although it was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, the image was retained by Bailey for his archive and has never been seen in public before.

"For me, it is the most powerful of images from the sitting," says curator Claudia Acott Williams.

The Kensington Palace exhibit, Life Through a Royal Lens, was unveiled on Wednesday and will be open to the public on March 4.

Princess Diana
Conservators hang David Bailey photograph of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Diana is said to have chosen Bailey for his "bold minimalism" and was part of her hope to establish a new photographic identity for herself.

Also included is a previously-unseen shot of Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip. The image is an outtake from a portrait taken of them to mark their 70th wedding anniversary in 2017.

Life Through A Royal Lens
Queen Victoria. Historic Royal Palaces

"This speaks to their relationship with each other — it tells us of the chemistry of them, a husband and wife and not just monarch and consort," Acott Williams says. "She had created a warm and informal presence but was retreating from the camera. This was something different."

Bailey has another image in the exhibit of Lord Snowdon, the husband of the Queen's sister Princess Margaret (who also both lived at Kensington Palace).

Life Through A Royal Lens
Queen Victoria's private negatives. Historic Royal Palaces

Covering the reign of Queen Victoria to the present day, the exhibition showcases the British royal family's enduring relationship with the camera — from state ceremonies to royal tours. It captures the Queen as a young princess and daughter of King George VI and shows the original portraits the Queen sat for just weeks after she acceded to the throne in 1952.

Life Through A Royal Lens
King George V & Queen Mary. Historic Royal Palaces

It also includes three images taken by Kate Middleton of her three children.

"There is a naturalness and ease that you would never get with a professional photographer," Acott Williams adds. "It also allows her to create a degree of privacy as she provides the images."

Also joining the exhibition will be a number of photographs taken by members of the public after royal fans and onlookers were asked to send in images they'd taken of the family on their public duties or at official ceremonies over the years.

Life Through A Royal Lens
King George and Queen Mary digging potatoes. Historic Royal Palaces

The display even includes a modern element: the royal family's Instagram accounts. "A lot of them highlighted the proximity of the interaction and gives us a different window into those events," the curator adds.

Visitors also get to see royal photo albums taken by monarchs of the past that give a sense of family life behind closed doors.

Life Through A Royal Lens
Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother, in Buckingham Palace. Historic Royal Palaces

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Acott Williams says, "Ever since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first embraced the revolutionary new technology of photography, the medium has shaped how the world views the British monarchy.

Life Through A Royal Lens
Princess Anne. Historic Royal Palaces

"It has allowed the Royal Family to offer fascinating insights into their life and work, transforming the royal image and creating an unprecedented relationship between crown and subjects. Through our new exhibition at Kensington Palace, Life Through A Royal Lens, we look forward to welcoming our visitors into the world of royal photography, to explore the history behind the iconic image of modern monarchy we know today."

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