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For Paparazzi of Europe, Princess's Pictures
Telco CEO
Princess Diana arrives at the London Lighthouse, a residential and support center for people affected by HIV and AIDS, Oct. 8, 1996. (AP)
Were Most Sought-After

By Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 31, 1997; Page A27

The paparazzi of Europe are hungry, relentless, fearless and generally merciless celebrity stalkers, armed with cameras and driven partly by the thrill of the chase and the desire to bag that single exclusive shot that will sell to a tabloid newspaper for five or six figures and make weeks or months of waiting worthwhile.

They are freelancers rather than employees of particular newspapers or magazines and seek the highest bidder for their pictures. They will travel by train, plane, automobile, helicopter or speedboat to find their quarry. They spend much fo their time on the backs of hired motorcycles, driven by hired drivers so that the photographers are free at all times to shoot when their target zooms suddenly into sight for what may be only a fraction of a second.

Of all the quarries, none has been more desired over the past decade than Princess Diana, who was killed last night in an auto accident that reportedly occurred when the princess was being chased through the streets of Paris by paparazzi.

Half a dozen or more paprazzi do nothing lives but wait and watch for Diana, hoping to get anything that will sell. Pictures of Diana coming in and out of her health club fetch the lowest prices. Pictures of Diana with a man fetch the highest.

The paparazzi have prompted her to take evasive tactics as she drives around London in her Mercedes-Benz sports car. Once, two years ago, she thought she had eluded them when visiting her personal psychotherapist late at night. But they caught her as she was leaving, trapping her between her car and a wall so that all she could do was cover her face, shrink in fear and weep in frustration.

The photos that later were published purported to show Diana overwrought with emotion from a presumably wrenching session with her therapist. Later videos showed that her weeping began only in response to being cornered like a hunted animal by the photographers.

While the princess has tolerated much of the intrusion, she surprised people a year ago by seeking and obtaining a court injunction against a particularly aggressive photographer who then complained that somehow she was not playing by the rules in going after him this way.

When not chasing Diana, the paparazzi of London sit around neighborhoods frequented by actors and rock stars, particularly those involved in marital breakups or affairs. They leave their detritus behind for residents to clean up, layers of candy bar wrappers, cigarette butts and soft-drink cans. This is considered lower-grade activity and receives much lowr payment from the papers and magazines than do shots of Diana.

The Princess Diana chase has been the ultimate chase for the paparazzi, taking them from continent to continent. Their pursuit of Diana and Dodi Fayed has been among the most active in modern history, with high-speed boat chases in the Mediterranean, where the couple were spotted vacationing this summer.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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