The true story behind Princess Diana's iconic yacht photo

All you need to know about the iconic photo of the late princess of wales that went around the globe.

Princess Diana in a blue swimsuit sat on a diving board with the sea beneath her

Princess Diana was always a fashion icon , we can never forget her legendary 'revenge' dress , but one of her best-known looks was snapped when she holidayed on the Jonikal yacht with the al-Fayed family, scenes which were immortalised in the fifth and sixth seasons of The Crown .

The holiday that Diana enjoyed, alongside sons Prince William and Prince Harry , would be her last before she was tragically killed in a car accident in 1997. One of the most memorable photos saw the late Princess of Wales sat on the yacht's diving board looking out over the sea.

Even though the photo of Diana in the teal swimsuit is now one of the most poignant photos of the late royal, how much do you know of the story behind it? Read on to find out all you need to know…

Why was Diana on the yacht?

Princess Diana had become friends with the businessman Mohamed al-Fayed, with the pair reportedly meeting a polo match before becoming friends. Following her divorce from the then Prince Charles and the ending of her relationship with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, Mohamed invited Diana to join him and his family on a trip to St Tropez, in southern France.

Ahead of the trip, Diana had been in Milan to attend the funeral of fashion designer and friend Gianna Versace, who had been murdered by Andrew Cunanan. The late royal later travelled to Sarajevo, in Bosnia, to highlight the issue of landmines in the country. During her time in the city, she met with people who had been injured by the mines.

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The trip would end up being Diana's first time meeting Dodi al-Fayed, and the filmmaker's then-girlfriend, Kelly Fisher, was allegedly on the trip.

Who took the photo?

On 10 August, paparazzi photos were published in the Sunday Mirror showing Princess Diana and Dodi sharing a kiss, which intensified media presence around the couple and their holiday. Paparazzi photographers began renting dinghies to try and get new photos of the royal, with some even going for prices up to £1million.

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It's ultimately unknown which photographer grabbed the photo of Diana on the side of the yacht, which was published on 24 August, a week before Diana died. The snap saw the Princess in her teal swimsuit sat at the end of the yacht's diving board, with a life ring floating in the water beneath her.

See below for more images of Diana on the Jonikal…

Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed embracing on the deck of a yacht

Diana and Dodi

Diana and Dodi grew close on the trip, and in this photo the pair shared an intimate moment as they relaxed in the sun together.

Princess Diana with Mohamed al-Fayed and Dodi al-Fayed on a yacht

Diana with the al-Fayed family

The late Princess of Wales had been invited on the trip by Mohamed al-Fayed, and she enjoyed the businessman's company during her time onboard.

Dodi al-Fayed and Princess Diana on a yacht

Diana in blue

Diana favoured the teal swimsuit during her time in St Tropez.

Princess Diana in a green and blue swimsuit on the deck of a yacht

Diana's paparazzi moment

The royal was aware of the media presence, and she light-heartedly teased photographers in this photo, mimicking a pair of binoculars with her hands.

Princess Diana stretching on the deck of a yacht

Diana stretches

The mum-of-two also brought this stunning green and blue one-piece with her on the trip, and in this photo she enjoyed some morning stretches on the yacht's deck.

Princess Diana on the phone with a young Prince Harry

Diana's family moment

Diana didn't go on the holiday alone, and she also enjoyed time with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry, and a young Harry can be seen here with his mum while she spoke to someone on the phone.

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foto diana dodi yacht

Princess Diana’s Yacht Saga: Revisiting the Boats She Vacationed on With Dodi Fayed

I n the summer of 1997, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana’s yacht adventures were the infatuation of the tabloids, paparazzi, and public like no other. The pair were captured sailing around the Mediterranean in July, first with both of their families, then again, just them, at the end of the month, spurring nonstop controversy and speculation. Weeks later the couple was killed in a tragic car accident, prompting even greater interest in the brief but impactful relationship. Nearly 30 years later, understanding just what happened on the high seas remains a notable point of interest for many invested in the Royal Family.

The momentous vacation was recently recreated in season six of Netflix’s The Crown and recounted in Prince Harry’s 2023 memoir, Spare . While conversations about the trip often recount what the couple did—and what Diana wore—it’s worth revisiting the stunning vessels where all the escapades took place. Below, AD surveys the two superyachts Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed used during their prominent summer together.

Jonikal, now known as Isabell Princess of the Sea

The sensationalized couple most famously spent time on Jonikal , a 208-foot superyacht. At the time, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi’s father, owned the boat. Reportedly, he originally invited Diana to the yacht in an attempt to play matchmaker between the People’s Princess and his son.

Those who watch The Crown will be unsurprised to learn that the interiors of Jonikal , which has since been renamed Isabell Princess Of The Sea by a new owner, are just as lavish as those depicted in the look-alike on the show. Inside, the ship boasts nine staterooms, a formal dining room, bar, office space, swim platform, sun deck, and Jacuzzi. Designed by navel architect Vincenzo Ruggiero in the 1980s, coffered ceilings and dark wood paneling draw inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s.

In his memoir, Prince Harry remembers his experience on the yacht as idyllic. “There was much laughter, horseplay, the norm whenever Mummy and Willy and I were together, though even more so on that holiday,” he writes. “Everything about that trip to St. Tropez was heaven. The weather was sublime, the food was tasty, Mummy was smiling.”

After the original trip with her children, the princess returned to the boat a second time with just the younger Fayed. According to Vanity Fair , Fayed catered to all of Di’s preferences, even letting her pick the music that played. Reportedly, she opted for tunes by George Michael, Frank Sinatra, and the English Patient soundtrack.

Nearby, a brigade of press boats captured a number of photos of Princess Diana on the yacht, formally immortalizing the vessel. Most famously, Princess Diana was captured sitting alone on the vessel’s passerelle in a now iconic image. According to Boat International , the yacht most recently sold in 2023.

As Robb Report describes it, Cujo, a 65-foot military-style superyacht was once the most famous in the world thanks to her high-profile passengers. In 1997, Fayed reportedly used this smaller vessel to woo the princess.

The impressive yacht was originally launched in 1972, commissioned by its first owner John von Neumann. According to Robb Report, Von Neumann hired Italian shipyard Baglietto to build him a boat that was “faster than any other motoryacht on the water.” During its maiden voyage, Cujo had largely achieved this goal thanks to its twin 54-liter V-18 turbo diesel engines, which provided 2,700 horsepower and allowed it to easily hit 46 miles per hour. Von Neumann eventually sold the boat to arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who later passed the boat to Dodi Fayed, his nephew.

However, the boat’s story came to a dramatic end last summer, when it sunk off the coast of France, as reported by The Independent . According to a Facebook post from the Gendarmerie des Alpes-Maritimes, a division of the French military, passengers issued a distress call at around 12:30 local time on July 29, 2023. A little under an hour later, a rescue boat arrived, finding the vessel’s bow already partially submerged. “The cabins of the yacht were already flooded, and only a few suitcases located in the kitchen and on the deck could be retrieved by the gendarmes,” reads the statement. The seven passengers who were on board had already evacuated and were safely on a nearby lifeboat. Rescuers and passengers then quickly left the area, as the boat sank 2,500 feet to the ocean’s floor. The cause of the accident was not shared; however, according to Boat International , sources claimed that the ship hit an unknown object floating near the center of the hull.

Though Princess Diana was among the most notable guests onboard, other high-profile passengers hosted by Fayed included Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Bruce Willis, and Brooke Shields. Following the passing of Di and Fayed, Cujo fell into disrepair and decommissioned in 1999. After many years in storage, Fayed’s cousin Moody Al-Fayed purchased the vessel and brought it back to life. He later sold the boat to Simon Kidston, a British car collector and restorer and the last-reported owner of the vessel.

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Princess Diana’s Yacht Saga: Revisiting the Boats She Vacationed on With Dodi Fayed

Diana's last day: Dodi's yacht, a Ritz suite, a diamond ring and relentless photographers

Diana, divorced from Prince Charles after he cheated on her, was the mother of the future king of England and the most photographed woman in the world

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By Michael S. Rosenwald

The last day of Princess Diana’s life began on the top deck of her lover’s yacht, with croissants and fresh jams.

Diana and her beau, Dodi Al Fayed, sipped their coffee marveling at the breathtaking Emerald Coast in Sardinia. Diana took hers with milk. Fayed took his black. There were kiwis, too.

“They were in a good mood,” his butler remembered later. “They were always laughing, holding hands.”

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Their romance was a whirlwind — passionate, thrilling, scandalous. Fayed, the son of Harrod’s department store owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, was a rich playboy. Diana, divorced from Prince Charles after he cheated on her, was the mother of the future king of England and the most photographed woman in the world.

That Saturday — Aug. 30, 1997 — promised to be a moment of change. The princess knew it. She snuck a call to Richard Kay, a friend who covered the Royals for the Daily Mail, and told him, as he later wrote, “she had decided to radically change her life.”

“She was going to complete her obligations to her charities,” Kay continued, “and then, around November, would completely withdraw from her formal public life.” Diana had not told Kay why, but he had a hunch: “They were, to use an old but priceless cliche, blissfully happy. I cannot say for certain that they would have married, but in my view it was likely.”

In the 20 years since she’s been gone, there have been countless revisions to this love story. Her friends and relatives: They weren’t in love! His friends and relatives: They were in love!

Get a dash of perspective along with the trending news of the day in a very readable format.

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Last week, in the Daily Mail, Kay published an article with this headline: “Was Diana about to dump Dodi?” In it, he quoted Diana’s private secretary saying she’d planned to return home after becoming bored with Fayed.

“It’s very much a personal view,” the secretary said, “but I don’t think she would have seen Dodi again once she got back.”

Whatever the case, Fayed wanted to propose that fateful night. It was summer. As they were on holiday, Britain announced plans to invite the Irish Republican Army for peace talks. Conspiracies theories about the suicide of Vincent Foster, President Bill Clinton’s lawyer, were spreading. Israel and Lebanon were sparring with one another.

Fayed’s primary concern was the six-figure diamond ring waiting in Paris. People close to Fayed said the couple picked it out a week earlier even though they had been dating less than a month.

The danger of their relationship wasn’t its brevity. To royal watchers, to Buckingham Palace, and no doubt to the British tabloids whose photographers were hounding them, the threat was something the couple apparently had not yet considered, even as rumours swirled that Diana was already pregnant.

“For the mother of the future king of England to bear the child of a Muslim Arab, a child who would be the half sibling of the heir to the throne, would be embarrassing in the eyes of the royal family and the ruling Establishment,” former Time magazine reporters Tom Sancton and Scott MacLeod wrote in their book, Death of a Princess .

Fayed’s calendar that day had just one entry — at 6:30 p.m., he was to pick up the ring at a store near his father’s hotel in Paris, The Ritz. They left the boat for Fayed’s plane around 11:30 a.m., taking along the butler and a masseuse for Fayed’s painful back.

As soon as they landed in Paris, Fayed saw the paparazzi out his window.

“Dodi did not want this special occasion ruined by a bunch of a shutter-happy cowboys trying to corral them on motorcycles and shoving lenses in their faces,” the ex-Time reporters wrote. “As soon as the door opened, cameras started clicking.”

The aggressiveness of the photographers — and their sheer numbers — would increase as the day progressed.

Diana and Fayed arrived at The Ritz in the late afternoon. She went to the salon for a hair appointment. He went to the jeweler. The couple then rested in the hotel’s Imperial Suite before going to Fayed’s apartment to get dressed for dinner. She checked in with her children, who were in Scotland with Prince Charles and the queen.

“On that Saturday evening, Diana was as happy as I have ever known her,” her friend Kay wrote in the Daily Mail. “For the first time in years, all was well with her world.”

They left for Fayed’s apartment around 7 p.m., trailed by photographers. More were waiting at the building’s front door when they arrived. Fayed fumed. There was an ugly shoving match.

Once inside, Fayed pulled his butler aside, telling him about his plan to propose that night.

“The ring was on the nightstand in his bedroom,” author Christopher Anderson wrote in “The Day Diana Died.” “Dodi had checked to make sure they had several bottles of Dom Pérignon on ice for the big moment.”

But dinner was a bust.

The first restaurant they tried — Chez Benoit, a cozy, casual bistro not far from the city centre – was quickly overrun by photographers. They split and headed for The Ritz, ducking into the dining room hoping to be left alone.

The princess ordered vegetable tempura. Fayed ordered grilled turbot.

“No sooner had they ordered,” the ex-Time reporters wrote, “they began to feel the indiscreet stares of other diners.”

The couple left and had the food delivered to the Imperial Suite. Fayed’s plan was in shambles. They had to get back to the apartment. But how? The hotel was swarming with photographers.

Fayed devised a plan: The couple’s driver and bodyguards would make a big show out front, appearing to get their caravan of Mercedes sedans ready to leave. Meanwhile, the Princess and Fayed would slip out the back door, in a borrowed car driven by a hotel security officer.

What happened next was the subject of lengthy investigations and conspiracy theories that live on today. The couple did get away. But the driver, it turned out, was drunk.

As the couple sped off, the photographers out front got tipped off about the escape, quickly catching up on their motorcycles. Their driver darted in and out of traffic, wrecking spectacularly inside the Pont de l’Alma tunnel near the Eiffel Tower.

Fayed died instantly. Diana died at the hospital.

Her death startled the world.

An up-and-coming anchor named Brian Williams broke into regular coverage on MSNBC to announce the news to Americans in the early morning hours of Aug. 31.

“I’ve just been handed from the Reuters news service what has been marked ‘bulletin,'” Williams said, speaking slowly. “It says, ‘Princess Diana has died.'”

She was 36.

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The True Story Behind 'The Crown’s Infamous Kiss Photograph

Princess Diana became the most photographed woman in the world after "The Kiss."

Editor's note: The below contains spoilers for Season 6 of The Crown.

The Big Picture

  • Princess Diana's life was constantly invaded by the paparazzi, who followed her every movement and turned her personal relationships into a public spectacle.
  • Mario Brenna's photograph of Diana and Dodi Fayed sharing an intimate moment on a yacht sparked a frenzy in the press and fueled a relentless pursuit for their pictures.
  • The paparazzi's obsession with capturing Diana's image ultimately contributed to her tragic death in a car crash, and "The Kiss" photograph played a significant role in these events.

Since the imminent rise of paparazzi culture during the 1990s, candid photographs of celebrities have always held a negative stigma, especially after the tragic death of Princess Diana ( Elizabeth Debicki ). Part 1 of The Crown 's final season, streaming on Netflix, has a major focus on the summer of 1997, when the recently divorced Princess of Wales became the prized jewel of a media frenzy. Without the personal security of the Royal Family, Diana was not afforded the kind of privacy she was given during her marriage to Prince Charles ( Dominic West ). Her every movement was followed through long-lens cameras ( Diana reportedly yelled at a photographer outside a movie theater in London and shouted, “You make my life hell!" ), and the press made her life into a scrutinized fishbowl — even her personal relationships were not her own.

Episode 2, "Two Photographs," revisits the paparazzi's ruthless pursuit of Princess Diana's picture. The start of the show introduces the audience to a real-life character who was responsible for capturing the infamous Sunday Mirror photograph, Italian paparazzo Mario Brenna . The photograph shows "Di" and Dodi Fayed ( Khalid Abdalla ) sharing an intimate moment aboard a yacht on the Mediterranean Sea. Although the latest season of The Crown is a dramatized account of these events , it's no secret that Brenna's successful photograph is shown to have preluded Diana's deathly car chase less than a month later. But there's so much more to the story behind "The Kiss."

Follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II's reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.

What's the Truth Behind Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's Romance?

On July 11, 1997, Diana and her sons, Prince William ( Rufus Kampas ) and Prince Harry ( Fflyn Edwards ), were kindly invited to join Mohamed Al-Fayed ( Salim Daw ), the business owner of Hôtel Ritz Paris and Harrods department store, at his Saint Tropez villa for a summer vacation. Dodi Fayed unexpectedly joined the party aboard Al-Fayed's yacht t he Jonikal, which becomes an integral character of its own seen in the final season of The Crown . Di, Dodi, and the Princes were said to have enjoyed a splendid time aboard the yacht, and Diana and Dodi grew fond of one another during this period.

According to Netflix's Beneath The Crown: The True Story of Diana and Dodi's Last Summer , both Princess Diana and Dodi were involved with other romantic partners before they met. Diana was reportedly dating heart surgeon Hasnat Khan ( Humayun Saeed ), whom she often referred to as "Mr. Wonderful," and clearly had big plans for their future . In the summer of 1997, Dr. Khan was rumored to have broken up with the Princess because of the consistent media attention surrounding them. On the other hand, Dodi, being a successful film producer , had a reputation as a playboy and was seen dating multiple A-list women over the course of his Hollywood career, including actress Brooke Shields, before meeting model Kelly Fisher, whom he was engaged to at the time he met the Princess of Wales.

After the vacation, Diana returned home to an apartment full of roses and an $11,000 gold Cartier watch as a present from Dodi. Diana's friends believe she developed an interest in dating Dodi to make Dr. Khan jealous . Just 11 days later, the Princess returned alone to the Jonikal and embarked on a week-long trip with Al-Fayed's son. The media went crazy, with rumors spreading of a possible romance. Most of the press coverage was heavily negative, which sparked numerous amounts of controversy around the pair. Photographers rose in numbers as the couple's relationship grew truer every day. Per Beneath The Crown , it surfaced that Mohamed Al-Fayed asked renowned publicist Max Clifford to positively endorse their relationship. Photographers were then tipped off to find Diana and Dodi's location, and on August 10, Mario Brenna found them first.

How Did Mario Brenna's "The Kiss" Change Princess Diana's Life Forever?

Per The Independent , Mario Brenna was an official photographer for the Versace fashion house who lived in Monaco in 1997. Brenna happened to discover the yacht on an inflatable boat off of the Sardinian coast (He claims he spent occasional summers around the Mediterranean Sea to catch celebrities vacationing, as stated in the National Post .) He slowly approached the Jonikal when he thought he had seen a former acquaintance. To his shock, it was actually the "People's Princess" in the arms of Dodi Fayed. Captured from 500 yards away, Brenna hurriedly snapped photos of the couple "kissing" onboard and flew straight to London to show fellow celebrity photographer Jason Fraser the historic images.

Brenna recounts finding the couple that day as a “great stroke of luck." Despite the summer haze, the photograph sparked a chaotic bidding war between major publishing companies. Brenna ultimately sold "The Kiss" to the Sunday Mirror for £250,000 . The Sun and The Daily additionally paid him £100,000 each. Fraser, who helped in negotiating the deals, sold the rights internationally, which brought their earnings to over $2.1 million in global sales.

Following Brenna's phenomenon, "The Kiss" fueled an all-out paparazzi hunt for Princess Diana and Dodi's picture. Everywhere they traveled, the paparazzi hounded the couple, with no respect for their privacy. If Brenna could make a fortune out of one photo, other photographers had a chance to do the same. Diana participated in several humanitarian works following the picture, including becoming an advocate for landmine removals in developing countries. However, her efforts were regularly overlooked by her affair with Dodi. The couple also received racist backlash after "The Kiss," with most comments disapproving of Dodi's ethnicity as depicted in The Crown .

Swarms of press, even helicopters, surrounded the yacht in which Dodi and Diana often stayed. As stated in Beneath The Crown, Dodi had encouraged Diana to dabble in Hollywood acting, with talks to co-star alongside Kevin Costner in a sequel to the box-office hit The Bodyguard . These dreams would never come to fruition. On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed were declared dead following a car crash through a tunnel at Place de l’Alma in Paris, France . There are countless conspiracies revolving around their deaths, but it was undeniable that their car was mercilessly tailed by a pack of paparazzi who wanted to snap the couple's picture. Mario Brenna confesses to The New York Times that he couldn't help but think "The Kiss" triggered the horrifying events that led to the death of Princess Diana: "If it hadn’t been me, someone else would certainly have captured those images."

What Does 'The Crown' Get Right and Wrong About "The Kiss"?

The Crown is no stranger to negative criticism when it comes to dramatizing the lives of the Royal Family. Aside from a few historical flaws, Episode 2, "Two Photographs", surprisingly does an adequate job of re-imagining the events that made Princess Diana one of the most photographed persons of all time. What the show changes is Prince Charles's reaction to seeing the picture in the Sunday Mirror. The episode depicts Charles hiring Scottish photographer Duncan Muir, a fictionalized character, to take pictures of him with William and Harry as a ploy to outshine the publicity from Diana's controversial photo. It is later revealed that the Scotland photoshoot dominated the front pages of The Mirror and The Daily Record, but this didn't happen.

According to Business Insider , on August 12, 1997, the young Princes and their father participated in a photo shoot at the royals' annual vacation at Balmoral. A handful of photographers snapped the photos, not one, and the images were featured only on pages eight, nine, and five of the respective newspapers. The failed Scotland pics were still overshadowed by the public's fascination with "The Kiss," and the press made rather unfavorable remarks with subheadings like: "Young princes look embarrassed by dad's Harry Lauder image."

"Two Photographs" also mixes up some facts regarding how Dodi started courting the "People's Princess." In the show, Mohamed Al-Fayed acts as a matchmaker for the couple, endlessly pressuring Dodi to flirt with the Princess in order to prove he is worthy of inheriting his father's wealth. Dodi seems stressed about making a connection with Diana during her vacation onboard the yacht as he is engaged to Kelly Fisher (a fact that is accurate). When the couple does become more intimate, The Crown implies that Al-Fayed tipped off Mario Brenna as to their whereabouts, but Brenna claimed the misconception that Al-Fayed hired him to take "The Kiss" was "absurd and completely invented."

What the final season does right in Part 1 is the portrayal of Diana and Dodi's romantic affair and the paparazzi's relentless invasion of their private lives. Di and Dodi briefly dated for a little over a month, and their relationship was always under the microscope. As shown in The Crown , the pair did develop fond feelings for one another, and a rumored engagement as well, but the press could only imagine what their true relationship entailed. History has proven that Diana was nothing but a cash grab to the paparazzi who sought her out only in hopes of making a fortune overnight. Once she and Dodi became the eye of the world, the media never respected her space, time, or family when it came to capturing "the shot." The Crown ultimately does not sugarcoat the brutal paparazzi culture that led to Princess Diana's final moments .

Per the National Post, Brenna admitted that The Crown never made an effort to contact him about the true story of how he captured "The Kiss" or his feelings following the doomed aftermath. Furthermore, he told the Times he does not agree with how he or the paparazzi are represented in the final season. "Two Photographs," despite its blemishes, urges fans to acknowledge the prestigious drama as a fictionalized chronicle and acts as a time machine to reflect on the unfortunate events that shocked the world into a bitter period of grief. If "The Kiss" was never captured, would the "People's Princess" still be here today?

The Crown is available to stream exclusively on Netflix in the U.S.

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Inside The Yacht Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed Toured the Mediterranean On

The princess and her paramour vacationed on the yacht shortly before their tragic deaths in 1997.

preview for Princess Diana’s Best Style Moments

Just a month before their passing, Diana and Dodi—joined for part of the trip by her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry—traveled the South of France aboard a superyacht. Then named the Jonikal (it has subsequently been called the Sokar , and the Bash ), the yacht was owned by Dodi's father, former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed , when Diana traveled on it. Following the 1997 car crash that led to the couple's deaths, Mohamed attempted to sell the yacht on a number of occasions before ultimately parting with it in 2014.

lady diana

In 2022, it was announced that the 208-foot yacht, which saw the beloved royal's last vacation, would be going up for sale. According to Boat International , the vessel sold in June of 2023 following a €9 million refit.

The ship, which was first launched in 1990, reportedly has nine staterooms to hold up to 12 guests with amenities including a jacuzzi, swim platform, sun deck, formal dining room, a bar, and office space. Though the ultimate sale price for the vessel has not been revealed, the asking price was reportedly €15,500,000.

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Lauren Hubbard is a freelance writer and Town & Country contributor who covers beauty, shopping, entertainment, travel, home decor, wine, and cocktails.

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‘The Crown’: Behind the Photo of an Embrace That Changed Princess Diana’s Life

In the show, Mohamed al-Fayed sends the photographer Mario Brenna to capture shots of Diana and al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, on vacation. The portrayal is inaccurate, Brenna says.

In a blurry photo from 1997, a woman in a pink swimsuit is seen from behind, embracing a topless man wearing sunglasses.

By Alex Marshall

Reporting from London

It’s summer 1997, and Princess Diana is flirting with Dodi Fayed, a globe-trotting playboy, on the Jonikal, a yacht floating on sparkling Mediterranean waters.

Diana, teasingly, says that she likes men who have lips that are “just the right temperature.”

“Are mine the right temperature?” Dodi replies.

“I don’t know,” Diana says: “Need to check.” Then, the couple kiss, blissfully unaware that just a few meters away, Mario Brenna, a slick Italian photographer, is on a boat, with a long-lens camera trained on the couple.

A few days later, Brenna’s shots of the princess and her new beau are on the front pages of newspapers worldwide.

This is a central scene in the sixth and final season of Netflix’s royal drama “The Crown” — the first batch of episodes premiered on Thursday — and a moment that signaled the start of a tabloid frenzy around the couple that many blame for their deaths on Aug. 31, 1997, in a car crash in Paris as they were chased by photographers.

Yet the depiction is far from accurate, according to Brenna, speaking in what he said was his first interview with an English-language newspaper.

For a start, “The Crown” has Mohamed al-Fayed — Dodi’s father, and a retail and hotel tycoon who died this year — appearing to hire Brenna to take the shots, in an effort to push Diana and Dodi’s relationship into the public eye, and cajole the pair to marry.

In an email, Annie Sulzberger, the head of research for the show — she is also the sister of The Times’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger — said that “there are a few theories about how Brenna managed to find the Jonikal moored somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea,” but the one the team found most credible was that one of al-Fayed’s employees leaked the boat’s location to Brenna.

But Brenna said the idea that al-Fayed hired him was “absurd and completely invented,” and that no one leaked information about the yacht’s whereabouts to him. Every summer at that time, he was in Sardinia so he could take paparazzi shots of famous people, he said, and coming across Diana and Dodi was simply a “great stroke of luck.”

On Aug. 1, 1997, Brenna said he approached Diana’s yacht on a fast moving inflatable boat after mistaking a blonde woman making a telephone call on its upper deck for an old acquaintance. As he got closer, he was stunned to realize it was the princess.

Bruno Malka, Brenna’s agent at the time who helped sell the images to Paris Match magazine, said in an email that he thought Brenna was familiar with the yacht, “without knowing it was Diana and Dodi” onboard that day. Brenna was successful, Malka added, because he had spent so many years working in the region.

After spotting the couple, Brenna said he spent the next few days stalking the boat, including climbing a cliff to get a better view. From that elevated position, about 400 meters away from Diana, he took several photos of Diana and Dodi in an embrace. The shots were almost blurred, Brenna said, because the heat haze meant he struggled to get the pair in focus.

Still, he knew immediately he’d secured “a historic photo.” He’d also captured an image that “solved my personal and family problems,” he said, at a time when he had recently divorced and so “was not swimming in wealth.”

He unloaded the rolls of film from the camera, then buried them to make sure they didn’t get exposed to the sun as he tried to take more images, and also as he feared a competitor might have seen him at work and try to steal his camera and so obtain the images every other photographer in the Mediterranean had been hoping to get first.

On Aug. 10, the Sunday Mirror, a British tabloid, splashed Brenna’s image on its front page . “The Kiss,” the headline read. Soon, Brenna said, he was selling the pictures worldwide. In the following six-to-eight months, he said, he made about 1.7 million pounds, or $2.1 million, from his photos of the couple.

Brenna’s pictures — and the prices news outlets paid for them — sparked a frenzy. In 2013, Jason Fraser, a British photographer who helped Brenna sell his images, told The Daily Mail that after they were published, over 2,000 photographers arrived in the Mediterranean hoping to get their own snaps of Diana and Dodi. “I felt the whole thing was spinning out of control,” Fraser said. Weeks later, the couple died.

In “The Crown,” Brenna (portrayed by Enzo Cilenti) explains his methods to camera. To capture celebrities misbehaving, the fictional Brenna says, you have to take risks. Paparazzi also have to act like “hunters … killers.”

Brenna said in the email interview that he did not share this opinion of his work (“I do not identify with the term ‘killer,’”) and that he was never contacted by anyone from “The Crown” to learn about his experiences (Netflix did not respond to a request for comment).

After Diana and Dodi’s death, al-Fayed sued Fraser, the British photographer, for taking photos of Diana and Dodi on a boat, saying it was an invasion of privacy. Brenna said he did not face any such action, adding his images were legal as they “were taken outdoors, in a public place.” And he regretted the privacy crackdown that happened since, with governments and stars trying to stop the paparazzi from taking photos: “There is still the right to report,” he said.

Today, Brenna lives near Lake Como, in Italy, where he said he’s photographed celebrities including George Clooney, Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé, even as the dawn of social media had impacted his profession significantly, including its financial rewards.

Brenna said he and his family enjoyed the success of the photos throughout August 1997. But then, Diana died. When he heard the news, Brenna said, he “couldn’t believe it” and cried, not least because he had two children himself and so could understand what her death would mean for Diana’s boys. He made a decision “not to speak or disclose anything about the incident until William and Harry reached adulthood.”

The mere thought that his images “could have contributed to fueling the hunt for Diana and Dodi obviously saddens me,” Brenna said. But he did not think his work added significantly to the furor around the princess.

“If it hadn’t been me,” he added, “someone else would certainly have captured those images.”

Alex Marshall is a European culture reporter, based in London. More about Alex Marshall

Princess Diana in The Crown and on holiday in 1997.

Here Are The Real Photos Of Diana On Vacation That Inspired Those Scenes In The Crown

The Princess of Wales did indeed have a little chat with paparazzi on a boat.

The sixth and final season of The Crown got off to an emotional start by depicting Princess Diana’s final weeks before her death in August 1997. At the time, Princess Diana was newly dating Dodi Fayed, son of Harrod’s owner Mohamed Al-Fayed and famously spent time on Al-Fayed’s yacht in the south of France that summer with 12-year-old Prince Harry and 15-year-old Prince William. She was being constantly followed by the paparazzi, and is seen confronting photographers in The Crown in an effort to get them to leave her sons alone so they could enjoy their holiday. Which, according to photos taken of the princess at the time, appears to be at least somewhat based on a real event.

Season 6, Part 1 of The Crown saw Princess Diana (played by Elizabeth Debicki) vacationing off the coast of Saint-Tropez with her sons, Prince Harry and Prince William (played by Fflyn Edwards and Rufus Kampa, respectively), on Al-Fayed’s yacht. If The Crown is to be believed, Prince William in particular was struggling to have a good time on his holiday because of the constant presence of the paparazzi. And so, Princess Diana decided to throw on a swimsuit and jet over to the photographers to pose for some shots in an effort to get them to leave.

The Crown’s version...

Princess Diana confronted paparazzi.

“Enjoying your holiday?” a member of the paparazzi asks Princess Diana in The Crown when she is seen approaching them on a boat, and she replies. “Yes, we’re having a lovely time, apart from one little thing, you lot. Seriously, how long are we going to have the pleasure of your company? The attention is starting to freak out the boys.”

She offered the paparazzi a “surprise” if they would leave her sons alone as they snapped photos of her. And while we don’t know if the real Princess Diana offered them a surprise, she absolutely did confront them that summer.

How it looked in real life...

SAINT-TROPEZ, FRANCE - JULY 17: Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing an animal print, halterneck swimsu...

A year after Princess Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris, journalist and biographer Sally Bedell Smith wrote about the royal’s relationship with the paparazzi for Vanity Fair — in particular, that fateful summer in the south of France. “On a holiday in July 1997 with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and his family in Saint-Tropez,” Bedell Smith wrote at the time, “she first eluded paparazzi by crawling along a balcony and hiding behind a towel, then surprised a contingent of British tabloid reporters and photographers ... by addressing them from her motorboat in a fetching leopard-print bathing suit. ‘You will have a big surprise coming soon, the next thing I do,’ she teased, and implied that she was thinking of living abroad.”

This wasn’t the only moment that the Netflix series recreated from Princess Diana’s holiday that last summer. Princess Diana was also seen in a super colorful swim suit, hanging out on the beach with her sons. A scene The Crown pulled off perfectly.

Princess Diana in The Crown

In real life, most of the photos from that moment were taken with Princess Diana spending time with her sons on the yacht, even wrapping her son Prince Harry up in a big hug while wearing the iconic swimsuit.

ST TROPEZ, FRANCE - JULY 17 1997: (FILE PHOTO) Diana, Princess Of Wales and youngest son HRH Prince ...

Princess Diana was also photographed sitting on the diving board of Al-Fayed’s yacht, all alone in a bright blue bathing suit. Looking, some might say, quite lonely.

Princess Diana's final days were in 'The Crown.'

Like the series showed, Princess Diana in 1997 was also seen wearing a bright blue one-piece swimsuit, staring off into space.

foto diana dodi yacht

While The Crown has certainly done an impeccable job of recreating real-life photos of moments from the lives of royals, it’s important to remember that these are dramatized and fictionalized versions of real events. No matter how spot-on they might look to us.

This article was originally published on November 20, 2023

foto diana dodi yacht

The Luxurious Yacht (Made in Italy) for Lady Diana’s Last Vacation

In the summer of 1997, photos of Diana and Dodi on holiday traveled around the world, sparking controversy back at Buckingham Palace. We take a closer look at the unforgettable yacht where the Princess of Wales spent her last vacation

lady diana sulla yacht jonikal

It was on the morning of August 31, 1997, when the BBC woke the world to shocking news: Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales , was the victim of a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel of Paris, together with her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed, when their car, driven by Henri Paul, crashed against the tunnel’s thirteenth pillar.

It was a pre-social era, when communication didn’t spread as fast as it does today, and yet Lady Diana’s story was broadcast immediately across every media channel imaginable. Diana, a timeless style icon admired worldwide for her gentle demeanor, was spending a relaxing vacation with Dodi aboard the Jonikal luxury yacht that summer, twenty-five years ago . Every photo of them was quickly picked up and published in magazines around the globe: the title of the Sunday Mirror’s first page on Sunday, August 10, 1997, read “The Kiss,” capturing the couple’s intimate moment aboard the yacht. But perhaps even more iconic was the August 24, 1997 photograph of Diana on the walkway of the Jonikal luxury yacht in the waters of Portofino.

lady diana à bord du "jonikal"

The pictures of Diana in her swimsuit, who at 36 was as glamorous as ever, were a far cry from those of the young Princess aboard the Britannia royal yacht during her honeymoon with Prince Charles in 1981. The two yachts are also very different: the HMY Britannia was a 126-meter yacht belonging to the British Royal Family, while Jonikal was a 65-meter luxury yacht belonging to the Al-Fayed family and built by the Italian Codecasa shipyard.

After the couple’s tragic accident, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi’s father, attempted to sell the yacht numerous times before it was purchased in 2014. The luxury yacht, originally named Jonikal by the Al-Fayed family, then Sokar and, more recently, Bash, can host up to 18 guests in 9 cabins and 26 crew members. The Jonikal yacht was launched in 1989, sailing at a cruising speed of 15 knots and reaching a top speed of 20 knots.

Among its many noteworthy features, the luxury yacht includes a Jacuzzi, sun deck, formal dining room, main lounge, bar and office. Interiors unfold with dark wood paneling and coffered ceilings contrasting with white to dilate the space. The design is meticulous, curated down to the last detail: for example, all countertops have anti-roll edges, following the best nautical tradition. Beyond the dark wood, the color palette used for interiors unfurls in delicate tones of light blue and beige.

The yacht was last purchased in June 2021 for the sum of $10,000,000 and appears to be for sale once more, although the current price hasn’t been disclosed.

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The Crown: The Sad, Strange Details of Princess Diana’s Last Vacation

foto diana dodi yacht

By Julie Miller

The Crown The Sad Strange Details of Princess Dianas Last Vacation

Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed are lounging on the sundeck of a reportedly £15 million yacht in The Crown ’s season six episode “Two Photographs” when Dodi’s domineering father telephones an onboard employee with an urgent question.

“Are they sleeping together?” Mohamed Al Fayed demands to know. 

It’s an audacious question—but Mohamed really was checking in on the couple hourly during this August 1997 cruise, according to Tom Bower , who wrote an unauthorized biography of the billionaire called Fayed. The late princess was aware that these calls were coming in—so much so that she joked to Dodi, “God is calling,” when she heard a ring, according to Dodi’s spiritual healer, Myriah Daniels, who was onboard. In 2007, during the inquest into the 1997 crash that killed the princess, Dodi, and their driver, Henri Paul, Daniels said that this became one of Diana’s inside jokes with Dodi. “They’d both have a giggle,” she said. 

Diana had vacationed with Mohamed, as well as Prince William and Prince Harry, aboard the Jonikal earlier that summer. As depicted in The Crown ’s season six episode “Persona Non Grata,” that first Jonikal vacation featured Jet Skis and a flirtation between Diana and the flotilla of press nearby. 

“The young princes didn’t like [the trip] much,” Tina Brown writes in The Palace Papers. “The flash and excess of [Mohamed’s] hospitality—the groaning buffets and the palatial bathrooms—embarrassed William in particular.” Dodi, who was asked by his father to join the trip midway, did not help matters by making the “oddly flamboyant gesture of renting a disco for William and Harry to enjoy privately,” according to royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith in Diana in Search of Herself.

Mohamed was a controversial figure who long craved social acceptance by the British elite, and hoped a relationship between his son and the recently-divorced Diana would seal the deal. 

foto diana dodi yacht

During the summer of 1997, the billionaire ordered Dodi to drop everything—including his model fiancée, Kelly Fisher —and romance the late princess. Speaking about Mohamed, Bedell Smith previously told Vanity Fair, “He was really the puppet master behind Dodi and Diana’s very brief, barely more than a month, romance…. Dodi basically did whatever his father told him to do.”

Diana’s association with Mohamed caused serious backlash in the press. “These days, Diana, you are no longer the Teflon Princess,” warned Andrew Morton , the biographer behind her bridge-burning tell-all, Diana: Her True Story, in The Sun. “You might have the run of a £20 million yacht, but your friends and fans see a woman who is drifting on the sea of life, seriously in danger of becoming shipwrecked.” Referring to Diana’s cat-and-mouse game with the paparazzi during that initial trip, columnist Judith Whelan wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald, “Diana has been erratic before. This time, however, she has done it while hosted by one of the most reviled men in Britain.”

Despite the press outrage over her association with Mohamed, Diana agreed to return to the Jonikal for the intimate trip reimagined in “Two Photographs.” “Alone in August and attracted to [Dodi], [a] sympathetic, unthreatening listener, she accepted the invitation for a second trip alone with Dodi to the Jonikal on 31 July,” wrote Bower in Fayed. “Over the next six days…the two frolicked on the sundecks, inside the sumptuous craft and in the sea.”

Dodi indulged Diana with her favorite meals—“which included carrot juice in the morning, fruit at lunch, and fish in the evening, as well as plenty of Champagne, caviar, and pâté de foie gras,” according to Diana in Search of Herself. The music was Diana’s selection as well: George Michael’s 1996 album, Older, the occasional Frank Sinatra tune, and the soundtrack of The English Patient. “Such a marvelous film,” Diana raved to Dodi’s butler, Rene Delorm, according to Fayed. “And you miss the music when you’re watching.”

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Mohamed’s staff was so attentive to Diana that the Jonikal ’s chief stewardess, Deborah Gribble, could remember the tiniest detail, like that some of Diana’s birth control packets were half-used. Speaking at the inquest, she also confirmed that Dodi and Diana “were clearly having a relationship and were a couple.”

Dodi lavished Diana with gifts during their six-week courtship, including a pearl bracelet, a diamond-studded wristwatch, a silver photo frame, and a gold-and-diamond ring. When the Jonikal docked in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo, according to Brown’s The Diana Chronicles, Diana and Dodi went shopping and returned with cashmere sweaters for the princess—one in every color. 

Mohamed, meanwhile, was busy behind the scenes calling press. News of the relationship between Diana and Dodi broke the first week of August, less than a month before Diana’s death. The Sun ran the news with the headline “Di’s Secret Hol With Harrods Hunk Dodi,” while Mohamed’s publicist touted the relationship as “the romance of the century.”

But by the end of the trip, according to those who knew Diana, she intended their fling to be just that. The late princess suspected that Dodi might propose to her, according to Brown, but she told a friend that an engagement ring would be “going firmly on the fourth finger of my right hand” should it be presented. As recreated in “Two Pictures,” there was “a chaotic evening ashore in Monte Carlo when Dodi suddenly decided to send for the tender and take the princess for a walk.” Rather than going for a romantic stroll, however, Dodi “got her lost after a long pant up a hill trying to evade the paparazzi,” Brown writes. 

foto diana dodi yacht

It was so embarrassing, she continues, that Trevor Rees-Jones, a bodyguard on Mohamed’s payroll, “began to feel sorry for the princess; he believed she deserved better.”

According to Gribble, Dodi also became impatient with the amount of press attention Diana was receiving.

“The tension was noticeable throughout the trip and increasing as time wore on,” Gribble revealed during the inquest. “By the time we went to Paris, there was real tension. It was incredible. It was all so tense.” 

Days before her fatal accident, Diana called her sister from the Jonikal, confiding that any love spell cast on her earlier had been broken. While she did not get into specifics, Sarah McCorquodale later told the court, “I just did not think the relationship had much longer to go.”

During that final trip on the Jonikal, Diana was photographed sitting alone on a diving board in an aqua swimsuit. The image remains so iconic that, 26 years after it was taken, Netflix recreated the visual in its promotional materials for The Crown ’s sixth season.

Contrary to what the photo showed, though, Diana was never really alone. By the end of the cruise, the princess suspected that Mohamed was doing more than periodically checking in with the Jonikal staff. As McCorquodale revealed during the inquest, “She thought the boat was being bugged by Mr. Al Fayed Senior.”

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Princess Diana’s Yacht Saga: Revisiting the Boats She Vacationed on With Dodi Fayed

By Katherine McLaughlin

Princess Diana on a superyacht

In the summer of 1997, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana’s yacht adventures were the infatuation of the tabloids, paparazzi, and public like no other. The pair were captured sailing around the Mediterranean in July, first with both of their families, then again, just them, at the end of the month, spurring nonstop controversy and speculation. Weeks later the couple was killed in a tragic car accident, prompting even greater interest in the brief but impactful relationship. Nearly 30 years later, understanding just what happened on the high seas remains a notable point of interest for many invested in the Royal Family.

The momentous vacation was recently recreated in season six of Netflix’s The Crown and recounted in Prince Harry’s 2023 memoir, Spare . While conversations about the trip often recount what the couple did—and what Diana wore—it’s worth revisiting the stunning vessels where all the escapades took place. Below, AD surveys the two superyachts Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed used during their prominent summer together.

Jonikal, now known as Isabell Princess of the Sea

The sensationalized couple most famously spent time on Jonikal , a 208-foot superyacht. At the time, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi’s father, owned the boat. Reportedly, he originally invited Diana to the yacht in an attempt to play matchmaker between the People’s Princess and his son.

Princess Diana sunbathing on a yacht

Princess Diana sunbathes on an orange couch aboard Jonikal .

Those who watch The Crown will be unsurprised to learn that the interiors of Jonikal , which has since been renamed Isabell Princess Of The Sea by a new owner, are just as lavish as those depicted in the look-alike on the show. Inside, the ship boasts nine staterooms, a formal dining room, bar, office space, swim platform, sun deck, and Jacuzzi. Designed by navel architect Vincenzo Ruggiero in the 1980s, coffered ceilings and dark wood paneling draw inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s.

Diana Princess of Wales wearing a animal print halterneck swimsuit and sunglasses rides on a jet ski with Prince Harry

Princess Diana and Prince Harry on a jet ski near St. Tropez

In his memoir, Prince Harry remembers his experience on the yacht as idyllic. “There was much laughter, horseplay, the norm whenever Mummy and Willy and I were together, though even more so on that holiday,” he writes. “Everything about that trip to St. Tropez was heaven. The weather was sublime, the food was tasty, Mummy was smiling.”

After the original trip with her children, the princess returned to the boat a second time with just the younger Fayed. According to Vanity Fair , Fayed catered to all of Di’s preferences, even letting her pick the music that played. Reportedly, she opted for tunes by George Michael, Frank Sinatra, and the English Patient soundtrack.

Princess diana sitting on the passarelle of a boat

A now famous image of Princess Diana on Jonikal ’s passarelle

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Nearby, a brigade of press boats captured a number of photos of Princess Diana on the yacht, formally immortalizing the vessel. Most famously, Princess Diana was captured sitting alone on the vessel’s passerelle in a now iconic image. According to Boat International , the yacht most recently sold in 2023.

As Robb Report describes it, Cujo, a 65-foot military-style superyacht was once the most famous in the world thanks to her high-profile passengers. In 1997, Fayed reportedly used this smaller vessel to woo the princess.

Lady Diana Princess of Wales with her sons Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales on holiday in...

Princess Diana and Prince William on Dodi Fayed’s yacht

The impressive yacht was originally launched in 1972, commissioned by its first owner John von Neumann. According to Robb Report, Von Neumann hired Italian shipyard Baglietto to build him a boat that was “faster than any other motoryacht on the water.” During its maiden voyage, Cujo had largely achieved this goal thanks to its twin 54-liter V-18 turbo diesel engines, which provided 2,700 horsepower and allowed it to easily hit 46 miles per hour. Von Neumann eventually sold the boat to arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who later passed the boat to Dodi Fayed, his nephew.

Cujo was already halfway underwater when rescuers arrived.

Cujo was already halfway underwater when rescuers arrived.

The boat sank quickly after the distress call was made.

The boat sank quickly after the distress call was made.

However, the boat’s story came to a dramatic end last summer, when it sunk off the coast of France, as reported by The Independent . According to a Facebook post from the Gendarmerie des Alpes-Maritimes, a division of the French military, passengers issued a distress call at around 12:30 local time on July 29, 2023. A little under an hour later, a rescue boat arrived, finding the vessel’s bow already partially submerged. “The cabins of the yacht were already flooded, and only a few suitcases located in the kitchen and on the deck could be retrieved by the gendarmes,” reads the statement. The seven passengers who were on board had already evacuated and were safely on a nearby lifeboat. Rescuers and passengers then quickly left the area, as the boat sank 2,500 feet to the ocean’s floor. The cause of the accident was not shared; however, according to Boat International , sources claimed that the ship hit an unknown object floating near the center of the hull.

photo of a boat sinking into the ocean

At one point, the vessel was among the fastest in the world.

Though Princess Diana was among the most notable guests onboard, other high-profile passengers hosted by Fayed included Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Bruce Willis, and Brooke Shields. Following the passing of Di and Fayed, Cujo fell into disrepair and decommissioned in 1999. After many years in storage, Fayed’s cousin Moody Al-Fayed purchased the vessel and brought it back to life. He later sold the boat to Simon Kidston, a British car collector and restorer and the last-reported owner of the vessel.

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'The Crown' season 6 recreates famous photographs of Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, and King Charles. Here is how they compare to the real photos.

  • "The Crown" season six recreates the first public photos of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed kissing.
  • It also recreates snaps from King Charles' photo shoot with his sons, Princes William and Harry.
  • Here is how the drama's recreations compare to the real photos.

Insider Today

"The Crown" is back for a sixth and final season.

The first four episodes focus on the final months of Princess Diana's life as she begins dating Dodi Fayed, with whom she died in a tragic car crash in Paris in August 1997.

The second episode of season six, "Two Photographs," contrasts two key moments that took place in the summer of 1997.

The first is the media frenzy that ensued when the UK's Sunday Mirror newspaper published the first photos of Diana and Dodi kissing on a yacht in Sardinia.

The second is a photo shoot depicting Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry , having a much more subdued vacation at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Here's how "The Crown" depicts the moments — and what they looked like in real life.

On August 10, 1997, the UK's Sunday Mirror published the very first photograph of Diana and Dodi kissing on its front page. The headline? "The Kiss."

foto diana dodi yacht

The photographs of Diana and Dodi were taken by Italian photographer Mario Brenna.

The Sunday Mirror published a 10-page spread of Brenna's photos, which it called "the most sensational pictures ever."

Under the headline was the text: "Now Dodi flies off to buy an engagement ring for Diana."

foto diana dodi yacht

Here's how the front page was faithfully recreated in "The Crown."

foto diana dodi yacht

In the show, a teenage Prince William (Rufus Kampa) is shown covertly reading the newspaper in his room, which causes him to grow concerned about his mother's relationship with Dodi.

Viewers also see the moment Diana and Dodi share the kiss, not realizing that a photographer is nearby.

foto diana dodi yacht

After the explosive Diana photos were published, King Charles took part in a photo shoot with Princes William and Harry at Balmoral on August 12, 1997.

foto diana dodi yacht

In "The Crown," the photo shoot is depicted as a response to the photos of Diana and Dodi in an effort to show Charles in a more sympathetic light to the British public.

Here's how the photo shoot is recreated in the show.

foto diana dodi yacht

In "The Crown," Charles' aides hire the mild-mannered Scottish photographer Duncan Muir to take the photos. However, it appears that the character was invented for the purposes of the series.

In truth, the photo shoot, which took place during the royals' annual vacation to Balmoral, was attended by a number of Fleet Street photographers, per The Telegraph .

Princes William and Harry did indeed skip stones across the water, as shown in "The Crown."

foto diana dodi yacht

And here they are with their pet dog.

foto diana dodi yacht

"The Crown" takes some creative license when it comes to depicting how British newspapers ran these photos.

foto diana dodi yacht

Charles' jaunt with his two sons is shown dominating the front pages of British newspapers — but this never happened.

foto diana dodi yacht

In the show, the photo of the princes appears on the front page of The Mirror the day after they're released as a "royal world picture exclusive."

In reality, the photos didn't make such a splash that day. Instead, a story about Diana took the prime spot.

"Di and Dodi fly to psychic Rita," the front page of The Mirror read on August 13, 1997.

The pictures of the princes were featured in the newspaper but on pages eight and nine , showing that the tame photoshoot was no match for the public's appetite for updates about Dodi and Diana's romance.

Likewise, The Daily Record didn't feature the photos on the front page. Its coverage also noted how "embarrassed" William and Harry looked.

foto diana dodi yacht

The Daily Record ran the photos on page five, instead choosing to dedicate the front page to a story that interested readers more: dustmen who had gone on strike to support a colleague accused of hitting a love rival with a wheelie bin.

The newspaper also commented on how William and Harry looked in the photos, with a subheading that read: "Young princes look embarrassed by dad's Harry Lauder image," per the British Newspaper Archive.

Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.

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Yacht used by Princess Diana and lover Dodi Fayed on final summer holiday sinks

Seven people on board were rescued following the accident off the coast of france, article bookmarked.

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The world-famous celebrity yacht used by Princess Diana on her final summer holiday in France has sunk to the bottom of the sea.

Cujo, once also a favourite of Hollywood superstars, disappeared below the Mediterranean waves after hitting an unidentified object off Beaulieu-sur-Mer, on the French Riviera, on Saturday.

Seven people on board were rescued following the accident, but the boat ended up at a depth of almost 2500m around 18 nautical miles off the coast.

“The skipper of the Cujo issued a Mayday,” said one officer. “His ship was sinking due to a leak.

“Rescue boats were sent from Antibes, and, after making sure everyone was safe, gendarmes detected a significant water leak at the level of the starboard front hull.

“Her owner had activated the pumps and kept the engines running, but this didn’t stop the boat sinking.”

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All of those on board, including the Cujo‘s Italian owner, were placed in a rescue boat, and taken back to shore uninjured.

Reports about Cujo - an Indian word that means ‘Unstoppable Force’ - dominated the media in August 1997, when it was owned by Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed.

The multi-millionaire film producer had spent some £1m refitting the boat, and wooed Diana on board, as the world’s media looked on.

This was shortly before the couple died in a car crash in central Paris caused by their drunk driver.

That summer, Diana was also photographed on Sokar, the yacht then owned by Al-Fayed’s father, retail billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed.

Cujo was built in Italy in 1972 for businessman John von Neumann after he told Italy’s Baglietto shipyard that he wanted the world’s fastest motor yacht.

She was fitted with two 18-cylinder engines that ensured she had a top speed of 42 knots.

Van Neumann then sold the boat to the son of Adnan Khashoggi, the world’s richest arms dealer, and he sold her on to his cousin, Dodi Al-Fayed.

Cujo was frequently moored off St Tropez, the most famous celebrity hotspot on the Riviera, with celebrity guests including Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis and Bruce Willis on board.

Following the death of Princess Diana and Mr Al-Fayed, Cujo fell into disrepair.

She was decommissioned in 1999, and spent years in storage, before being restored by new owners.

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Boat of the Week: Meet ‘Cujo,’ the 80-Foot Yacht Where Late Movie Producer Dodi Al-Fayed Once Wooed Princess Diana

The couple spent some of their final summer cruising around saint-tropez aboard this fast, military-looking yacht., howard walker, howard walker's most recent stories.

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Cujo is an 80 foot motoryacht that was owned by Dodi Al-Fayed and used by Princess Diana before their deaths in 1997.

For a few brief weeks back in the summer of 1997, Cujo was the most famous boat in the world.

Not because of her intimidating military lines, or blistering 40-knot performance. It’s because Diana, Princess of Wales, hung out aboard in Saint-Tropez with the boat’s owner, and romantic partner Dodi Al-Fayed.

Countless paparazzi shots show the once future Queen of England on Cujo‘s narrow sidedecks, soaking up the Mediterranean sun. By the end of August that year, both Diana and Dodi would be dead after that fatal car wreck in Paris.

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Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed

Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed spent some of their final summer cruising around Saint-Tropez aboard Cujo .  Courtesy Patrick Bar-Nice Matin/AP Images

Yet this rakish 80-footer was a headliner long before Diana stepped on board. Her first owner was Austrian Johnny Von Neumann, an entrepreneur, playboy and passionate sports-car racer who became the largest Porsche-VW distributor in the US.

In 1972, Von Neumann commissioned the Italian shipyard Baglietto to build him a boat with one goal: It had to go fast—faster than any other motoryacht on the water. To deliver, the shipyard installed twin 54-liter V-18 turbo diesels delivering a combined 2,700 horsepower.

Flat out, Cujo —said to be an ancient Indian word meaning “unstoppable force”—could easily top 40 knots, or 46 mph. Von Neumann blasted up and down the Cote d’Azur for a few years before ordering an even faster Baglietto—this time with jet turbine power. He sold Cujo to arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi who, at the time, was reckoned to be the richest man in the world.

Cujo is an 80 foot motoryacht that was owned by Dodi Al-Fayed and used by Princess Diana before their deaths in 1997.

The fast, military exterior gives way to an almost old-fashioned cockpit with wood cabinets and leather seats.  Courtesy Simon Kidston

Khashoggi eventually passed the boat on to his nephew Dodi Al-Fayed, who immediately sent her to the CARM shipyard in Lavagna, Italy, for a full refit.

Back in Saint-Tropez, and moored in her reserved spot on the town’s main quay outside the famed Le Sénéquier restaurant, Fayed would invite many of his Hollywood friends for a cruise. During the summers, everyone from Clint Eastwood, Tony Curtis, Bruce Willis and one-time girlfriend, Brooke Shields, were seen aboard.

Following Dodi and Diana’s death, Cujo quickly fell into disrepair. Decommissioned in 1999, she was hauled out at the CARM yard and spent several years in storage.

Cujo is an 80 foot motoryacht that was owned by Dodi Al-Fayed and used by Princess Diana before their deaths in 1997.

The main salon is smaller than many contemporary 80-foot motoryachts, but few other boats its size have the same 40-knots-plus top end.  Courtesy Simon Kidston

The boat was eventually rescued by Dodi’s cousin Moody Al-Fayed, who spent over $1 million bringing her back to life. Part of the work included uprating those massive diesels to deliver 1,650 hp each.

Now fast forward to February last year. After two summers of cruising Cujo around Sardinia and Italy’s Amalfi coast, Moody decided to sell. Strangely, he entered the boat in the Retromobile classic car auction in Paris.

That’s where well-known British car collector, buyer, seller and restorer Simon Kidston appeared. Kidston had spied Cujo in the Retromobile auction catalog, read that it was being sold by his old school-friend Fayed, and decided to bid.

Cujo is an 80 foot motoryacht that was owned by Dodi Al-Fayed and used by Princess Diana before their deaths in 1997.

The 1972 Baglietto has innovative features like the amidships helm and social area, and two sunbeds on the foredeck.  Courtesy Simon Kidston

“On the day of the auction, I was tied up with clients so asked a colleague to go down and take a look. I told him that if it was going cheaply, put in a bid for a bit of fun,” Kidston tells Robb Report .

“The bidding opened at just 150,000 Euros—that’s around $165,000. My colleague bid 160,000 Euros,” says Kidston. “Trouble was, no one else bid. The hammer went down and I had bought a boat. The feeling was a mix of excitement, tinged with terror.”

Unfortunately, just as Simon took delivery of Cujo at Lavagna, where she was moored, Europe was starting to lock down with the coronavirus pandemic.

Cujo is an 80 foot motoryacht that was owned by Dodi Al-Fayed and used by Princess Diana before their deaths in 1997.

The internal helm station is outfitted with modern electronics, but in a nod to its historic past, the wheel is definitely old school.  Courtesy Simon Kidston

But he did get to take her out during a video shoot in and around Portofino  for his YouTube channel Kidston Productions, where the boat meets up with Simon’s own ’70s Lamborghini Miura supercar. Entitled A Portofino Affair, the footage of Cujo at speed is breathtaking.

“She has immense presence,” said Kidston. “No boat of its size commands that kind of attention when she comes into a harbor.” Especially an Italian harbor when nervous local boat owners think she’s with the financial police.

“As you’d expect, those engines have tons and tons of performance,” Kidston adds. “We’ve seen 41 knots. But they have a very different sound than I was expecting; instead of a roar from the exhausts, there’s this amazing whistle from the turbos.”

Cujo is an 80 foot motoryacht that was owned by Dodi Al-Fayed and used by Princess Diana before their deaths in 1997.

The diesel engines were upgraded from the original 2,700 to 3,300 horsepower.  Courtesy Simon Kidston

While Kidston and his family had planned to cruise the Med this summer, the car enthusiast received an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“A young member of a prominent Italian business family—he’s 30 years old—had seen Cujo in Lavagna, fallen in love with her and asked if she was for sale,” he says. “He took delivery last week, just in time for his birthday.”

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The True Story Behind Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's "The Kiss" Pic

  • Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again later. More content below

T he Crown's sixth season delves into the PR "war" between Prince Charles and Princess Diana —specifically Charles' somewhat eye-roll inducing insecurity that Diana's spotlight overshadowed his own.

In the second episode of the season, titled "Two Photographs," we see Charles at Balmoral Castle when photos of "The Kiss" between Diana and Dodi Fayed drop—prompting him to hit back with some staged pics of himself, Prince William, and Prince Harry . But how true to reality was this battle of press pictures? Let's dig into the facts.

The True Story of "The Kiss"

Per a 2008 article in Vanity Fair , "The Kiss" (a paparazzi shot of Diana and Dodi kissing on vacation) was released in the Sunday Mirror on August 10, 1997. And the outlet paid a ton of money to publish this particular invasion of privacy. According to a fact check from The Telegraph , photographer Mario Brenna made £250,000 selling the pictures to The Mirror , not to mention $5 million selling the rights worldwide.

The Crown was pretty faithful in recreating the pics, even making a mock-up a copy of The Mirror for the episode:

But the show also implies that Dodi's dad tipped off Brenna, which The Telegraph says is less accurate. According to the outlet, "some have said" Brenna happened to be in Sardinia at the time the photos were taken and got lucky, while author Tina Brown speculates that Diana herself tipped him off.

The True Story of That Balmoral Photo-Opp

The Crown depicts Charles' Balmoral photoshoot as a direct response to "The Kiss," and honestly the timing is definitely side-eye inducing considering this shoot took place on August 12, 1997—just two days after The Mirror dropped its issue.

Here is the real photo of Charles, Wills, and Harry:

Versus what we saw on The Crown :

Meanwhile, the whole side-plot involving photographer Duncan Muir seems to be fictionalized, as the Telegraph reports these photos were actually taken by a group of press pool photographers. It's also unknown if they were a direct response to "The Kiss."

Anyway, now seems like a good time to mention that last season , The Crown started adding mentions of the show being fiction under its trailers, specifically using the language, "Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatization tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign."

Oh, and speaking of kisses...just gonna leave you with this:

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I dati forniti saranno utilizzati con strumenti informatici e telematici al solo fine di fornire il servizio richiesto e, per tale ragione, saranno conservati esclusivamente per il periodo in cui lo stesso sarà attivo.

Non è adottato alcun processo decisionale automatizzato, come ad esempio la profilazione.

Destinatari dei dati

I server ove vengono conservati i dati si trovano in Italia ed i dati non saranno soggetti a diffusione o a trasferimento verso Paesi extra-UE o organizzazioni internazionali, ma potranno essere comunicati a soggetti che assistono il Titolare, ad esempio per esigenze di manutenzione tecnologica del sito.

Diritti dell’interessato

In ogni momento, l’interessato potrà esercitare, ai sensi degli articoli dal 15 al 22 del Regolamento UE n. 2016/679, il diritto di:

  • chiedere la conferma dell’esistenza o meno dei propri dati personali e l’accesso agli stessi;
  • ottenere le indicazioni circa le finalità del trattamento, le categorie dei dati personali, i destinatari o le categorie di destinatari a cui i dati personali sono stati o saranno comunicati e, quando possibile, il periodo di conservazione;
  • chiedere al titolare la rettifica o la cancellazione dei dati trattati, la limitazione del trattamento dei dati che lo riguardano o la portabilità degli stessi;
  • opporsi al trattamento in qualsiasi momento ed anche nel caso di trattamento per finalità di marketing diretto;
  • revocare il consenso in qualsiasi momento senza pregiudicare la liceità del trattamento basata sul consenso prestato prima della revoca;
  • proporre reclamo a un’autorità di controllo, che in Italia è l’Autorità Garante per la protezione dei dati personali (all’indirizzo email [email protected] , al numero di fax 06.696773785 o a mezzo posta all’indirizzo piazza di Monte Citorio n. 121 – 00186 Roma).

Può esercitare i Suoi diritti con contattando il Titolare all’indirizzo postale sopra indicato oppure utilizzando l’indirizzo e-mail [email protected] .

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IMAGES

  1. Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed leave hotel on night they died

    foto diana dodi yacht

  2. Princess Diana And Dodi Fayed

    foto diana dodi yacht

  3. The Crown: Who are Mohamed and Dodi al-Fayed?

    foto diana dodi yacht

  4. Stunning 239-Foot Titania to Star as Princess Diana and Dodi’s Yacht in

    foto diana dodi yacht

  5. Princess Diana was photographed with her beau, Dodi Fayed, on his

    foto diana dodi yacht

  6. Inside The Yacht Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed Toured the Mediterranean On

    foto diana dodi yacht

COMMENTS

  1. See Photos of Princess Diana on Mohamed Al Fayed's Yacht in Saint

    Here, some of the most memorable photos of Princess Diana with her sons and the Fayeds on the Jonikal in July 1997. 1. Pool RAT/REY // Getty Images. Princess Diana on board the Jonikal yacht ...

  2. The true story behind Princess Diana's iconic yacht photo

    It's ultimately unknown which photographer grabbed the photo of Diana on the side of the yacht, which was published on 24 August, a week before Diana died. The snap saw the Princess in her teal ...

  3. Inside the Yacht Princess Diana Vacationed on With Dodi Fayed

    In May, Robb Report reported that Bash is available for charter in the Mediterranean starting at $278,000 per week, plus expenses. In June, Haidar listed Bash for $16.8 million, according to Boat International. There was a second motor yacht named Cujo, which Diana and Fayed also took earlier that summer. It was built in Italy in 1972 for John ...

  4. Princess Diana's Yacht Saga: Revisiting the Boats She ...

    I n the summer of 1997, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana's yacht adventures were the infatuation of the tabloids, paparazzi, and public like no other. The pair were captured sailing around the ...

  5. True Story Behind the Iconic Yacht Photo in 'The Crown'

    Taken on Aug. 24th, 1997, the photo shows Diana sitting alone on the edge of a diving board in a turquoise one-piece swimsuit, on board a luxury yacht called the Jonikal. The Crown's Season 6 ...

  6. Diana's last day: Dodi's yacht, a Ritz suite, a diamond ring and

    The last day of Princess Diana's life began on the top deck of her lover's yacht, with croissants and fresh jams. Diana and her beau, Dodi Al Fayed, sipped their coffee marveling at the ...

  7. The True Story Behind 'The Crown's Infamous Kiss Photograph

    Mario Brenna's photograph of Diana and Dodi Fayed sharing an intimate moment on a yacht sparked a frenzy in the press and fueled a relentless pursuit for their pictures. The paparazzi's obsession ...

  8. 174 Princess Diana Yacht Stock Photos & High-Res Pictures

    Browse 174 princess diana yacht photos and images available, or start a new search to explore more photos and images. Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, sitting on the diving board of Mohammed Al Fayed's private yacht "Jonikal" as a seagull flies overhead.

  9. See Inside the Superyacht Princess Diana Shared With Dodi Fayed

    Since her untimely death in August of 1997, Princess Diana's last summer spent with Dodi Al-Fayed has been described in various ways: a passionate love affair, a fake publicity stunt, a ...

  10. Inside The Yacht Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed Toured the

    Then named the Jonikal (it has subsequently been called the Sokar, and the Bash), the yacht was owned by Dodi's father, former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, when Diana traveled on it. Following ...

  11. Diana and Dodi Scene in 'The Crown' Is Inaccurate, Mario Brenna Says

    Mario Brenna's photograph of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed on a yacht in the Mediterranean Sea plays a prominent role in Season 6 of "The Crown.". Mario Brenna. It's summer 1997, and ...

  12. Princess Diana Boat Scenes In 'The Crown' Vs. Real Life Photos

    At the time, Princess Diana was newly dating Dodi Fayed, son of Harrod's owner Mohamed Al-Fayed and famously spent time on Al-Fayed's yacht in the south of France that summer with 12-year-old ...

  13. The Luxurious Yacht for Lady Diana's Last Vacation

    The yacht was last purchased in June 2021 for the sum of $10,000,000 and appears to be for sale once more, although the current price hasn't been disclosed. In the summer of 1997, photos of Diana and Dodi on holiday traveled around the world, sparking controversy back at Buckingham Palace. We take a closer look at the unforgettable yacht ...

  14. The Crown: The Sad, Strange Details of Princess Diana's Last Vacation

    November 16, 2023. From API/Gamma Rapho/Getty Images. Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed are lounging on the sundeck of a reportedly £15 million yacht in The Crown 's season six episode "Two ...

  15. Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's Former Yacht Sinks Off the Coast of

    Before their untimely deaths in the late summer of 1997, Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed spent a few brief paparazzi-festered weeks aboard Cujo, a 65-foot, military-style superyacht. As Robb Report ...

  16. 'the Crown' Season 6: Diana and Dodi Kiss Photos Versus Real Photos

    "The Crown" is back for a sixth and final season. The first four episodes focus on the final months of Princess Diana's life as she begins dating Dodi Fayed, with whom she died in a tragic car ...

  17. Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's iconic love boat is now at the bottom

    The yacht where Princess Diana spent part of her last summer with Dodi Fayed has sunk to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The boat, named Cujo, sank on July 29 after colliding with an ...

  18. Yacht used by Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed on final summer holiday

    Yacht used by Princess Diana and lover Dodi Fayed on holiday sinks Reports about Cujo dominated the media in August 1997, when it was owned by Diana's boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed PA

  19. 1,350 Princess Diana With Dodi Photos & High-Res Pictures

    Diana, Princess Of Wales and youngest son HRH Prince Harry are seen in St Tropez in the summer of 1997, shortly before Diana and boyfriend Dodi were... United Kingdom: A permanent memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi al-Fayed is pictured in the Harrods store in London, 31 August 2006, on the...

  20. Meet 'Cujo,' the 80-Ft. Yacht Dodi Al-Fayed Used to Woo Princess Diana

    By Howard Walker. Courtesy Simon Kidston. For a few brief weeks back in the summer of 1997, Cujo was the most famous boat in the world. Not because of her intimidating military lines, or ...

  21. The True Story Behind Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's "The Kiss ...

    Per a 2008 article in Vanity Fair, "The Kiss" (a paparazzi shot of Diana and Dodi kissing on vacation) was released in the Sunday Mirror on August 10, 1997. And the outlet paid a ton of money to ...

  22. 720 Princess Diana Dodi Photos

    Trauer um Prinzessin Diana. of 12. Browse Getty Images' premium collection of high-quality, authentic Princess Diana Dodi Photos stock photos, royalty-free images, and pictures. Princess Diana Dodi Photos stock photos are available in a variety of sizes and formats to fit your needs.

  23. "Sokar", il mega yacht di Lady D, in rada tra Pietra e Loano, FOTO

    Il mega yacht è conosciuto come l'ultimo rifugio d'amore di Lady Diana e Dodi Al-Fayed, prima della prematura morte della principessa più amata dal popolo. Lo yacht, che è gestito dalla società Burgess Yachts, con sede a Londra, e oggi può essere preso in affitto da fortunati vacanzieri, in grado di sborsare una cifra a dir poco ...