For as much pressure as Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, and company still face from the tabloids, it’s a much easier time to be a royal than it was in the 1990s, when newly divorced Princess Diana and Prince Charles were the subjects of endless salacious headlines and scrutiny. Diana’s death while being pursued by the paparazzi in Paris was the tragic low point, but the press attention had bothered her for years—maybe especially in 1996, when pictures of her sunbathing topless in Spain made it to the front page of Britain’s Daily Mirror.
And Diana, it seems, wasn’t the only one upset by it. As Condé Nast Britain chairman Nicholas Coleridge recalls in his new memoir, The Glossy Years, Diana came to his Hanover Square office looking flustered after the photos were published. According to the Times, she told him she had received a call from then-14-year-old Prince William, who was a boarding student at Eton College. “‘He was upset,’” the publisher recalls Diana telling him in a particularly blunt passage. “‘He said some of the other boys were teasing him, saying my tits are too small.’”
After Diana’s death, and some shifting cultural norms about the privacy the famous can reasonably expect, tabloid intrusion on the lives of the royals calmed down a bit—though years later, William would face a remarkably similar situation when a French tabloid published photos of his wife, Kate, sunbathing topless in Provence. The newly married couple filed a lawsuit in 2012, and in 2017 was awarded €100,000 in damages by a French court. In a letter to the court, William called the publication of the photos “particularly shocking because it reminded us of the harassment that led to the death of my mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.”