LONDON, UK (CBS) - When Princess Diana was killed 15 years ago today, millions mourned her death and condemned the paparazzi who were following her that night. The tragedy led to new rules for the press that has changed the life for reporters and the royal family.
The golden gates outside Kensington Palace where Diana lived remain a focal point fifteen years on for anyone who wishes to pay tribute to the person they still call "The People's Princess."
Diana died in the wreck of a black Mercedes which crashed at high-speed in a Paris tunnel. Blame fell immediately on paparazzi, the photographers who'd been chasing the car jockeying for shots of the celebrity princess.
At her funeral, Diana's brother called her, '..the most hunted person of the modern age.'
Niraj Tanna is one of a new generation of paparazzi on the 'Royal Beat'. His job is to bag shots of Diana's son, Prince William, his wife Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and third in line to the throne Prince Harry. He says, "No-one's life's worth risking for a picture. Full stop."
In the end, the inquest into Diana's death blamed not the photographers, but the drunk driver of the car. Still, Tanna says the accident changed everything. He says, "We are in a better place now. I mean, we have guidelines which we have to abide by, we can't follow them, chase them, or run after them, or do any of that sort of stuff, so, in that sense it is a safer place for celebrities, royalty, or whoever concerned."
Photographers pursued Diana relentlessly, in public of course, but also at home, and on vacation, right up until the night she died.
But that tragedy, and its aftermath, marked a turning point as the Royal Family suddenly found its traditional stiff upper lip out of sync with a nation that had loved Diana's public image of humanity and compassion.
Mark Borkowski is a PR analyst and historian and he says, "The Royal Household woke up at the end of Diana and the period of mourning and grieving, a group of people got together and said 'Look things have got to change.' This whole idea of the cynicism of the royal family towards the media, I think gradually changed into look, we have got to work together."
But as the Royal Family came to grips with this approach, the newest celebrity member of the royal entourage revived old fears. In 2007 photographers swarmed Kate Middleton who at the time was not yet engaged to Prince William. It was déjà vu, Diana's ordeal all over again; an angry palace sent its lawyers on the press pack and the result was a new deal: photographers would get access to apparently candid moments. In return, they'd quit long-lens ambush snapping of royals who thought they were in private yet ended up in the headlines. On the whole, the deal has worked.
Borokowski says, "The last two years frankly have been sensationally good for the Royal Family and their PR effort. Harry in Afghanistan was a great story for them. I mean if we look at the royal wedding, if we think of that moment, not just the kiss on the balcony, but the Aston Martin, the open-top Aston Martin down the Mall, by giving controlled activities they're pushing further and further away the bounty hunters and paparazzi."
So far away, says Niraj Tanna, that royal coverage is now just royal spin. He says, "Well, it's all controlled and you just see William and Kate as lovely people who are doing, you know, the best things in the world by going to the Paralympics, the Olympics and all these things in the world. It's literally they control everything. We'll see a staged picture of Harry and of the Olympics, you'll never see the real Harry."
Well, actually we did just last week. Professional photographers may have backed off in the 15 years since Diana's death, but there's a new threat to royal privacy: cell phones. The fact is, we're all paparazzi now.
The technology's evolved, but one thing that has not changes at all in 15 years is the public's fascination with Britain's Royal Family.