Mystery man in Princess Diana photo revealed
The mystery of 'Ski Bob' has been solved.
The previously unidentified figure lounging next to the future Princess Diana in a never-before-published photo has now been pegged as Adam Russell, a might-have-been suitor to Lady Diana Spencer's charms.
His identity was revealed by Diana's biographer Andrew Morton a day after the 8x10 photo came to light as part of an auction of images purchased by the Caren Archive from the Daily Mirror newspaper in London about seven years ago.
The photo will go up for public bidding at RR Auction in New Hampshire this month and is expected to go well above the usual $1,000 for type of celebrity picture.
The photo was stamped at the newspaper on Feb. 26, 1981, two days after Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement (right). The actual picture was taken much earlier, sometime in 1979 during a ski holiday in the French Alps.
Diana would have been 17 and she is obviously quite at ease with Adam using her shoulder as a resting place for his book.
Morton said they got to know each other well when they both had skiing injuries.
It turns out that Russell is the great grandson of for British prime minister Stanley Baldwin. He reportedly had his eye on developing his relationship with Diana beyond the 'smitten' stage. According to Morton, Russell went away for a year and on his return to Britain he told a friend he liked Diana. The friend retorted: "You've only got one rival, the Prince of Wales."
At that point, he backed away from the challenge, though he remained friends with her. Today, Russell is married and a deer farmer in Dorset.
The photo immediately drew much attention for what was scrawled across it. Why is the photo clearly marked in grease pencil "Not to be published"? Could it be that the paper was gun-shy about publishing a photo of a young Diana cuddled up with another man on a bed?
One editor from the early 1980s, Mike Molloy, told the Guardian that the reason the picture wasn't published was probably because the Sunday Mirror's editor, Bob Edwards, had been subjected to a lot of heat from the Palace for publishing an earlier story about a secret romantic rendezvous between Charles and Diana on the royal train.
"This would certainly not be the way the Royal Family would have wanted Diana to be presented at that moment, given that two days before her engagement had been announced," Eric Caren, owner of the Caren Archive, told the Daily Mail. "The fairytale between her and Charles was still intact at that point."