Princess Diana wasn’t beautiful, says photographer David Bailey

Photographer David Bailey would like the Queen to know he couldn’t care less about a knighthood, thank you very much. The 71-year-old Brit, famous for his decades-long career photographing many of the most beautiful women in the world, is claiming that he would never include the late Princess Diana on any “Most Beautiful” list.

Bailey said Diana is “a pleasant enough woman, but a great beauty she wasn’t”. The Queen might not have a problem with that, but Bailey also chimed in about Prince Charles, saying that The Prince of Wales “looks like a banjo player in Appalachia.” Yikes.

No wonder Patrick Dermarchelier was the late Diana, Princess of Wales’s favourite photographer. David Bailey, his old rival, had no respect.

Appearing on Brush with Fame on Sky Arts this week, Bailey is still unrepentant about saying Diana was not the most beautiful woman in the world.

“I mean she was a nice girl, she came to my studio a few times and she was a pleasant enough woman, but a great beauty she wasn’t,” says the 71-year-old snapper.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, he adds: “I remember when they used to use the word ‘handsome’ to describe Prince Charles, but God you got a stretched imagination – he looks like a banjo player in Appalachia. There goes my knighthood.”

From The Daily Telegraph

The Prince Charles comment I can understand – it’s rude, but I get it. But in my opinion, Princess Diana was one of the most luminous beauties of the twentieth century. The camera loved her, and though she didn’t have an average beauty, what she had was extremely striking, a kind of beauty I prefer in women and men. And at the very least, why bash someone who is dead?

Bailey worked for Vogue Magazine, and got famous in the 1960s photographing many of the personalities of that era. Jean Shrimpton, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull were all photographed by Bailey. He won a CBE in 2001 and he’s considered a living legend in his field. He was also married to Catherine Deneuve at one point. He may be moving into an era where he’s considered a bitter old fart, though. He sure is acting like one.

David Bailey is shown on 9/2/08. Credit: WENN. Photos of Diana are circa 1996 and 1997. Credit: UPI/Newscom

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57 Responses to “Princess Diana wasn’t beautiful, says photographer David Bailey”

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  1. Leandra says:

    I agree with the photographer. Diana was no great beauty, but still she was attractive in her own way, with a lovely, winning smile. What drew her down was her nose which even Diana said was her worst feature, badly shaped and leaning slightly to one side…(see full on photos).

  2. RAN says:

    I agree with the perspective that she may not have been the most beautiful woman in the world, but she was certainly one of the most stunning and original.

    The Prince Charles comment though… dead on.

  3. teehee says:

    Her beauty was on the inside. Although I think she was totally beautiful outside, too!
    So she wasnt what model photographers would expect, nope… but her inner beauty came out onto the outside…

  4. lynxie says:

    I’m sorry but what he said was quite mean about Princess Di. She was beautiful inside and out…can’t say the same for most of today’s so called ‘beauties’

    R.I.P Queen of Hearts…often copied but will never be replaced.

  5. bagladey says:

    I agree with David Bailey. When women say these things people inevitably think:”She’s jealous”, but I never considered Princess Diana to be a “beauty”, and I witnessed how fame made Diana suddenly “beautiful” in the eyes of the public. Constant,intense, expensive grooming made Diana glow, but that sort of treatment would have the same results on almost anything.

  6. Wif says:

    In response to the above posters, I’m sending you my love Kaiser. You don’t need to be perfect for me. Now I’m off to start my day and make 30 to 40 of my own mistakes. Lets hope I’m not so harshly judged.

  7. Wif says:

    Whoops, looks like the hatey comments were removed. Apologies to those who think I make no sense.

  8. Celebitchy says:

    Wif I fixed the typo and deleted the rude comments. We all make mistakes and Kaiser wrote a ton of stories today. If people want more articles to read they can be nicer about pointing out minor errors.

  9. Kevin says:

    If you compare Diana to the family that she married into, then of course she is much more beautiful than those inbred mutants. She certainly wasn’t ugly. If you compare her to these so called “super models” then I think she is right in their league due her statuesque frame. However, how many of those are really good looking? They are just clothes racks. Her beauty, to me, was much more inner than outer. Compare her to the woman that the Appalachian banjo player replaced her with,,,UGH!!!

  10. sweetzy says:

    Diana was so beautiful when she’s in her twenty, especially on her wedding..

  11. nanster says:

    I loved Diana. Although she wasn’t a true classic beauty, she did the most with what she had and the camera did love her, as someone else said. I think the things that she did for the good of humankind also made her beautiful. She was truly one of a kind and will be missed forever. Why bash the dead? doesn’t Mr. Bailey have something better to do with his time, or is it his feeble attempt to get himself noticed by the controversy his comments will cause?

  12. Granger says:

    I think she was lovely. But I think what set her apart most was her statuesque height and her thin figure, which she worked very hard to maintain (if you call subjecting your body to bulimia and obsessive exercise hard work). But I agree with bagladey that she probably wouldn’t have been such a beauty without the unbelievable amounts of time and money that she put into her appearance. Maybe she wouldn’t have been quite so sad either.

  13. Larissa says:

    Kevin said it all!

  14. MhjmC says:

    Beauty isn’t just on the outside and Princess Diana was very beautiful; she had her own flair.
    I’m not sure why he feels its necessary to bash the dead but he doesn’t seem to be much of a prize himself in or out.

  15. barneslr says:

    I think that she doesn’t fit the mold of a supermodel, which is, unfortunately, the standard that some people measure beauty by. I think that is ridiculous…is he trying to say some anorexic, heroin-chic supermodel was more beautiful than Diana? He needsd new eyeglasses if he does.

    What Diana was, was a woman who learned quickly how to maximize what she had going for her and how to minimize her less flattering features. Is that not what most of us try to do? We wear clothes that flatter our particular figures, we wear makeup to accentuate the positive, etc.

    She was quite beautiful. She just didn’t look like a supermodel, which is not IMHO the standard of beauty we should all aspire to.

    Right on about Chuckie, though. Except it is an insult to appalachians.

  16. PJ says:

    Diana was very lovely but I think the photographer was comparing her to someone like Catherine Deneuve, who is really in a league of her own.

    I loved Diana’s beautiful blue eyes, her English rose complexion, thick healthy hair, and her nose. It’s a real nose and has tons of character. Today’s noses are cookie-cutter, straight from the plastic surgeon’s. They are so tiny, I don’t know how women breathe through them. And the trout-pout lips are gross.

  17. Alias says:

    Diana had charisma and a subtle sex appeal. She was not a classic beauty, but worked with what she had – gorgeous eyes, an “interesting” and expressive face, a lovely statuesque figure and an inherent sense of style. Package that with her ability to “touch” people and communicate that charisma, she was indeed beautiful.

  18. Wow says:

    She was attractive, but the press is what made it seem like the whole world considered her the most beautiful person alive. If an average looking person had all day to pamper themselves, the money to back it up and the media kissing your bum, then they would be considered a great beauty too if it kept being reported that we are suppose to feel that way.

    I agree with this guy, but then again beauty is subjective. There are a few celebrities who I consider very talented, but I don’t see them as gorgeous or stunning as the media would have me believe.

    And seriously was there truly a time when Prince Charles was called handsome? If so, then that is a perfect example of money talking.

  19. KateNonymous says:

    I don’t think she was as beautiful as the press would have had us believe. She was certainly very elegant, but without all of the resources she had at her disposal, she would have been an average, pretty girl and an attractive woman.

  20. Baholicious says:

    She was extremely photogenic and one needn’t be a great beauty for that to be the case.

  21. sissoucat says:

    Yeah, well it’s refreshing to see that some people do have eyes – she was a bit less than average looking person ; she had her youth, and all that makeup and the fact that she was a princess. That only made people label her “beautiful” (same as her husband, a truly ugly guy).

    Not to say anything bad about her and her charisma. On the contrary, it should be stressed for women everywhere that Diana had no beauty, but she still was a very much admired woman because what she had inside glowed outside.

    Even less-than-average looking women have a chance in life.

  22. Trillion says:

    Well, she sure improved the aesthetics of the royal gene pool with her offspring.

  23. guest says:

    David Bailey is absolutely right. Diana was lovely and photogenic and I’m was a great fan of hers but if I were to list the 10 great beauties, she wouldn’t be on it.

  24. Holly says:

    Guest expressed it best. She had lovely features of her own, not necessarily beautiful though. Seems stupid to nitpick after the fact though. Or at all.

  25. FF says:

    Well, he’s entitled to his opinion but I don’t know that they’ll be many people who agree with him.

    Most people don’t split hairs between what’s photogenic and what’s considered beautiful they just tend to lump it all into the same ‘visally appealing’ pile and call it the same thing.

  26. Lili says:

    I remember chatting about Diana with a teenage girl sometime in the 80′s and hearing her say, “I just don’t understand why people think she’s beautiful.” I hadn’t thought seriously about the issue before, but I realized that I agreed. Diana’s greatest assets were her height and long legs, which allowed her to wear clothes very well. Otherwise, she was a nice-looking woman whose appearance was vastly improved by expensive hairstyling and other forms of grooming.

    There’s a long history of attributing beauty to royals when it isn’t actually present. The sheer aura of wealth and high-status can gild one’s looks.

  27. daisy424 says:

    I agree that she was photogenic, she shined in photos, especially after her divorce.
    It appeared to me that her personal fashion sense was starting to emerge with the break from the stuffy restrictions of being the Princess of Wales.
    I will always think of Diana as a beautiful woman, inside and out.

  28. Lily says:

    Oh for crying out loud…what is he talking about…such rubbish!
    Diana was BEAUTIFUL in every way imaginable…her photographs prove it. She made the photographers look good.

  29. chartreuseoak says:

    Diana was pretty in a girl next door kind of way and she was certainly photogenic but no great beauty. I don’t particularly remember the Demarchlier photos but I remember the Mario Testino ones which I thought made her look very radiant and beautiful, but then he makes all his subjects look like that.

    I also completely agree with his comment on Prince Charles. Not a great looking guy even in his young years.

    I think the word beautiful is over applied to most famous people.

  30. Prissa says:

    Trillion – I totally agree with you!

  31. Sakota says:

    Diana was a patrician person from a patrician background. She had certain great features, but she had endless resources at her disposal and didn’t have to look after her kids personally, she had help in everything.

  32. Kylie says:

    I only read the first little bit and that was enough.
    What a jerk.
    Di was beautiful, inside and out.
    He should just keep his UGLY mouth shut.

  33. Samantha says:

    I do think that Princess Dianna was one of the world’s most beautiful women. Maybe not in the conventional sense, however her style and elegance exuded from her even in pictures. All that met her were mesmerized. In my life, I haven’t seen such global sadness since or before the day that she died.

  34. Samantha says:

    Another observation, he’s not breath taking himself.

  35. Lili says:

    Bailey may not be handsome himself, but that’s beside the point. He has spent years photographing truly beautiful people, he’s in a good position to make some judgements. I’m an art historian who doesn’t paint, but my long training has taught me to tell a great painting from one that’s merely so-so.

    As for Diana, I wasn’t a fan. I think her saintliness and wonderfulness have been vastly overrated, and it’s hard for me to admire someone so poorly educated.

  36. Anoneemouse says:

    If he thought Diana was “not beautiful” I’d love to hear what he thinks about Camilla Parker-Bow-wow.

  37. buenavissta says:

    Kaiser, keep up the awesome work.

  38. Judy says:

    Di may have not been drop dead beautiful but she had beauty from the inside out. SHe had a beautiful smile and always dressed classy and she was pretty. You dont have to have a beautiful face to be a beautiful person and that is what she was and that is what counts. Her charmless husband looks like the rear end of a donkey.

  39. kaligula says:

    she was a great beauty, a classic beauty, a timeless beauty, and a soulful, incomparably tragic, elegant beauty. this guy is delusionally bitter and crotchety and is getting some kind of sick revenge from making these over the top slanderous comments.

  40. Misa says:

    Personally, i think that beauty cannot be measured.

  41. Gwyneth says:

    David Bailey ought to look in the mirror before he bashes anyone’s looks. The bags under his eyes would tax the cargo hold of a 747!

  42. RonJone says:

    People are stupid. Look at Diana before she got married to to Charles, She was 20 and the in the prime of her life. She was sophisticated and high class but at best AVERAGE LOOKING. They married her bc of her family’s name. With the right technology, you can make anybody look good.

  43. LAS says:

    Just look at that old man, he looks miserable. Diana was beautiful. And it’s not just the clothes, even in jeans she was stunning…her figure, her hair, her skin, her smile. If Diana wasn’t beautiful, then why can’t we take our eyes off her? These trollops the media would have us to believe are ‘beautiful’, the Beyonce’s and the Jennifer Lopez’s of the world – are not fit to wipe Diana’s *&^% with a silk hankerchief.

  44. flame says:

    She had a really beautiful complexion & lovely eyes. But her mouth was really too thin & her nose was just awful. Her bone structure wasn’t bad either but not the most delicate by any means.

    Her greatest asset really was her figure – it’s sad she had to go through bulimia to get it that way though.

  45. Ann says:

    For me,she one of the most beautiful woman in the world(together with gisele bundchen)her features are perfect,i love her nose,eyes,smile,everything
    she is the most beautiful royal,more then kate middletown
    I wish i could be pretty as she was

  46. Emma says:

    My mother met Diana in Toronto once. (Well, shook hands with Diana…) My mother had never thought that Diana was particularly attractive, but when she saw her in person, she says that she had never met anyone who was so beautiful. She says she radiated beauty and made people melt.
    On a seperate note, Diana hated the way she looked. Well, she hated herself in every way, she says. She cut herself and tried to kill herself, and she was bulimic.

  47. Lady G says:

    David Bailey’s candor and lack of butt-kissing is refreshing. Diana’s best attributes physically were her height and leg length. Her face was average and the nose job she had in later years was a disaster. They flattened the nose bridge and she looked like an ex-boxer. I always hated her hair, hated it. Too short and it aged her. Her eyes were lovely as was her smile, but she was not a beauty in the classical sense. She was also aging rapidly.

    Bailey’s best photographic subject was Jean Shrimpton.
    As for Jean, she is saying she’s never had plastic surgery. RUBBISH. I have researched photos of Jean, saw her original nose, and she had a nose job to produce that ski sloped pug. Also lip work. Eye color blue? Hmmmmm. Saw it as brown in many photos. They could manipulate photos very well even in the sixties.

    Also, in the last decade Jean had a very aggressive brow-forehead lift and her cheeks were filled in. The most recent photo of Jean shows her as a sad and lonely looking woman sitting on a bench. Her eyebags, always a problem from her youth, are as bad as David Bailey’s.
    Guess the surgeons can only do so much, the eye baggage keeps coming back. The cheek filler also deflated. Hereditary issues.

  48. Jess:) says:

    Diana is BEAUTIFUL inside AND out. period.

  49. Janette says:

    Must agree with Lady G. Diana’s legs were her best feature. Her nose was a honker and she had a bad nose job in the last few years before her death….with all that money and the best surgeons in the world, you gotta wonder. I don’t idol worship people so I don’t care who I offend in this post. She was human, not a goddess, and died like everyone else will. People need to get over this people-worship nonsense. Now Jean Shrimpton was Bailey’s ‘baby’; he made her famous and she made him rich.
    Even Jean, who I personally think beats out everyone anywhere in looks (when young) wasn’t perfect. She had eye bag issues, her teeth were not pretty and her nose is FAKE. It is a nose job! That nose was popular in the sixties and my sister had the same nose job circa 1963…the so-called retrousse ski jump turned up nose job. My sister’s nose was an ethnic honker and it turned out just like Jean’s. Jean’s sister Chrissie who dated Mick Jagger, well, her nose was not jobbed and is a honker, so sorry Shrimp, you’re not being truthful when you say you never had plastic surgery. Many of Shrimp’s photos were airbrushed heavily, this was before photoshop.

    Anyway, Diana got to sleep with JFK Jr one time and dumped him even though he was calling her. If he wasn’t good enough for her, she was a head case. Sorry!

  50. Alessandro says:

    Diana could have easily been a supermodel. Too bad her nose job was a failure but if it had been done right she’d have been able to be a top model. Just a little fat graft to the lips and she’s as beautiful as any model. Her hair was not cool. If she’d grown it out it would have really made a big difference. My fave photo of her is on Dodi’s yacht, sitting in a one piece bathing suit on the gangplank. Those legs alone, wow. BTW Bailey never would say Shrimpton was as beautiful off camera as on camera, he just said she had a magical face which means very photogenic. Also just because she didn’t fall for JFK Jr doesn’t mean she was nuts. Just maybe no chemistry.

  51. Lalla says:

    I think Lady Diana is very beautiful. This man you wrote this is wrong. She is a perfect beauty to me.

  52. Amy says:

    By middle American standards, she was beautiful, if flawed. By the nasty fashion world standards, since she didn’t have a figure like a 21 year old skinny boy, she was merely ok.

  53. Renee says:

    Diana, Princess of Wales NEVER had a nose job – failed or successful. If you look at her early photos and compare them to those taken just before she died you will see this. Diana may not have been the most classically beautiful woman in the world but no other woman ever outdid her freshness, her style and of course her charisma.

  54. ben says:

    lol sorry he can say what he wants but for me someone that say princess diana was ugly is gay. Not long ago I’ve heard people say marilyn monroe an ugly old fat WTF! I would kill to get with a lady like these two icons and kate is beautiful but not as much as Diana why? Diana had great blue eyes, short blond hair and hot legs and was as beautiful on the outside then inside so WTF is this guy saying! He simply says that to make us talk and it’s working! I personally think this guy is just jealous that Diana didn’t chose him to photograph her lol Any man that says she ugly is a fuckin idiot just like Prince Charles and oh, I agree with him on what Charles is haha!

  55. Jerfan says:

    Gay can’t say that princes di is beautiful.But we know she is hot.Yes she has a decent look like princes from storybook! She is not a street beauty.Her beauty is like poem.We love her.

  56. Stellar says:

    Let’s set the record straight. Diana had a nose job. Compare the bridge of her nose in early photos to the bridge of her nose in the last five years or so of her life. The surgeon removed the hump but left a flat look that made her look worse. Her teeth, sad to say, were either implants or caps. I have a book with early photos and dental work was done. This is standard with celebrities. Diana was a celebrity, constantly photographed. She did NOT SMILE much until after the dental work! I don’t care if you want to remain delusional. Marilyn Monroe had plenty of work done.They all get work done and deny it even when comparing older photos shows them with a big fat nose, smaller breasts, or whatever. Celebrities are big liars!

  57. sonia says:

    right…has Bailey looked at his face in the mirror? what is the next thing he’s going to say? ”Camel face parker bowles is pretty”? LOL…Diana was a great beauty to me, inside and out:she was a package,her looks would have meant nothing if she didn’t have this beautiful soul…but sorry she was beautiful, she was no ”plain looking, rather attractive,average looking” she was a STUNNER…It was said even, whoever disagrees only dislikes her…she wasn’t perfect that made her even more beautiful, of course she had her years, she wasn’t as beautiful in her younger years as she became afterwards….ah why am I even wasting my time explaining, leave Diana alone, it’s enough to understand to see the face of anyone who would criticize Diana’s looks