«The Kiss»

By Christos Zambounis

The second episode of “The Crown’s” 6th season starts with the introduction of the Italian photographer Mario Brenna. If the creators of the television series had not been forced, under pressure, to add to the credits the information that it is fiction, unsuspecting viewers would have believed the imaginative version unfolding on the screen. The diary reads August 1, 1997. Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed are vacationing somewhere in the Mediterranean on the latter’s father’s yacht, ‘Jonikal’. The TV version has Mohamed al Fayed informing Brenna of the exact location of the boat. He patiently settles on top of a steep rock and waits, like a hunter for his prey. Hours pass, but “nada”, “nothing”. Until the couple gives him the biggest “gift” of his life. They kiss. Next comes the toughest auction in tabloid history. The winner is “Sunday Mirror”, which is released the following Sunday of the recording, with the laconic title “The Kiss”.

It is a headline that will change the lives of the two protagonists of the kiss, since 2,000 photographers from all over the world will rush to Sardinia, in the hope of a snapshot that will financially change theirs as well. £300,000 for one photo, it’s unprecedented. Twenty-six years later, in the only English-language interview granted by the Italian paparazzo to the “New York Times”, he reveals the truth. No, no one notified him. Yes, it was in Sardinia that summer, like every year, for vacation. No, he didn’t realize at first that it was Diana in Jonical. Yes, he knew whose boat it was and so he sat and waited. No, no one from Netflix has reached out to ask for their side. Yes, he was very upset when he heard about the tragic accident at Pont de l’Alma. No, he doesn’t consider himself a “hunter…killer”, as he is depicted in the series. “If it wasn’t me, someone else would have taken the picture,” he concludes, disclaiming any responsibility.

PS. The total royalties from the re-release of ‘The Kiss’ stand at £1.7m to date.