On the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, both her sons have attacked the paparazzi’s treatment of their late mother.

Prince Harry has criticised photographers for taking pictures instead of helping Diana as she died in a car in a Paris tunnel in 1997.

His elder brother, the Duke of Cambridge, also recently spoke of how his mother had to endure being spat at by paparazzi during her life, with Diana brought to tears by photographers’ treatment of her.

A 2008 inquest found the reckless driving of paparazzi trailing the Mercedes in which Diana was travelling through the French capital contributed to the vehicle’s fatal collision with a pillar.

Writer and royal photographer Ian Lloyd told Sky News how Diana suffered very much at the hands of the paparazzi, particularly in the last two years of her life.

There was constant press interest but in the last two years it really had spiralled out of control, he said.

But now, two decades on since Diana’s death, are the paparazzi still as notorious as they once were, especially in their treatment of the Royal Family?

:: Everything we know about the death of Diana

Terry Kirby, who worked on national newspapers for 20 years before becoming senior lecturer and director of the school of journalism at Goldsmiths University, described how the British media are constantly being warned about the treatment of royals.

In August 2015, Kensington Palace issued a furious warning to media organisations around the world over the increasingly extreme lengths paparazzi were employing to photograph number one target Prince George.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also reminded publishers and photographers they would not hesitate to take legal action to protect their children’s privacy.

There’s a slight wariness amongst the ‘mainstream media’ in this country because they’ve been warned off so many times, Mr Kirby said.

They still have a consciousness of what happened to Diana, even if they didn’t actually experience it at the time, so it’s in the collective journalistic consciousness.

As well as the fate of Diana, Mr Kirby added the 2011/12 Leveson inquiry into press ethics, prompted by the phone-hacking scandal, had created a wariness that wasn’t there before.

There’s also a greater professionalism amongst the Palace and Royal Family press officers to issue those edicts to say ‘back off’ whenever necessary, together with the threat of legal action, he said.

It didn’t really happen during Diana’s time. There was this stoic ‘we’ve got to put up with it’ attitude.

He described how a new generation of royals had now taken prominence and established new rules with the media, while they are also much more on the case when it comes to dealing with any breaches of privacy.

The Duke of Cambridge has demanded £1.3m compensation over the publication of images of his wife Kate sunbathing topless by French magazine Closer.

Kensington Palace has also regularly released photos – sometimes taken by the Duchess of Cambridge herself – of Prince George, age four, and Princess Charlotte, two, for the media’s use.

The younger royals’ social media accounts also offer regular updates on the activities of Princes William, Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.

They’ve become much more switched on in knowing they’ve got to release those images at certain points and give the media those stock images they can use time and again, Mr Kirby said.

The careful release of images just about satisfies the cravings.

But Mr Kirby warned despite the deference of the British media towards the Royal Family’s requests, there is quite a big distinction between newspapers’ staff photographers and ruthless freelancers who don’t have any particular obligations, which creates an industry grey area.

There’s definitely been appeals not to use certain images taken by European paparazzi of George and Charlotte, he said, adding: Obviously those freelancers will look to sell to the mainstream UK titles.

That’s where you get this temptation to take those pictures.

But Bénédicte Paviot, a former BBC reporter who is now UK correspondent for France 24, suggested photographers outside Britain had also altered their behaviour in the 20 years since Diana’s death.

She highlighted how scooter-mounted paparazzi had been warned off getting too close to Emmanuel Macron on the night of his victory in this year’s French presidential election, in contrast to how they tailed the car of former president Jacques Chirac following his own election win.

Yet, despite the apparent current cooperation between the Royal Family and Fleet Street, Mr Kirby offered a warning it will only take some particularly great set of pictures … for all those customs and practices to be swept aside.

He noted how, following Diana’s death, a lot of British newspapers vowed never to publish certain types of paparazzi pictures again, but – 20 years on – one beach paparazzi snap after another fills the websites of UK publications, as well as photographs of celebrities’ young children.

And the huge media interest in the Royal Family is every bit as much as it was in Diana’s day, Mr Kirby added.

You only have to see how many times Diana has been on the front of newspapers over the last few weeks.

They (the royals) are still going to trump Kim Kardashian every day of the week.

If you’ve got a great picture of Prince George looking grumpy on some foreign trip, they’re going to put that on the front every day of the week.

He added: As soon as George and Charlotte start going to senior schools and start dating and everything, which isn’t going to be that far away, it will become even more intense.

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(c) Sky News 2017: 20 years on from Diana – do paparazzi still harass the royals?

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