Who is the mystery gent in this supposedly scandalous photograph of a teenage Diana Spencer, marked “not to be published”? He is not, as some thought, Diana’s brother Earl Spencer. Rather, the pensive young man has been identified as Adam Russell, believed to be a deer farmer in southern England.
The previously unseen photo, which will go up for auction in the U.S. later this month, shows a young Diana reclining on a cushion. Russell appears to be lying behind her while reading a magazine balanced on her shoulder. Russell, the great-grandson of former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, was a student at Oxford University at the time, reports ABC News.
(MORE: Why Princess Diana Mattered)
How did these two end up in such a cozy tableau together? According to royal biographer Andrew Morton, author of the book Diana, Her True Story — In Her Own Words, they were on a skiing holiday in the same town in the French Alps and bonded after both sustaining injuries that kept them off the slopes. Morton wrote that Russell “always liked Diana,” but a relationship never developed because “he never expressed his desire for her.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, Morton told ITV News that “at the end of the holiday, Adam was somewhat smitten but absolutely nothing happened.”
“He left unspoken the fact that he hoped the friendship between himself and Diana could be renewed and developed upon his return. When he arrived home a year later it was too late. A friend told him: ‘You’ve only got one rival — the Prince of Wales.”
After the holiday, which is thought to have taken place in 1979 or 1980, the two kept in touch while going their separate ways. Diana went on to wed Prince Charles in 1981 at age 20. The owner of the intimate photo, the British newspaper the Daily Mirror, declined to publish it. “The Daily Mirror just wasn’t going to publish this picture of her in a comfortable position with a man other than Prince Charles,” Bobby Livingston of RR Auction told the Sydney Telegraph. The photograph, currently in the private Caren Archive, is expected to sell for far above the typical price of $1,000 because of the “not to be published” marking, apparently made with a grease pencil by a Mirror picture editor.