Telescopic Sights of Un-Shy Di Set Off a Royal Tantrum

updated 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Just last month the Prince of Wales was starting to sound like a fan of the press. Praising a Pax Paparazzi that enabled him and Diana to enjoy a quiet Christmas holiday at Sandringham, Charles told a press luncheon: "I hope it goes on a little longer."

It didn't. As the next King of England might have known, there will always be a Fleet Street. When Charles and Di arrived for a vacation on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera two weeks ago, the press was in hot pursuit. A score of photographers staked out the island, hiding in brambles, crouching in holes they dug on the beaches, and skulking offshore in small boats. Two—from the London tabloids the Sun and the Star—got the shots they wanted. Almost instantly pictures of the pregnant princess in a bikini were flashed to newspapers around the world.

"Tasteless," raged a royally piqued Queen Elizabeth, and an expression of displeasure was introduced in the House of Commons. The British Press Council considered action, and the Sun, coyly contrite, published something of an apology, accompanied by a reprint of one of the offending photos.

The furor may have seemed a tempest in a teapot in London, but in the Bahamas it was deadly serious business. At least one Scotland Yard detective arrived on Eleuthera and, together with six local constables, swept through the island, arresting anybody who admitted to being a photographer. Within 24 hours after the Sun hit the stands, 16 cameramen representing organizations from UPI to the German Neue Blatt were sent packing. (Ironically, the two who took the offending photos were already gone.)

With that, Charles and Di went back to their vacation routine in peace, breakfasting at 10 in their five-bedroom villa, then taking to the beach. Occasionally Di drove their rented white Aspen down to the local market to satisfy cravings for strawberry ice cream, frozen pizzas, grapefruit and sausages. "Just like a local girl," said one clerk. "She won our hearts."

Due back in London last week, Charles and Di were prepared for the fact that their Royal Honeymoon with the press was over. London Star editor Lloyd Turner sounded positively gleeful over his photographic coup—and eager to repeat it. "The Royal Family are not made of marble," he warned. "We cannot pretend they do not exist. The Palace has dramatically overreacted."

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