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Tatler tells the 'forgotten story' behind Bryan Organ's portrait of Princess Diana

June 1, 2021

A recent article in Tatler tells the 'forgotten story' of when Bryan Organ's inaugural royal portrait of Princess Diana came under attack by an anti-Monarchist.


The teenage protestor lunged with a knife at the painting, and a shocked witness describes how the 'whole middle of the picture was ripped out'. Fortunately, the large horizontal and vertical slashes across the painting were fully repaired after exhaustive, year-long restoration work.


The painting had earlier drawn record crowds, with over 100,000 people flocking to see the painting within the first three days of its grand unveiling. It was shown alongside Organ's portrait of Prince Charles, three days before the Royal Wedding on 29 July 1981. After it was attacked, the National Portrait Gallery made the unprecedented decision to remove the portrait, as well as the portrait of Prince Charles, from public display.


In the Tatler article, Maya McDonald describes how Organ "immortalised the now quintessential 'Shy Di' image", and indeed, the Diana portrait is among the NPG's most popular paintings, and remains on permanent display.


It was recently included in the NPG's Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits exhibition, which toured the USA and Australia during 2019, and can now be seen at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.