It published what it claimed was the last photo of Prince William’s mother, Lady Diana alive following the 1997 car crash in France that killed her, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their driver Henri Paul.
The photo showed Diana lying in the wrecked Mercedes sedan being administered oxygen in the moments after the crash. The decision to publish the photo caused worldwide outrage. But Umberto Brindani, Chi’s editor at the time, brushed off the criticism.
“I published the picture for a very simple reason – it has never been seen before,” he said. “In my opinion it is not a picture which is offensive to the memory of Princess Diana. I found it rather tender and touching.”
Ironically, current Chi editor Alfonso Signorini used some of the same reasoning to justify publishing more photos of the Duchess, some of which are reportedly more lurid than those already printed by French magazine Closer.
“The fact that these are the future rulers of England makes the article more interesting and topical,” he said. “This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love.”
The magazine is owned by the Mondadori media group, which, in turn, is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has endured his fair share of scandals. Among the latest charges, he’s alleged to have had sex with underage prostitutes at a “bunga, bunga” party.
Buckingham Palace is suing French magazine Closer, also owned by Mondadori, for publishing topless photos of the Duchess last week. It raised the specter of Diana’s death as one reason for the move, saying it doesn’t also want to see Kate hounded by the paparazzi.
The magazine is set to publish the photos Monday (Sept. 17).