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Lap snap snapped up: Rare ‘censored’ Princess Diana photo sold for $18,000

A previously unseen press photo of a teenaged Princess Diana is held by Bobby Livingston of RR Auctions on January 16, 2013. The black-and-white image from the 1980s shows Diana smiling at the camera as she lies in the lap of an unidentified young man reading a book. (AFP Photo)
A previously unseen image of then-20-year-old Diana Spencer pictured with a handsome young man two days after the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles has sold for over $18,000. A London tabloid once deemed it ‘too hot to print’.

­The black-and-white photo from the early 1980s captures Diana smiling at the camera as she lies in the lap of the unidentified man reading a book, with a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky standing by the window. 

The words "not to be published" are written across the 20x25-centimeter photo, dated February 26, 1981 on its back – two days after Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.

According to British media, the man is the great-grandson of former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Adam Russell.

Bobby Livingstone of RR Auctions of Amherst told AFP that the photograph would typically sell for around $1,000, "but because it has that [not-to-be-published] marking on it, we expect it to go for much more."

"It captures the moment when the engagement had been announced two days before and the press was going mad over Diana but the Daily Mirror just wasn't going to publish this picture of her in a comfortable position with a man other than Prince Charles," he said.

The auctioneers did not identify the buyer who got hold of Diana’s picture during the internet bidding.