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The latest exhibit to debut in Santa Monica, “Princess Diana: Accredited Access” by Fever, tells the story of the world’s most beloved princess through an intimate new lens. Courtesy photo

New Santa Monica Experience Offers An Intimate Look At Princess Diana

By Bridgette M. Redman
Few people had more permanent and personal access to Princess Diana than Anwar Hussein, the royal photographer who took thousands of photos of the People’s Princess.

“Princess Diana: Accredited Access” has opened in Santa Monica Place, where the immersive experience runs through March.

Showcasing 150 photographs taken by Hussein and his two sons, Zak and Samir, the exhibition offers an audio tour narrated by the two sons sharing new stories about Princess Diana and her family.
This is what Cliff Skelliter, the show’s organizer, calls an introductory documentary.

“It didn’t originally start that way,” Skelliter said.

“But with art and storytelling, you think you’re going in one direction, and then listening and reading between the lines, you start going in the direction the story takes you.”

“Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access” was created by Fever, an entertainment discovery platform that brings together experiences from across the country such as Los Angeles-based “Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience”.

The designers and planners of this exhibition met Hussein, who is the oldest royal photographer.

Hussein was born in Tanzania and started his career as a photojournalist.

Hired by the United Nations, he photographed refugees from the civil uprising in the Belgian Congo.

He moved to England, where he photographed everyone from the homeless to big rock stars like Elton John, Rod Stewart, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, The Who, Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols.

He has also been hired as a photographer for many films, including Bond films.

He went on to become the Official Royal Photographer, known for capturing more relaxed moments rather than just formal portraits.

“He started sharing stories with us,” Skelliter said.

“You realize he’s someone the princess spends so much time with. He was there before Diana got involved with the royal family as a young lady and he’s still a royal photographer. They spent a lot of time. time together We took these great stories and turned them into an audio guide.

While he said an audio guide looks standard for an exhibit, theirs isn’t. They use Hussein’s sons, who were brought up with Princes William and Harry, to tell the stories.

“Not only do they tell you the stories of what happened with each photo, but they give you little cookies, cute little pieces of stories,” Skelliter said.

“If you’re a die-hard Diana Day One fan, you’ll love this. There are things that only Anwar knows. No one else knows these things – small exchanges.

Focus on Diana’s Life

Fever started creating the experience in 2019. The pandemic gave Fever time to continue to develop it. Skelliter said he had a very superficial understanding of Diana before starting this project. He was amazed at all the layers that have unfolded in his life and his personality.

“This person is incredibly inspiring,” Skelliter said.

“She was described as when you were near her, when she held your hand, when she hugged you, it was like you were touched by magic.

“Hearing these stories about her, we said that we need to bring this to people so that they can experience it on a really deep and intimate level the best that we can.”
Skelliter decided he wanted to tell the story as a series of different pieces, each with its own name.

“I wanted each room to be like an episode on a TV show,” Skelliter said. “You end up with this seven part TV series that you stuff yourself with in real time.”

The rooms – or episodes – are the Dark Room Photography, Growing, Glam, Crowning Glory, Working Royals, Humanitarian and Unguarded. Each section features photographs, artwork, artifacts, and first-hand testimonials from the Princess. The middle piece – Crowning Glory – focuses on the hats and tiaras of Diana, Kate and Meghan.

Artist Pauline Loctin, a Quebec sculptor who works with paper, made six sculptures for the exhibition.

“We call them monuments,” Skelliter said.

“They are so huge that they have their own bedroom. You go through the stories, but you hit Crowning Glory in the middle.

“It’s your little intermission or your snack break. It’s a little dazzling, kind of a break from the stories and now you’re going to have this beautiful music and some beautiful abstract pieces.

“You will look at them and you will not believe that they are paper. “

Hussein was Diana’s confidant

Skelliter was reluctant to share the stories about what Anwar knew.

He said he wanted people to see the exhibit and experience the stories while looking at the pictures and listening to them firsthand. He offered a little teaser.

“There are things Anwar would share with us that no one really knew,” Skelliter said.

“For example, there are these little things about their relationship. She came to him for advice on things – relationship advice when she was single and dating, cultural advice, or advice on raising children. She approached him and asked him questions. These are the kinds of intimate conversations Diana had with him.

Hussein was a replacement father figure for Diana who spent a lot of time with her.

He took most of Diana’s iconic footage. Some of these images are part of the exhibition, as well as some unknown images.

Of the 150 images, Skelliter said 90% of them are printed 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

“It will be a good, visually stimulating experience,” said Skelliter.

“By seeing these larger than life images and learning the story behind them, audiences will love seeing the story. They will see the transition from this young woman who did not yet know all the dance steps to the princess. They’re going to know part of the story, but they’re going to have new wrinkles, new clips of Anwar that really show the story in a way they maybe didn’t hear it.

Experiences available

Experiences are available Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Time slots are available every 15 minutes. All ticket holders have access to an app so they can browse the exhibit while listening to the voices of the threads telling stories.

Standard tickets cost $ 25, while VIP tickets cost $ 37. Discounts are available for children under 12, seniors, military personnel, and students. VIP ticket holders receive a souvenir book.

“The way we approached it, it’s not something you throw in the backseat of your car and forget about it,” Skelliter said.

“We want this to be a coffee table book. You will feel like you have something that you are going to hold onto for the rest of your life.

Princess Diana:
Accredited access

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Michael E. Marquez