In the second episode of The Crown season 6, we're introduced to two photographers with wildly different approaches to their profession and contrasting stances on what constitutes a day's work.


Duncan Muir, a Scot, is a gentle-natured, humble individual who favours traditional portraiture. Weddings and graduations are his "bread and butter" but his passion is taking photographs of the royal family, and he is chosen to capture images of Charles and his sons in the grounds of Balmoral.

Then there's Mario Brenna, an Italian man who sits at the top of the paparazzi pyramid.

The photographer carried out work for globally renowned fashion houses, such as Versace, but he was also an expert at capturing highly sought-after images of the world's rich and famous, one of whom was Diana, Princess of Wales.

"The most successful people in this business are the ones that can cross from one sort of thing to another," one journalist said (via The Independent). "He's one of them."

Who is Mario Brenna?

Paparazzo Mario Brenna in a helicopter taking photographs
Paparazzo Mario Brenna at Pierre Casiraghi and Beatrice Borromeo's wedding ceremony on August 1, 2015 in Isola Grande, Stresa, Italy . (Photo by Robino Salvatore/GC Images

40-year-old Brenna, who lived in Monaco, was the man who snapped the famous images of Diana and Dodi Fayed relaxing and kissing on Mohamed Al-Fayed's Jonikal yacht off the coast of Sardinia in July 1997.

In The Crown, it's Mohamed who orchestrates Brenna's access by ordering his assistant to find the "best photographer in the Mediterranean" in a bid to speed up the relationship between his son and Diana. But at the time, it was reported that Brenna was working on other assignments in the area when he spotted the boat.

During an appearance on an Italian talk show, he revealed that he spent three days observing the couple, during which time he was anxious about being confronted by the security guards. He also said that initially, he "didn't realise the importance of that shot".

"He's a very smooth chap and, I expect, a very desirable one right now," said one photographer (via The Independent).

Brenna went on to sell the photos to publications across the world for huge sums. The Sunday Mirror reportedly paid approximately £250,000 for the British rights, Paris-Match paid 1 million francs and he pocketed over $200,000 from American tabloid The Globe.

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It's reported he earned $5-7 million in total (via The LA Times).

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Those images drew further attention to Diana in particular, with interest in her private life increasing tenfold.

"Mario wouldn't tell me what he had over the phone," another member of the paparazzi Jason Fraser told the Mail Online. "He flew to London, came to my house and simply said: 'You're not going to believe this. You might want to sit down.'

"When he showed me the prints, we spread them out over the kitchen floor and we sat in silence. I didn't know what to do. I knew nothing would ever the same again."

The Crown season 6 part 1 is available to stream now on Netflix. Part 2 will arrive on 14th December. Seasons 1-5 are available now – sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.

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