Hong Kong people are in shock this week. Close on the heels of the accident in which a police car hit and killed three pedestrians last Thursday, a bus ploughed into a busy snack shop in Mongkok on Tuesday night, killing a man. But what really caught us all, and the whole world, by surprise was the motor accident that claimed the lives of Princess Diana, companion Dodi al-Fayed and driver Henri Paul in Paris. As thousands mourn her death at Westminster Abbey today, many may have yet to come to terms with the tragic reality of her life and its end. I am not a big fan of Princess Diana. In fact, when I first heard the news that she was involved in an accident (I was playing mahjong with my family at the time) I thought: 'Well, she would be in the intensive-care unit, wouldn't she? Princess Diana is a celebrity.' Then the gloomy news came, and our game came to an abrupt halt because the entire family were so shocked. I learned about the princess mostly through the media (though I did catch a glimpse of her in London once) and I am most impressed by her worldwide efforts to promote AIDS awareness and, more recently, her campaign for an international ban on landmines. Ironically, the general public (especially in the West) has always been more interested in her private life than her charitable works. Why people would want to know with whom she was holidaying still mystifies me. My natural reaction to those often-fuzzy pictures of Princess Diana - or indeed other members of the royal family or movie stars, taken by the paparazzi - is: 'Not another one!' before I turn the page over. Years ago a friend gave me a copy of Diana - - Her True Story by Andrew Morton and I have just left it on my bookshelf gathering dust along with The Guide To Cycling, which I bought in a bargain sale of books. The only part of this unofficial biography that I looked at were the pictures stuffed in between the text, most of which came from her family album and magazines. She looked stunningly beautiful. But who cares how many men she has dated or whether she was eating breakfast or not? I met a London tabloid photographer some years ago who told me (rather unkindly, I thought) that: 'A picture of Diana used to cost millions of pounds but these days she's worth only a couple of hundred pounds.' That was during the quieter days of her life. But just before she was killed, with news of her being involved with a 'new love interest', (again what did I care?) the princess had indeed become 'expensive' again. Though it is now reported that the driver was more than three times over the legal alcohol limit before the crash, it would not surprise me that the pursuing paparazzi also played a part in the accident. If so, her death was caused as much by human greed as anything else. But life is full of ironies. The day after the crash, there were rumours that pictures of the incident were circulating in the market for US$1 million (HK$7.74 million) and, of all publications, it was the American supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer that spearheaded the call for a boycott of the death-scene pictures. This is as ironic as the fact that one of the paparazzi under police investigation should be called Romuald Rat. Closer to home, the Apple Daily in its editorial this week asked local media to 'reflect' on what they were doing, especially paparazzi who infringe on other people's privacy to get a sensational picture. Hello. Aren't Apple, and its sister magazine Next, the very publications that sent out 'puppy teams' (the local term for paparazzi) to stalk celebrities in order to dig dirt? Still, it is not entirely fair to start pointing fingers at the media or photographers for this undesirable practice. After all, these publications, as businesses, would not be printing these pictures and stories if no one wanted to read them. And who buys these pictures to look at or to satisfy their own curiosity? Members of the public. Apart from lewd pictures, the Hong Kong public also has a morbid fascination with gory pictures, especially those of accidents. I would not read any newspapers when I was a child, simply because they were full of bloody pictures. I have little doubt that one day pictures of the crash, and even of the princess in the wretched car, will creep into the newspapers. But I have always admired her glamorous appearance, her stunning beauty and, most of all, her affection towards people, whether they were AIDS sufferers, children living in famines or the ailing elderly. I am sure this saint-like quality is also how she will be remembered by many of us.