Buckingham Palace has led the tributes to Daily Mirror royal correspondent James Whitaker who has died from cancer aged 71.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “Those in the royal household who knew James were extremely sad to learn of his death.”
Editor Richard Wallace described Whitaker as a ‘true Fleet Street legend”.
He said: ‘His colleagues often joked that at times he appeared grander than the royals themselves – which, of course, he loved.
‘Despite the severity of his illness, he never complained or went in for self-pity, but insisted he had a life well lived. Our thoughts are with his loving family who – like us all – will miss him terribly.”
Sun royal photographer Arthur Edwards said Whitaker was a ‘great man and a brilliant reporter”.
One of Whitaker’s biggest scoops was the revelation that Diana, Princess of Wales, was suffering from an eating disorder. In addition to his national press journalism career he also became well known as a TV commentator on ITV’s This Morning
Former Mirror photographer Kent Gavin, quoted on the Mirror website today, said: “We were not only colleagues but friends. We travelled the world together and had a great time.
“He was, truly, a legend in his time. He had a great rapport with all the members of the royal family in spite of writing controversial stories sometimes.
“And he was respected by colleagues and rivals as well. He was just the best.”
Rose Nixon, editor of Hello! magazine, tweeted: “Terribly sad news today with the death of James Whitaker, royal editor extraordinaire.
“His energy and enthusiasm as a journalist and also as a husband, father and grandfather will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.”
Former Labour press chief Alastair Campbell tweeted: “In a profession of big characters, he was one of the biggest.”
Daily Mirror columnist and novelist Tony Parsons also paid tribute, tweeting: “Goodbye and RIP James Whitaker: Daily Mirror Royalist, Diana watcher, Fleet Street legend and a man of boundless generosity and enthusiasm.”
He added: “The death of Daily Mirror colleague James Whitaker reminds me what a great press we have in the UK.”