Paul Fahy enjoyed his five minutes of fame in 1995 after he kissed Princess Diana when she visited his hometown. However, just seven years after his brush with royalty, Fahy hit headlines for an altogether different reason. This time, he had gone missing, leaving his family confused and broken-hearted.
Fahy grew up in the Fairfield area of Liverpool in the northwest of England. According to his mother, Sandra Howarth, he had a seemingly happy childhood. In 2015 she told her local newspaper the Liverpool Echo, “He was a loving child… very, very loving, and he had a heart of gold.”
Growing up, Fahy appeared to remain a fairly happy-go-lucky sort of person. In fact, it was his outgoing personality that would bring him to public attention in 1995. This was when Fahy had a unique encounter with Diana, Princess of Wales, when she paid a visit to his home city.
Princess Diana visited Liverpool in November 1995 to open the city’s new Women’s Hospital. While there, she also took a tour of Project Rosemary – a church-led regeneration initiative in Toxteth, a disadvantaged Merseyside neighborhood that gained notoriety in the U.K. following a series of riots in the 1980s.
Diana’s trip to Liverpool came almost three years after it was publicly announced that she had separated from Prince Charles, who she’d wed in 1981. However, it came just a few weeks before the princess’ famously explosive interview with the BBC’s Martin Bashir, in which she discussed the problems in her marriage in great detail.
The infamous Bashir interview proved to be the final straw for the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. On the Queen’s advice, the couple began divorce proceedings soon after, and their split was finalized in August 1996. Sadly, almost exactly a year later, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, France.
However, on that November day in Liverpool in 1995, there was no shadow of the tragedy to come. During her visit to the Women’s Hospital, she met with patients and interacted with the crowds who had turned up to catch a glimpse of the princess. She was then, and would remain, one of the most popular members of the royal family.
Throughout her time in the spotlight, Princess Diana became known for her compassion for the less fortunate and the ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Notably, her gregarious personality was on full display during her visit to Liverpool, as she interacted with schoolgirls and new mothers alike.
However, perhaps the highlight of the day came courtesy of local lad Paul Fahy. Naturally, Diana’s visit to Liverpool had been the talk of the city, and Fahy had got caught up in the chatter. That was how a cheeky plan was hatched, and Fahy set out to steal a kiss from the beloved princess.
10. Years later, Fahy’s mother, Howarth, would reveal that her son’s famous encounter with Diana had been the result of a light-hearted bet. Apparently, not one to turn down a dare, Fahy accepted the challenge. However, it was only when he came face-to-face with the princess that he knew he could fulfil his promise.
Howarth later explained to the Liverpool Echo how Fahy came to peck Diana on the cheek. She said, “It was a bet… Paul didn’t know he was going to do it. He had borrowed a friend’s bike and went to see Princess Diana, and then someone said to him, ’I bet you wouldn’t go up to her and kiss her.’ So he did!”
Footage from Diana’s visit to Liverpool, which has since been posted on YouTube, shows how Fahy’s encounter with the princess unfolded. In the clip, she is seen wearing a vibrant orange Versace suit as she emerges from a building. Diana is greeted by the cheers of her adoring fans, many of which she stops to talk to as she gradually makes her way through the crowd.
As the footage continues, Diana is seen graciously accepting flowers and tokens of goodwill from well-wishers and greets them happily with lots of handshakes and smiles. Then, after seemingly depositing her gifts somewhere else, she’s seen walking with a group of men, who appear to be her security detail.
It’s at this point in the video that Fahy enters the frame. As Diana approaches him, the men surrounding her seem to scatter, as if making space for the impromptu encounter. Fahy and Diana are then seen exchanging words before the young man pulls something out from a pocket and appears to offer it to the Princess.
As the pair continue to talk, Diana smiles at Fahy while tilting her head to one side. Then, after another few seconds, she bends down as Fahy moves towards her and gently plants a kiss on her cheek. With his secret mission completed, the young man continues on his way, as does Diana who seems pleasantly bemused by what just happened.
While Fahy and Diana’s encounter lasted less than a minute, it became a huge talking point about the princess’ trip to Liverpool. The moment of the kiss was captured by onlooking photographers. As a result, perhaps unsurprisingly, it was subsequently featured in many newspaper reports of the official visit.
The first Howarth heard of Fahy’s antics was the next day. And after the initial shock of learning that her son had kissed Princess Diana faded, she wasn’t the least bit surprised by Fahy’s audacious escapade. In fact, in hindsight, it wasn’t out of character for him at all. She explained to the Liverpool Echo, “That was just him.”
Describing her reaction to the revelation that Fahy had stolen a kiss from Diana, Howarth added, “I didn’t know anything about it until I saw it in the papers the next morning and people were talking about it, and I was a bit shocked. But it was just a fun gesture and Paul certainly didn’t mean any harm.”
After quizzing Fahy about his interaction with the princess, it appears that Howarth got the inside scoop on what went down. She told the Liverpool Echo, “Paul said Diana was very nice and that he’d offered her a roll-up, but she thanked him but said ‘no thanks’ and that she didn’t smoke. He said when he kissed her cheek her skin was so soft.”
While Fahy probably enjoyed his five minutes of fame, life went on and soon Diana’s trip to Liverpool must have become a distant memory. Fahy was already a father at the time of the princess’s visit. And as the years passed he became a much-loved dad to his two boys, Craig and Daniel.
Furthermore, by the beginning of 2002, Fahy was no longer in a relationship with the mother of his children and was hoping to start a family with his new girlfriend. He had experienced a number of mental health problems prior to this. However, when Fahy and his partner started trying for a baby he stopped taking his bipolar medication.
Before long, Fahy’s mental health had spiraled. However, according to his mom, he was aware of the situation and desperate to get help. Howarth later told the Liverpool Echo, “From what I know, Paul went to the Royal Hospital to see an emergency psychiatrist but he waited two or three hours and never saw anyone.”
Describing what happened next – and Fahy’s last known moments, Howarth continued, “He just walked out and that was the last anyone ever saw of him. He was picked up on CCTV leaving the Royal.” Speculating over her son’s mental state in those moments, Howarth added, “He must have been quite agitated.”
After leaving the hospital, Fahy was never seen again. He went missing that day – February 18, 2002 – aged 33. And, despite his mental health issues, his family felt that there was no good reason as to why he would disappear on his own accord. After all, he had plans for the future, including a wedding and perhaps another child.
With that in mind, Fahy’s disappearance confused his loved ones, not least of all his son Daniel Kaid. Kaid was just eight years old when his dad vanished, but he remembers clearly being told that he was missing. Kaid couldn’t understand what had happened, and it was clear that many of his relatives were equally at a loss.
Following his disappearance, Fahy was in the headlines once more, seven years after he’d first made the news thanks to his kiss with Diana. However, this time the coverage came in the form of appeals for information. His family wanted the public to be on the lookout for their missing relative.
Fahy’s particulars were circulated in a bid for information. His height was given as five feet and seven-inches, people were informed that he’d previously worked in construction and had blond hair and blue eyes. Furthermore, the description of Fahy mentioned a distinguishing feature – a distinctive tattoo dedicated to Liverpool Football Club on his left arm.
However, despite efforts to locate Fahy, by 2015 he had still not returned home to his family. It was then that Howarth spoke openly about the heartache she felt over her son’s disappearance in an interview with the Liverpool Echo. She told the publication at the time, “I love him and I miss him every bloody day.”
Howarth revealed that she shared a close bond with Fahy, and therefore her son’s absence had been keenly felt over the years. She explained, “Paul would come to see me almost every day and when he didn’t visit, he would phone to ask if everyone was alright. That’s why I can’t understand why he hasn’t now, why he doesn’t.”
Bearing this in mind, you can understand that the 13 years since Fahy’s disappearance had been extremely difficult for Howarth. During that time, the distraught mother had faced ups and downs. However, ultimately, she had found the help of the U.K-based charity Missing People to be invaluable in helping her come to terms with her situation.
Even though Howarth had gone more than a decade without seeing Fahy’s face or hearing his voice, she remained hopeful that she would one day be reunited with her son. She told the Liverpool Echo, “In the beginning, I did think that something had happened, but now I long for him to return.”
Over the years, Howarth has had some leads regarding Fahy’s potential whereabouts. For instance, she revealed, “We had news of a sighting in Blackpool last year where Paul used to work in (popular British fast food chain restaurant) Harry Ramsden’s but trying to find him would be like finding a needle in a haystack. But that doesn’t stop us trying.”
With no real clue as to where Fahy could be, Howarth couldn’t help but worry about her son’s welfare, particularly given his history with mental health issues. She told the Liverpool Echo, “He can’t be on medication so I wonder if he is okay healthwise if he is thinking straight. It is just so, so hard.”
Another cause of despair for Howarth was all the things that Fahy was losing out on in his absence. She explained, “He has missed so much but there is still so much for him to come home for. Paul has two sons Craig and Daniel, and Craig has got two young children now, a boy and a girl, so Paul is a grandad.”
Given how much Howarth still hopes that Fahy will return home, she has imagined what that day might be like many times. She revealed, “It’s the wondering and the waiting that is so very hard… You’re in limbo. Every knock on the door could be him. Every time the phone rings, I think it might be Paul.”
Howarth told the Liverpool Echo, “Every time I leave the house I am looking for Paul and I worry I might not recognize him.” However, deep down she knows that she could never forget her son. Howarth explained, “It doesn’t matter how many years may pass. I will always know my boy.”
So, Howarth still remains positive that she will one day be reunited with Paul Fahy. Additionally, she wants her son to know that she could never be mad with him for vanishing in the first place. She explained, “He’s not in any trouble. No-one will be cross. I just want peace… I just want him home.”
In an interview with ITV in 2013, Fahy’s son, Daniel Kaid, expressed similar sentiments. He claimed that all he wanted to know was if his father was doing well. That was the most important thing to him. Kaid explained, “Even if he’s enjoying life now, at least one phone call would let us know he’s alright”.
In the meantime, Fahy’s profile on the Missing People website remains live. An extract reads, “Paul we are here for you whenever you are ready; we can listen, talk you through what help you need, pass a message for you and help you to be safe. Call. Text. Anytime. Free. Confidential.”
In February 2020 it will be 18 years since Fahy disappeared, but the pain is presumably all too fresh for his family. In a video posted to the Liverpool Echo website in 2015 Howarth said, “We just want to know that he’s safe. If he doesn’t want to come home – there’s no reason why he shouldn’t – but if he doesn’t want to, just to let us know he’s safe and well.”