What could go wrong?
by Strange de Jim
As Tina Brown describes it in The Diana Chronicles, Prince Charles's job was to sire an heir and a spare. And because he'd one day be head of the Church of England, he had to marry a virgin. Charles was past 30 and having the time of his life, sleeping with the most gorgeous girls in England. He'd take one to a party and leave with another, or both. He was not a very good lover, and needed experienced lusty girls to tease him into excitement.
Camilla Shand's wedding to Andrew Parker Bowles.
1972 Charles fell in love with Camilla Shand, and after six months told
her so, just before leaving for eight months in the Navy. But he didn't
ask her to marry him. It wouldn't have been allowed anyway, since she
was known to have slept with other men (as had all of Charles's other
girlfriends). Before Charles returned to port, Camilla married Princess
Anne's former lover Andrew Parker Bowles, a devil with the ladies, who
slept with other women during his engagement to Camilla and all through
the marriage. Charles and Camilla resumed sleeping together in 1979. In
1980 Camilla and Charles French kissed at a big party, dance after
dance, in front of her husband. The Prince's sex life was getting
scandalous. The Queen and the Queen Mother were getting desperate.
Charles needed to marry a virgin, and soon
Charles had once dated Lady Sarah Spencer, who grew up at the palatial Althorp, and whose family was very close to the Crown, but he'd dropped her when she blabbed private info to the press. Now she was getting married, and at the wedding the Queen Mother was captivated by Sarah's younger sister, Lady Diana Spencer. Diana had been devastated as a child of six when her parents divorced, and her mother moved ot Argentina with her lover. Diana saw herself as a heroine in one of Barbara Cartland's romance novels. (In an odd twist of fate Diana's father married Barbara Cartland's daughter, but Diana and her siblings hated her.) Diana wanted to find her Prince. In fact, since 1979 Diana had been telling her friends she was going to marry Prince Charles because, "He's the one man on the planet who is not allowed to divorce me." She was keeping herself chaste for him on the theory, "Who else is he going to marry?"
The Queen Mother reported to the Queen, who invited Lady Diana for a weekend at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. As Tina Brown puts it, "The adjectives every witness applied enthusiastically to Diana in these early days of her romance with Charles were 'uncomplicated,' 'jolly,' and 'easygoing.' It was a big plus to Diana's cause that she appeared so happy tramping over sodden moors."
Diana flirted outrageously with Prince Charles, sitting in his lap and telling him how much she liked horseback riding. Then she unleashed her great talent, empathy. "You looked so sad when you walked up the aisle at Mountbatten's funeral," she told him soulfully. "It was the most tragic thing I've ever seen. My heart bled for you when I watched. I thought, you're so lonely—you should be with somebody to look after you." As Tina sums it up, "She had rightly sensed that the way to puncture the royal reserve of the heir to the throne was to appeal to his deep reservoirs of sympathy for himself."
Charles started dating her, Lady Diana was followed everywhere by the
press. She loved being in the papers, became friends with the
reporters, and also had great fun eluding them. They loved her, and so
did the public. Everyone got swept up in the desire to see Charles and
Diana married. The couple only saw each other thirteen times from first
meeting to wedding, mostly at big public functions. The night before
the enormous ceremony, the happy couple appeared together on the telly.
Tina describes it thus: "Asked to enumerate the interests they share,
she gives a list of things they did not: 'Music, opera, and outdoor
sports including fishing, walking, and'—the activity she hated most in
the world—'polo.' Charles truly comes alive only when he talks about
the music for the service, which he has planned to the last detail."
The Royal Wedding.
On the honeymoon, on the royal yacht Britannia,
they both were disappointed. Charles was used to being seduced, not
seducing. "Fifteen years later [Barbara Cartland] the 'Queen of
Romance' made a succinct judgment on the reasons for the marriage's
failure. 'Of course, you know where it all went wrong. She wouldn't do
oral sex.'" By the second day he was calling and writing Camilla, and
he preferred reading alone to being with Diana. She knew she'd been
rejected. They ended the honeymoon at Balmoral, where Diana found the
strict royal etiquette stifling.
Then the couple toured Wales, and the crowds wanted Diana, not Charles. Tina says, "It is hard to overemphasize how devastating the Wales experience was for Prince Charles. He was the Prince of Wales, for God's sake, not the Prince of Scotland or Ulster or Devon. Caernarvon Castle had been the scene of his Coming of Age as the heir to the throne, televised twelve years before to a dazzled nation. This was his turf and he had never before had to share it with anyone." Diana outshone him wherever they went.
Diana, William and Harry
William was born June 21, 1982. Tina reports, "[At Diana's request] the
Prince was present throughout all sixteen hours of Diana's difficult
labor, a most un-Windsor thing of him to do. In fact, he was the
first-ever Prince of Wales to be in the room when his wife gave birth."
There might be hope for the marriage. Harry was born two years later.
And Diana insisted on raising William and Harry to love the common
folk, not just royalty. She sent both her sons to an unpretentious
A six-week tour of Australia in 1983 scared Charles to death. He'd once wanted to be Governor General of Australia, and now huge crowds were flocking to see them, but he was in only eight of every hundred photos. When they returned home Charles began sleeping with Camilla again, and Diana knew it. Diana had an affair with Barry Mannakee, her bodyguard, around 1985. They got caught at Andrew and Fergie's wedding July 23, 1986. He was transferred out, and died nine months later. Princess Diana was sure he'd been murdered. (And speaking of Fergie, it was Princess Diana who introduced her to Prince Andrew, and the two sisters-in-law had a very up-and-down relationship over the years.)
|Diana had a five-year affair with Major James Hewitt, and sent him 64 steamy love letters. He stayed at Highgrove whenever Prince Charles was out of town, and was good friends with William and Harry. Charles must have known about it and approved, hoping it would make Diana happy and keep her off his back. Tina reports, "Hewitt was said by Diana to be an accomplished lover. He helped Diana achieve orgasms of a reliability and intensity she had never enjoyed before."|
Diana bringing comfort in Africa.
became a huge force for a hundred charities. Her presence guaranteed
media attention, and her visits to the sick and disadvantaged were
marvelously uplifting. Tina says, "The combination of great physical
beauty, human accessibility, and a magical sweetness was made all the
more powerful by the refined poise that went with it. When you add the
conferred mystique of royalty and a hint of her own unexpressed pain,
Diana's smile was a laser that went straight to the heart.
November 1989, she stood in ninety-four-degree heat in Jakarta,
Indonesia, and shook hands with 100 lepers. 'Faced with the horror of
leprosy, Diana shook a little girl's hand and showed no hesitation as
she grasped the gnarled, bent fingers of the patients, touched the
bloody bandages of an old man and stroked a woman's arm,' wrote the Sunday Mirror
on November 5, 1989." Diana hugged AIDS patients no one else would
touch. She went to Angola and walked through an active mine field,
because she knew the power of a picture.
However, caught up in her private pain, Diana leaked her side of the marital story to Andrew Morton in 1991 for Diana: Her True Story, a book serialized in the Sunday Times.
Diana at first denied all knowledge, but soon had to admit she'd
cooperated. "But it proved Diana wouldn't settle for the system of
structural infidelity that maintained royal marital facades of the past
... and if the Royal Family was as imperfect as every other family in
the kingdom, it might as well be treated as such—an idea that had
implications beyond the soap opera of the moment."
"Diana was so lost in her own drama that she honestly believed ... that
once Charles (and the Queen and Prince Philip) was forced to read the
naked truth, his overriding feelings would not be rage, but remorse.
She had been so long in her private panic room, she thought this
deafening public scream would solve the matter once and for all. It was
her pattern, the belief that a single volcanic act could fix
everything. Diana was not a strategist. She was a tactician. She did
not plan for the day after." Prince Charles was appalled at what he saw
as Diana's betrayal. The marriage was over.
The details of her negotiations with Charles, the Queen and Prince Philip during the separation and divorce are fascinating, especially after Squidgygate in1992, when a cell phone conversation Diana had had with her lover James Gilby was leaked, and then Camillagate, where phone sex between Charles and Camilla was published.
Diana retaliated by agreeing to give "an incendiary, irrevocable interview" to Martin Bashir of the BBC's Panorama program. What impressed me when I watched it was that Diana liked
the disadvantaged people and enjoyed talking with them. She said, for
instance, how much she appreciated the absolute honesty of the dying.
Charles decided he had to tell his side of the story and gave material
for a book and a "disastrously revealing" TV interview to Jonathan
Dimbleby of the BBC, in which he admitted sleeping with Camilla. Says
Tina, "The Queen's response to Dimbleby, according to Gyles Brandreth,
was to 'sigh, purse her lips, and murmur, "So it's come to this."' ...
much of the public's overwhelmingly negative reaction was based not on
the adultery itself but on the Prince's dumb naivete in admitting it.
'He is not the first royal to be unfaithful,' said the Daily Mirror. 'But he is the first to appear before 25 million of his subjects to confess.'"
Diana on the Panorama program.
Diana retaliated by agreeing to give "an incendiary, irrevocable interview" to Martin Bashir of the BBC's Panorama program. What impressed me when I watched it was that Diana liked the disadvantaged people and enjoyed talking with them. She said, for instance, how much she appreciated the absolute honesty of the dying.
Dr. Hasnat Khan
all this the Royals thought Diana was a nutcase, but the public adored
her. How she brilliantly used her popularity to gain a divorce
settlement of £17,000,000 is an astonishing story. Then, in the fall of
1995, she at last fell for a man who was "worthy of her affections, who
wasn't married, and who reciprocated her feelings: the
thirty-six-year-old Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan." His
family, strict Muslims, would not accept her, and the doctor was not
willing to face the media attention.
paparazzi were becoming more and more rapacious. After the divorce
Diana had refused Palace security, because the officers all reported
straight to Prince Charles and the Queen. Because he had an impressive
private security force, Diana accepted Mohamed Al Fayed's invitation to
vacation on his yacht in the Mediterranean. He quickly ordered his son
Dodi to join them. A photographer, tipped off by Diana, got a shot of
Dodi and Diana kissing. They went to Paris, where they were pursued by
hordes of paparazzi.
Finally came the car crash in the Paris tunnel. "There was a power surge beginning at around 4 A.M. as millions of kettles were turned on to 'brew up' pots of tea for the TV marathon. The national anthem played every half hour. There was no precedent for such a gesture—Diana was no longer a member of the Royal Family—but then, there was no precedent for anything that was to happen in the coming week. The cancellation of the day's football coverage was bravely borne. On the railways and in airports, the reticent British turned and hugged one another for comfort. The stiff upper lip was trembling. Soon it broke into the most astonishing collective weeping the nation had ever seen.
"The diversity of the crowd, as much as its numbers, was what made it a miracle: young, old, black, white, South Asian and East Asian, in shorts and saris and denim and pinstripes and baseball caps and hijabs. The death of an aristocratic girl who became a princess but refused to let the palace walls enclose her had somehow triggered a historic celebration of inclusion.
That morning Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "With just a look or a gesture that spoke so much more than words, she would reveal to all of us the depth of her compassion and her humanity ... She was the People's Princess and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories forever."
As Tina describes it, "The rigidities of protocol that the Princess had defied in her life tumbled before the outpouring of raw feeling from the people ... [The Queen] was obliged to make her first-ever live TV broadcast to the nation, expressing an empathy she almost certainly did not feel, and accept the flying of the Union Jack at half-staff over Buckingham Palace. And as the coffin passed Buckingham Palace, the Monarch, standing outside, did something she had only done before for a head of state. She bowed her head.
"You can see the Diana Effect today on the Queen herself. During the London terror bombings of July 7, 2005, the Sovereign did something spontaneous for the first time in her own reign but reminiscent of the Queen Mother in the Blitz. She did not wait, as she would have done in the past, for her diary to open up for a planned visit to the injured. The very next day, she traveled by helicopter from Windsor Castle to tour the wards of the Royal London Hospital. ... Another first: the Queen made a speech in the informal setting of the hospital's canteen.
"The understanding of the power of the inclusive gesture was Diana's gift to the monarchy and so much more. She played her innovative role while also fulfilling to perfection the most important, if most atavistic, family duty to which she was assigned: the production of male offspring. She gave the Windsors and England, and all the world's photographers, two tall, handsome Princes of the Blood. But then she raised them with a commoner's hands-on warmth and informality.
"... sixteen years of the Royal Family failing to understand that the warm, golden, flesh-and-blood girl in their midst was the best thing to happen to them since the restoration of King Charles II.
Here's an overview of the grave site and the island on which Princess Diana is buried.
To share this page with friends, have them go to www.strangebillions.com/diana/
Here are a few more Diana books;
The Way We Were: Remembering Diana by her butler Paul Burrell, William Morrow 2006
Moving On by her lover James Hewitt, Blake Publishing Ltd. 2005
Diana: Closely Guarded Secret by Ken Wharfe, her Scotland Yard protection officer from 1986 - 1997, Andrews McMeel Publishing 2002
Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess by Sally Bedell Smith, Signet paperback 2000
Diana's Boys: William and Harry and the Mother They Loved by Christopher Andersen, Avon paperback 2002
Princess in Love by Anna Pasternak. These are the love letters Diana wrote to James Hewitt, Signet paperback 1995
If you can read just one, make it The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown. It's the most fascinating book I've found in several years.
To share this page with friends, have them go to www.strangebillions.com/diana/