The People’s Princess
“The world admired Diana for her beauty and her grace,” a source says. “But they loved her even more because she had suffered so much — and managed to survive.”
Tale of the Tapes
“She wanted [them] to come out,” says author Andrew Morton, who is including transcripts of secret recordings Diana made in his new book.
She was one of the most beloved figures in the world — a woman of startling charisma and beauty, a devoted mother and dedicated humanitarian. But behind the glamorous façade, Princess Diana was in torment — wrestling with her royal duties, a crippling eating disorder and her husband’s devastating betrayal. Those shocking revelations were contained in Andrew Morton’s 1992 bestseller, Diana: Her True Story, and now, 20 years after her tragic death at age 36 in a Paris car crash, the book is being reissued — this time, however, with never-before-seen transcripts of tapes that Diana had secretly recorded for Morton. In those explosive interviews, Di poured her heart out, speaking openly of her battle with bulimia, her fights with Charles over his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, her multiple suicide attempts — and the people who, against all odds, helped her find happiness and love once again.
Falling For Charles
When she first met Charles at her family’s estate in 1977, a smitten but insecure Diana, 16, “kept out of the way. I remember being a fat podgy, no make-up, unsmart lady, but I made a lot of noise, and he liked that,” she said. “He was charm himself… [and] for someone like that to show you any attention — I was just so sort of amazed.” For the next two years she saw Charles only occasionally — he was dating her sister, Sarah! — but in 1980 he set his sights on Di while both were visiting a mutual friend. “The first night, we sat down on a hay bale at the barbecue [and] the next minute, he leapt on me practically.”
“I just absolutely thought I was the luckiest girl in the world,” said Diana (with Charles in 1981, three months before their wedding). “He was going to look after me. Well, was I wrong on that assumption!”
Wedding Bell Blues
The couple got engaged in February 1981, but by her wedding day that July, Diana, overwhelmed by the relentless spotlight and demands of the royal family, was already feeling a sense of dread. “I was very, very calm, deathly calm. I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and couldn’t do anything about it… One minute, I was nobody; the next minute, I was Princess of Wales… media toy, member of the family, you name it. And it was too much.”
Behind the Veil Diana appeared to be a happy, blushing bride when she wed Charles in July 1981, but privately, she already had deep misgivings about her husband.
Putting on Heirs
Diana, who promptly gave birth to sons William and Harry — an “heir and spare” — found motherhood fulfilling. “I hug my children to death. I get into bed with them at night, hug them and say, ‘Who loves you most in the whole world?’ And they always say, ‘Mummy.’ I always feed them love and affection — it’s so important.” But one day, William, then age 3, “turned around to me and said, ‘You’re the most selfish woman I’ve ever met. All you do is think of yourself.’ I said, ‘Where did you hear that?’ ‘Oh, I’ve often heard Papa saying it.’”
“Diana was miserable in her marriage, but William and Harry brought incredible happiness into her life,” says a source. “Di doted on those boys.”
On the Outs… And Three’s a Crowd, Camilla!
From the moment she wed Charles, Diana was tormented by his continuing relationship with his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles. “I was obsessed by Camilla totally. I didn’t trust Charles — I thought every five minutes he was ringing her up, asking how to handle his marriage… I once heard him on the telephone in his bath, saying, ‘Whatever happens, I will always love you.’ I told him afterward that I had listened at the door, and we had a filthy row.” When she realized that Charles had indeed gone back to Camilla, Diana confronted her romantic rival at a party in 1989. “I said, ‘Camilla, I do know what’s going on. Don’t treat me like an idiot.’ She said, ‘You’ve got all the men in the world in love with you, and two beautiful children. What more
do you want?’ So I said,
‘I want my husband.’”
The Other Woman in the Picture
Diana said she was so devastated after learning that Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles had resumed their love affair in 1986 that “I cried like I have never cried before.” Di and Charles’ marital woes were painfully apparent during a royal visit to Canada in 1991, when they kept an icy distance; they announced their separation 14 months later.
Her Battle With Bulimia
“It began a week after we got engaged, [when Charles] put his hand on my waistline and said, ‘Oh, we’re a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’ That triggered off something in me.” When she began purging, “I was so thrilled because I thought this was the release of tension,” but she quickly spiraled out of control. “The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29 inches around the waist. The day I got married, I was 23½ inches. I had shrunk into nothing… the bulimia was appalling, absolutely appalling.”
In Charles’ Corner
As described by Diana in the secret tapes, Charles was a heartless and at times downright cruel husband. But according to British TV journalist Selina Scott, who was a confidante of the couple, Charles was tormented by his own demons. “You’re lucky…you don’t have your life mapped out for you as far as you can see,” he told her. “There are times when I feel totally trapped.” Scott has said that despite his feelings for Camilla Parker Bowles, “Charles assured me that he loved [Diana],” and she adds that the prince would leave sweet notes under his wife’s pillow when he was away. Still, adds Scott, he and Camilla “share a common background [and] interests… none of which he and Diana did… There is no doubt Charles is happier with life today.”
“People started commenting, ‘Your bones are showing,’” said Diana. “I was in such a bad way.”
Her Darkest Days — and Her Savior
After her honeymoon, Diana had already fallen into a pit of despair. “I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades. [Later] I told Charles I felt so desperate, [but] he said, ‘You’re always doing this to me. I’m going riding now.’ So I threw myself down the stairs. I was four months pregnant with William.” Eventually, she began therapy with Maurice Lipsedge, a London-based psychiatrist. “Charles made me feel so inadequate in every possible way, [but Dr. Lipsedge] said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you — it’s your husband’… and I thought, ‘Maybe it’s not me.’ He helped me get back my self-esteem… It’s like being born again.”
Shying From the Spotlight
Close friend Selina Scott, who got to know the princess during the early difficult months of her marriage, said Di was “in a terrible state” trying to adjust to life in the public eye.
At Long Last, Bliss
After her 1996 divorce from Charles, Diana started dating Dodi Fayed , 42, a film producer and the son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed. “Di found true happiness with Dodi,” a source says. “He was a breath of fresh air after all those suffocating years with the royal family and her heartbreak with Charles. Sadly, Di and Dodi only had three months together, but it was long enough for her to find the love she was missing.”