The night I confronted Camilla… to Charles’s utter horror: When Princess Diana realised her husband had resumed his relationship with Mrs Parker Bowles, she had it out with the older woman – at her sister’s 40th birthday party, writes ANDREW MORTON
- Princess Diana, in her own words, tells of coming face-to-face with Camilla
- ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles,’ Princess Diana told her
- Read Andrew Morton’s book Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words
In our poignant serialisation of Andrew Morton’s explosive book Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words, to mark 25 years since her death, the Princess has detailed the misery of her marriage to Prince Charles. Today, in the final extract, she tells of coming face-to-face with his mistress…
The worst day of my life was realising that Charles had gone back to Camilla. And one of the bravest moments of my entire ten years of marriage was when we went to this ghastly party.
Nobody expected me to turn up to the party [thrown by Lady Annabel Goldsmith in February 1989 for Camilla’s sister’s 40th birthday], but a voice inside me said: ‘Go for the hell of it.’ So I psyched myself up something awful.
I decided I’m not going to kiss Camilla hello any more. I was going to shake hands with her instead. This was my big step.
And I was feeling frightfully brave and bold, and basically ‘Diana’s going to come away, having done her bit’.
The worst day of my life was realising that Charles had gone back to Camilla. Pictured: Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races
Charles needled me the whole way down to Ham Common (in Richmond, South-West London), where the party was. ‘Oh, why are you coming tonight?’ — needle, needle, needle. I didn’t bite but I was very, very on edge. Anyway, I walk into the house and stick my hand out to Camilla for the first time and think: ‘Phew, I’ve got over that.’
There were about 40 of us there and we all sat down and, bearing in mind they were all my husband’s age, I was a total fish out of water. But I decided I am going to try my hardest. I was going to make an impact.
And then after dinner, we were all upstairs and I was chatting away, and suddenly noticed there was no Camilla and no Charles upstairs. So this disturbed me.
There were about 40 of us there and we all sat down and, bearing in mind they were all my husband’s age, I was a total fish out of water. Pictured: Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York have fun with their umbrellas at Royal Ascot in 1987
So I make my way to go downstairs. I know what I’m going to confront myself with.
They tried to stop me from going downstairs. ‘Oh, Diana, don’t go down there.’
‘I’m just going to find my husband — I would like to see him.’ I had been upstairs about an hour and a half so I was entitled to go down and find him. I go downstairs, and there is a very happy little threesome going on downstairs — Camilla, Charles and another man chatting away.
So I thought: ‘Right, this is your moment,’ and joined in the conversation as if we were all best friends. And the other man said: ‘I think we ought to go upstairs now.’ So we stood up, and I said: ‘Camilla, I’d love to have a word with you, if it’s possible’, and she looked really uncomfortable and put her head down.
I go downstairs, and there is a very happy little threesome going on downstairs — Camilla, Charles and another man chatting away, pictured: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer opening the Mountbatten Exhibition at Broadlands
So I thought: ‘Right, this is your moment,’ and joined in the conversation as if we were all best friends
And I said to the men: ‘OK, boys, I’m just going to have a quick word with Camilla,’ and ‘I’ll be up in a minute.’ They shot upstairs like chickens with no heads, and I could feel upstairs all hell breaking loose. ‘What’s she going to do?’
I said to Camilla: ‘Would you like to sit down?’ So we sat down, and I was utterly terrified of her, and I said: ‘Camilla, I would just like you to know that I know exactly what is going on.’
She said: ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’
And I said: ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles, and I just want you to know that.’
I WATCH ALL THE SOAPS
Top Of The Pops, Coronation Street, all the soap operas. You name it, I’ve watched it.
The reason why I watch them so much now is not so much out of interest but if I go out and about, whether it be to Birmingham, Liverpool or Dorset, I can always pick up on a TV programme and you are on the same level. That I decided for myself.
It works so well. Everybody watches it and I say: ‘Did you see so and so? Wasn’t it funny when this happened or that happened?’ And you are immediately on the same level.
And she said: ‘Oh, it’s not a cloak-and-dagger situation.’
I said: ‘I think it is.’
I wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked, but at least I got the conversation going. She told me: ‘You never let him see the children when he’s up in Scotland.’
I told her: ‘Camilla, the children are either at Highgrove or in London.’ That’s Charles’s biggest fault: he never sees the children. But I never take them away.
The other day, for instance, William said: ‘Papa, will you play with us.’ ‘Oh, I don’t know if I have time.’ Famous quote — always happens. So, he can’t gripe about that.
Anyway, going back to Camilla. She said to me: ‘You’ve got everything you ever wanted. You’ve got all the men in the world falling in love with you, and you’ve got two beautiful children. What more could you want?’
So I said: ‘I want my husband.’
Someone came down to relieve us, obviously. ‘For God’s sake, go down there, they’re having a fight.’ It wasn’t a fight — calm, deathly calm.
I said to Camilla: ‘I’m sorry I’m in the way. I obviously am in the way and it must be hell for both of you, but I do know what is going on. Don’t treat me like an idiot.’
So I went upstairs and people began to disperse. In the car on the way back, my husband was over me like a bad rash and I cried like I have never cried before — it was anger, it was seven years’ pent-up anger coming out.
I cried and cried and cried and I didn’t sleep that night. And the next morning, when I woke up, I felt a tremendous shift.
I’d done something, said what I felt. Still the old jealousy and anger swilling around, but it wasn’t so deathly as before.
She said to me: ‘You’ve got everything you ever wanted. You’ve got all the men in the world falling in love with you, and you’ve got two beautiful children. What more could you want?’ Pictured: The pair on their engagement day at Buckingham Palace
And I said to him at the weekend, three days later: ‘Darling, I’m sure you’ll want to know what I said to Camilla. There’s no secret. You may ask her. I just said I loved you – there’s nothing wrong in that.’
He said: ‘I don’t believe it.’
I said: ‘That’s what I said to her. I’ve got nothing to hide — I’m your wife and the mother of your children.’
That always makes him slightly twitch, when I say ‘mother of your children’. He hates being made aware of it.
That was it, really. It was a big step for me. I was desperate to know what she said to him — no idea of course!
I hated myself so much. I didn’t think I was good enough. I thought I wasn’t good enough for Charles, I wasn’t a good enough mother — I mean doubts as long as one’s leg.
I told her: ‘Camilla, the children are either at Highgrove or in London.’ That’s Charles’s biggest fault: he never sees the children. But I never take them away. Pictured: Princess Diana at polo, just two weeks before the birth of Prince William
My husband made me feel so inadequate in every possible way: each time I came up for air, he pushed me down again
Even if I ate a lot of dinner, Charles would say: ‘Is that going to reappear later? What a waste.’
I think the bulimia actually woke me up in the end. I suddenly realised what I was going to lose — and was it worth it?
[Diana’s former flatmate] Carolyn Bartholomew rang me up one night [circa 1989] and said: ‘Do you realise that if you sick up potassium and magnesium, you get these hideous depressions?’
I said: ‘No.’
‘Well, presumably that’s what you suffer from. Have you told anyone?’
I said: ‘No.’
‘You must tell a doctor.’
I said: ‘I can’t.’
She said: ‘You must. I’ll give you one hour to ring up your doctor — and if you don’t, I’m going to tell the world.’
She was so angry with me. So that’s how I got involved with the shrink called Maurice Lipsedge. He came along — a sweetheart, very nice.
He walked in and said: ‘How many times have you tried to do yourself in?’
I thought: ‘I don’t believe this question,’ so I heard myself say: ‘Four or five times.’
He asked all these questions, and I was able to be completely honest with him. I spent a couple of hours with him, and he said: ‘I’m going to come and see you once a week for an hour and we’re just going to talk it through.’
He said: ‘There’s nothing wrong with you; it’s your husband.’
And when he said that, I thought: ‘Maybe it’s not me.’
He helped me get back my self-esteem, and he gave me books to read. I kept thinking: ‘This is me, this is me — I’m not the only person!’ Dr Lipsedge said: ‘In six months’ time, you won’t recognise yourself. If you can keep your food down, you will change completely.’
I must say, it’s like being born again since then. Just odd bursts, lots of odd bursts — especially at Balmoral, very bad at Balmoral —and Sandringham and Windsor. Sick the whole time.
Last year, I was all right: it was once every three weeks, whereas it used to be four times a day. And it was a big ‘hooray’ on my part. I felt so much stronger mentally and physically, so was able to soldier on in the world.
My skin never suffered from the bulimia nor my teeth. When you think of all the acid! I was amazed at my hair.
My husband made me feel so inadequate in every possible way: each time I came up for air, he pushed me down again. Pictured: Diana holding Prince William with Charles, Prince Philip and the Queen
From my point of view, I thought because the public saw a smiling picture on the front of the Daily Mail, they’d think I was all right. I guess they did wonder, but nobody voiced it.
The dressmakers noticed — but it’s like doctors who say: ‘Oh you’ve lost a bit,’ or ‘You’ve put on a bit,’ or ‘What’s happened here? You must look after yourself.’ But that was the extent anyone ever went into it.
I’ve got what my mother’s got. However bloody you’re feeling, you can put on the most amazing show of happiness. My mother is an expert at that. I’ve picked it up, kept the wolves from the door. Because I had a smile on my face, everybody thought I was having a wonderful time. That’s what they chose to think — it made them happier thinking that.
The media started to say it was my fault that I was the Marilyn Monroe of the 1980s, and that I was adoring it. But I’ve never ever sat down and said: ‘Hooray, how wonderful.’ Never — because the day I do that, we’re in trouble in this set-up. I am performing a duty as the Princess of Wales.
And if I go somewhere else [in the future], I go somewhere else. If life changes, it changes.
From day one, I always knew I would never be the next Queen. No one said that to me — I just knew it. But at least when I finish, as I see it, my 12 to 15 years as Princess of Wales . . . I don’t see it going on any longer, funnily enough.
We stayed up there at Balmoral from August to October. I got terribly, terribly thin. People started commenting: ‘Your bones are showing.’ By October, I was in a very bad way. Pictured: Prince Charles and Lady Diana in the Balmoral grounds during their honeymoon
If I was able to write my own script, I’d say that I would hope that my husband would go off, go away with his lady and sort that out and leave me and the children to carry the Wales name through to the time William ascends the throne. And I’d be behind them all the way.
I can do this job so much better on my own; I don’t feel trapped… It would be quite nice to go and do things like a weekend in Paris, but it’s not for me at the moment.
But I know, one day, if I play the rules of life — the game of life — I will be able to have those things I’ve always pined for, and they will be that much more special because I will be that much older and I’ll be able to appreciate them that much more.
I don’t want my friends to be hurt and think I’ve dropped them, but I haven’t got time to sit and gossip. I’ve got things to do and time is precious.
Last August, a friend said to me that I’m going to marry somebody who’s foreign, or who has got a lot of foreign blood in them. I thought it was interesting. I do know I’m going to remarry or live with someone.
I see myself one day living abroad. I don’t know why I think that — and I think of either Italy or France, which is rather unnerving. But not yet.
Adapted from Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton, published by Michael O’Mara Books at £9.99. © Andrew Morton 2017. To order a copy for £8.99 (offer valid to September 10, UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.
‘Why can’t you be fun like Fergie?’ he said
Fergie seemed to know all about the royal set-up, and came to lunch at Buckingham Palace and didn’t seem daunted by it all.
Suddenly, everybody said: ‘Oh, isn’t Fergie [Sarah, Duchess of York] marvellous, a breath of fresh air — thank God she’s more fun than Diana.’ I felt terribly insecure. I thought maybe I ought to be like Fergie.
And my husband said: ‘I wish you would be like Fergie — all jolly. Why are you always so miserable? Why can’t you be like Grannie [the Queen Mother]?’ I’m quite glad I’m not like Grannie now. And I made so many balls-ups trying to be like Fergie.
I went to a pop concert, David Bowie, with my friend David Waterhouse and [Princess Margaret’s son] David Linley. I went in leather trousers, which I thought was the right thing to do, completely putting out of mind that future Queens don’t wear leather like that in public.
So I thought that was frightfully ‘with it’, frightfully pleased to act my own age. Slapped hands.
The same summer, at Ascot, I put somebody’s umbrella up somebody’s backside. [Photographers captured the moment, above, when Diana and Fergie poked their friend Lulu Blacker with rolled umbrellas.] I got terribly jealous of Fergie and she got terribly jealous of me. I couldn’t understand it: she was actually enjoying being where she was, whereas I was fighting to survive.
I couldn’t understand how she could find it so easy. I thought she would be like me and be shy.
When I first arrived on the royal scene, I’d always put my head down. Now that I interpret it, that did look sulky. I’ve never sulked. I never sulked as a child; it’s just not in me.
But I’ve been terrified out of my tiny little mind. I was just so frightened of the attention I was getting. It took me six years to get comfortable.
One minute, I was nobody; the next minute, I was Princess of Wales — mother, media toy, member of this family, you name it. And it was too much for one person at that time.
No, Fergie was a different kettle of fish altogether, and she wooed everybody in this family and did it so well. She left me looking like dirt.
I knew eventually Fergie would turn round and say: ‘Duch [Diana’s childhood nickname], how on earth have you survived all these years?’ She’s said it now for the past two years.
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