On Aug. 31, Diana, Princess of Wales, would have been gone 20 years. Yet the world still remembers. And how.
The rabid, avid interest in the short, bittersweet life of the woman the world knows as the “People’s Princess” hasn’t abated. New and reissued books about her, and commemorative issues of magazines, have been dominating bookstore shelves and newsstands in the run-up to her death anniversary observance.
Several new documentaries about her life and death are once more captivating audiences the world over.
In July, the documentary film, “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy,” aired in the United Kingdom and the United States, in which her sons, William and Harry—ages 15 and 12 respectively, when she died at age 36 in that tragic car crash in Paris—speak candidly for the first time about their mother.
Andrew Morton, the journalist and biographer who wrote the bombshell “Diana: Her True Story” in 1992, has also rereleased the tome with a new foreword and title, “Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words.”
After her death, Morton revealed that his source for the book was Diana all along, who passed on six audiotapes of indirectly conducted interviews to him through their common friend, Dr. James Colthurst. The princess wanted to air her side of the story as her fairytale marriage was coming to an end.
Also controversial is another film, “Diana: In Her Own Words,” which aired just early this month in the UK, where Diana appears in previously unseen footage, speaking openly, in private, to her speech coach, Peter Settelen, about her troubled marriage. Her friend, Dr. Colthurst, speaks on record for the first time.
Diana’s family, the Spencers, tried to stop the release of the tapes, filmed between 1992 to 1993, but they were eventually returned to Settelen in 2004 after a long dispute.
Below are the some of the most revealing quotes from the film and the Morton audiotapes.
On being a rebel:
“I was a rebel. I always did the dares. I wasn’t academic at all. I just wanted to be with the people and have fun… I got the prize for being the kindest girl in school. [The rebelliousness] was underlying. It was there… They didn’t see it.”
On meeting Prince Charles, 13 years her senior, who previously dated her older sister, Sarah:
“He chatted me up. He was like a bad rash. He was all over me, and I thought, you know, ugh!”
On love and her engagement to Prince Charles:
“I was brought up with the sense that if you got engaged to someone, you loved them… The most extraordinary thing is we had this ghastly interview the day we announced our engagement and this ridiculous man said, ‘Are you in love?’ I thought that was a thick question so I said, ‘Yes, of course, we are’… and Charles turned around and said, ‘Whatever in love means.’ That threw me completely… Absolutely traumatized me… No, I didn’t dare [ask him why he said that]… We met 13 times before we got married (laughs).”
On Camilla Parker Bowles:
“I remember saying to my husband, ‘Why is this lady around?’ and he said, ‘Well, I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mistress.’”
“The lies and deceit! The first thing that hit me was my [future] husband sending Camilla Parker Bowles flowers when she had meningitis: ‘To Gladys from Fred’ (their nicknames for each other).”
“I once heard him on the telephone in his bath on his handheld set, 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.”
On her suicide attempt while pregnant with William:
“When I was four months pregnant with William I threw myself downstairs, trying to get my husband’s attention, for him to listen to me. I had told Charles I felt so desperate and I was crying my eyes out. He said I was a crying wolf. ‘I’m not going to listen,’ he said. ‘You’re always doing this to me. I’m going riding now.’ So I threw myself down the stairs. The Queen comes out, absolutely horrified, shaking. She was so frightened. I knew I wasn’t going to lose the baby [but I was] quite bruised around the stomach. When he came back, you know, it was just dismissal, total dismissal. He just carried on out of the door.”
On asking the Queen for advice about her marriage:
“I went to the top lady, sobbing, ‘What do I do?’ She said, ‘I don’t know what you should do. Charles is hopeless.’ And that was it. That was help (grimaces)!”
On gaffe-prone Prince Philip:
“My father-in-law said to my husband, ‘If your marriage doesn’t work out, you can always go back to her after five years.’ I mean, for real… I knew something was happening before that.”
On her bulimia, which started a week after her engagement:
“Everyone in the family knew about the bulimia, and they all blamed the failure of the marriage on the bulimia. And that’s taken some time to get them thinking differently. I was rejected. I didn’t think I was good enough for this family, so I took it out on myself. I could’ve gone to alcohol, which would have been obvious. I could’ve gone anorexic, which would’ve been even more obvious. I decided to do it more discreetly, which ultimately wasn’t discreet. But I chose to hurt myself instead of hurting all of you.”
On Barry Mannakee, her bodyguard, who Diana thought was “bumped off”—he died in a motorcycle accident—owing to suspicions of their inappropriate relationship:
“When I was 24 or 25 I fell deeply in love with someone who worked in this environment. And he was the greatest friend I ever had… I mean, I was quite happy to give all of this up. At the moment, at the time, it was quite something to have all this. [So] to just go off and live with him, can you believe it?”