Wednesday, November 21, 2012



At the age of 14 I just remember thinking that I wasn’t very good at anything, that I was hopeless.  My brother was always the one getting exams at school and I was the dropout.  I couldn’t understand why I was perhaps a nuisance to have around which, in later years, I’ve perceived as part of the [whole question of the] son, the child who died before me was a son and both [parents] were crazy to have a son and heir and there comes a third daughter. What a bore, we’re going to have to try again.  I’ve recognized that now.  I’ve been aware of it and now I’ve recognized it and that’s fine.  I accept it.


I never really tried to call it off in the sense of doing that but the worst moment was when we got to Broadlands.  I thought, you know, it was just grim.  I just had tremendous hope in me, which was slashed by day two.  Went to Broadlands.  Second night, out come the van der Post novels he hadn’t read.  Seven of them – they came on our honeymoon.  He read them and we had to analyse them over lunch every day.  We had to entertain the boardroom  on Britannia, which were all the top people every night, so there was never any time on our own.  Found that very difficult to accept.  By then the bulimia was appalling, absolutely appalling.  It was rife, four times a day on the yacht.  Anything I could find I would gobble up and be sick two minutes later – very tired.  So, of course, that slightly got the mood swings going in the sense that one minute would be happy, next blubbing one’s eyes out.

I remember crying my eyes out on our honeymoon.  I was so tired, for all the wrong reasons totally.

Went off to Balmoral straight from the yacht, everyone was there to welcome us and then the realisation set in.  My dreams were appalling.  At night I dreamt of Camilla the whole time.  Charles got Laurens van der Post up to come and help me.  Laurens didn’t understand me.  Everyone saw I was getting thinner and thinner and I was being sicker and sicker.  Basically they thought I could adapt to being Princess of Wales overnight.  Anyway, a godsend, William was conceived in October.  Marvellous news, occupied my mind.



Then between William and Harry being born is total darkness.  I can’t remember much, I’ve blotted it out, it was such pain.  However, Harry appeared by miracle.  We were very, very close to each other the six weeks before Harry was born, the closest we’ve ever, ever been and ever will be.  Then suddenly as Harry was born it just went bang, our marriage, the whole thing went down the drain.  I knew Harry was going to be a boy because I saw it on the scan.  Charles always wanted a girl.  He wanted two children and he wanted a girl.  I knew Harry was a boy and I didn’t tell him.  Harry arrived, Harry had red hair, Harry was a boy.  First comment was, “Oh God, it’s a boy,” second comment, “and he’s got red hair.” Something inside me closed off.  By then I knew he had gone back to his lady, but somehow we’d managed to have Harry.   Harry was a complete joy and is actually closer to his father than perhaps William at the moment.

Prince Charles went to talk to my mother at Harry’s christening and said: “I’m so disappointed – I thought it would be a girl. “  Mummy snapped his head off, saying “You should be thankful that you’ve had a child that was normal.”  Ever since that day the shutters have come down and that’s what he does when he gets somebody answering back at him.

Andrew Morton, Diana – Her True Story  (A Commemorative Edition with New Material Including Her Own Words), New York, Simon & Schuster, 1997.

NOTE:   Like most readers who might alight here,  I have vivid, synoptic, almost eidetic memories of Princess Diana and "The Princess Diana Story."  The Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer occurred on the morning of the second day of the July 1981 New York State Bar Exams, a big day in my life, and up and awake early and restless at 4 am in Brooklyn Heights, I watched the pageantry out of enervated curiosity, but mostly absolute amazement at its colorful beauty.

Also, like most of the world, I watched the weird deterioration of the royal couple's marriage, but didn't focus too much on the florid details.  Diana, while beautiful of course, seemed to behave in ways that combined wild and odd "good works" acts with willful selfishness and apparent self-aggrandizement.  Prince Charles, on the other hand, seemed like an increasingly weird cipher -- a person who, having never having lived a normal life, seemed utterly  unhinged from it.

I followed Diana's death details also, the biggest news event of its time, like a bomb dropping, learning of it early on a morning like this one (but much warmer), switching on my computer to see if the world still existed, and then the television.  Visiting London on business the day following her funeral, I was astonished by the palpable shock and grief, which affected even my most cynical English friends, but especially by  the physical scale and profound depth of the flowers in front of Kensington Palace.  Still, the endless repetition of the events, heavy voices and blabbering pundit faces, left a lasting impression of an enigma wrapped in not much of a riddle,  sound and fury signifying nothing.

I was surprised, therefore -- floored, really -- to read Diana's own first-person account of her life, which Andrew Morton used as the source material for his biography, which was subsequently published in an updated edition of the book after previously existing only sub-rosa.  It absolutely and shockingly speaks in a real voice and tells an astonishing and sad-to- the-point-of-tragic story exceedingly well.  I thank my mother for including it in her library and my wife Caroline for directing my attention to it.  I think Oscar Wilde, Ronald Firbank, Henry Green, Graham Greene and W.H. Auden would all be riveted reading it.  You will be also.

No comments:

Post a Comment