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  • 16.08.2017
Diana: ‘I threw myself down the stairs’
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16.08.2017

Diana: ‘I threw myself down the stairs’

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TALK about a voice from the grave.
As the 20th anniversary of death of Diana, Princess of Wales looms, a documentary voiced by Diana herself details her breakdown, confronting her husband’s mistress, her fight with bulimia and the death of her marriage.
Confusing the issue is the fact there are two documentaries of the same name. Diana: In Her Own Words. Both use secret tapes of Diana spiling on her marriage.
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The first, the work of Britain’s Channel 4, featuring taped sessions between Diana and her voice coach, Peter Settelen has caused worldwide furore, with Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, begging the broadcaster not to air intimate details of his sister’s sex life.
The second documentary, to air in Australia on August 15 on National Geographic TV, uses audio recordings Diana gave in secret and smuggled out of Kensington Palace in 1991 to journalist Andrew Morton.
They formed the basis of his 1992 book: Diana: Her True Story which lifted the veil on her troubled marriage to Prince Charles.
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The tapes were recorded with Diana’s close friend, Dr James Colthurst, who would arrive with handwritten questions from Morton. The revelations may not be new, but to hear them told in her own voice is haunting.
Diana tells her side of the story, revealing a soul tortured by bulimia, crippled with self-doubt, and breaking down amid the pressure of a very public role and a marriage in tatters as the public believed her life was a fairy tale.
This is Diana, as she saw it:
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MEETING CHARLES
“I remember being a fat, podgy, non-makeup, unsmart lady but I made a lot of noise and he liked that,” she says of meeting him at 16.
At 18, they met again, not long after he had walked alone down the aisle of St Paul’s cathedral at a recent funeral.
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“I said my heart bled for you as I watched. I thought ‘this is wrong you are lonely You should be with somebody to look after you’, she says.
“And the next minute he leapt on me, practically. It was strange. I thought ‘this isn’t very cool’ … but I had nothing to go by because I’d never had a boyfriend.
“All my friends had boyfriends, but not me. I knew I had to keep myself tidy, for whatever was coming my way.”
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“WHATEVER LOVE MEANS”
“He sat me down and said ‘will you marry me?’
“I thought the whole thing was hysterical, getting married. It was so grown up. And I laughed. I remember thinking ‘this is a joke’. And he was deadly serious.”
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She said yes.
“I said I love you so much, I love you so much. He said: ‘‘whatever love means’.”
“I thought he was very much in love with me … which he was … It sort of had the besotted look about it. But it wasn’t the genuine sort.”
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MEDIA SCRUTINY
Diana’s words about the media frenzy which began as soon as their relationship was public were to prove chillingly prophetic.
“Any chases involving the media in the car?” Colthurst asks of those days when Diana would be under siege as soon as she left her shared flat.
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“Oh lots of them. I always made sure that I went through just as the light was going to red. They chased me everywhere. We’re talking 30 of them. We’re not talking about two,” she says.
“I had no idea what I was going into.
“I never complained about the press to him because I didn’t think it was my position to do so. I got no support from Charles and no support from the press office. They just said you’re on your own.
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“When I first arrived on the scene I always put my head down. I was just so frightened of the attention I was getting.
“Because I had a smile on my face everybody thought I was having a wonderful time.
“That’s what they chose to think and they were happier thinking that.
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“It didn’t get easier. I just got used to what people required from the Princess of Wales.”
CAMILLA PARKER-BOWLES
Before she and Charles were even engaged, Diana knew there was ‘somebody else around’.
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They’d been staying at the Parker-Bowles country home “quite a lot”.
“She knew so much about what he was doing privately. Eventually I worked it all out,” Diana says.
““I once heard him on the telephone saying ‘whatever happens I’ll always love you’. And I told him I’d listened at the door. We had a filthy row.”
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During their engagement, pictures flashed around the world of Diana in a red coat, crying at the airport as Charles left on a five-week tour.
“That was nothing to do with him going,” she says.
“The most awful thing had happened before he went.
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“I was in his study talking to him about his trip. The telephone rang. It was Camilla. Just before he was going for five weeks. And it just broke my heart, that.
Moving into an empty Clarence House before the wedding, Diana was met not by a human, but a letter from Camilla saying ‘”such exciting news about the engagement. Do let’s have lunch soon. Love to see the ring. Lots of love, Camilla’,” says Diana
“And that was … wow.
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“So we had lunch and … very tricky, very tricky indeed.
“She said ‘you’re not going to hunt, are you?’ I said ‘no’. She said: “I just wanted to know that”.
Moving into an empty Clarence House before the wedding, Diana was met not by a human, but a letter from Camilla saying ‘”such exciting news about the engagement. Do let’s have lunch soon. Love to see the ring. Lots of love, Camilla’,” says Diana
“And that was … wow.
“So we had lunch and … very tricky, very tricky indeed.
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“She said ‘you’re not going to hunt, are you?’ I said ‘no’. She said: “I just wanted to know that”.
“As far as she was concerned that was her communication. I was still too immature to understand all the messages coming my way.”
“THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB”
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Before the wedding, Diana discovered a bracelet Charles had had made for Camilla.
“I was devastated. So rage, rage, rage. Why can’t you be honest with me?” she says.
“But no, (Charles) absolutely cut me dead. It was as if he’d made his decision and if it wasn’t going to work it wasn’t going to work.
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“He’d found the virgin, the sacrificial lamb and in a way he was obsessed with me but it was hot and cold, hot and cold.
“Upstairs, she said to her sister ““I can’t marry him. I can’t do this. This is absolutely unbelievable.”
The reply? “Bad luck Dutch. Your face is on the tea towel, so you’re too late to chicken out.”
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BULIMIA
“The bulimia started the week before we got engaged. My husband put his hand on my waistline and said ‘ooh bit chubby there, aren’t we?’. And that triggered off something in me,” Diana says.
“The first time I made myself sick I felt so thrilled. I thought this is the release, the tension.”
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Her waist was 29 inches when she was first measured for her wedding dress. It was 23-and-a-half the day she married: “I’d shrunk into nothing”.
The night before the wedding she ate “everything I could possibly find”.
“I was sick as a parrot that night. Next morning, about 5am, I was deathly, deathly calm.”
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On their honeymoon the bulimia was “rife: four times a day on the yacht”.
“Anything I could find I would gobble up and be sick two minutes later”.
“The public wanted a fairy princess. Little did they realise that the fairy princess was crucifying herself inside because she didn’t think she was good enough.”
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THE WEDDING
“I was a lamb to the slaughter, and I knew it,” she says.
“Walking down the aisle I sported Camilla, and I thought ‘there we are let’s hope that’s all over with’.
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“I had tremendous hope in me … which was slashed, by day two.
Charles took “eight books to read on their honeymoon” for times they were on their own “but we were never on our own”.
“I remember crying my heart out on the honeymoon. I was so tired. For all the wrong reasons.”
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The spectre of Camilla, she said, was ever present: he opened his diary to schedule something, and “out popped two pictures of Camilla”
When a pair of cufflinks appeared on his wrists during the honeymoon — with to ‘C’s intertwined — he said “what’s wrong, they’re a present from a friend’
MELTING DOWN
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By October, 1981, back Balmoral “I was about to cut my wrists,” she says.
“Analysts and psychiatrists tried to sort me out.
They gave her Valium. “Got to keep them happy,” she says bitterly.
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“They could go to bed at night and sleep knowing the Princess of Wales wasn’t going to stab anyone”.
WILLIAM
William was conceived in October, and she was delighted. But morning sickness added to her weak state.
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That “fall” down the stairs while pregnant made world headlines. Diana pulls no punches.
“I threw myself down the stairs,” she says.
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“Charles said I was crying wolf, and I just felt so desperate and I was crying my eyes out and he said ‘I’m not going to listen, you are always doing this to me … I’m going riding now’. So I threw myself down the stairs.
“Queen comes out, horrified, shaking, so frightened. And Charles went out riding. And when he came back it was just dismissal.
“William had to be induced because I couldn’t handle the press any longer. It was becoming unbearable.”
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“IT’S TOTAL DARKNESS … SUCH PAIN”
She loved her son, but suffered Post Natal depression.
“Between William and Harry being born, it’s total darkness. I can’t remember. I’ve blotted it out. It was such pain,” she says.
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Dr Mitchell came in every evening at 6 o’clock and I had to explain to him about my conversations with my husband during the day. There weren’t many conversations. It was more tears than anything else.”
“On the outside people were saying I was giving my husband such a hard time, I was acting like a spoiled child. But I knew that I was just needed rest and patience and time to adapt to all the roles that were required of me overnight.”
Later, Diana would confess to several suicide attempts.
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“IT JUST WENT ... BANG”
“Harry appeared by a miracle. Charles and I were very, very close to each other the six weeks before Harry was born. The closest we’ve ever, ever been and ever will have been,” she says.
“And suddenly, as Harry was born (in September 1984), it just went ‘bang’.
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“Our marriage. The whole thing went down the drain”.
They limped on. She fought bulimia, on a couple of occasions cut herself.
In May 1986, the bulimia came into sharp world focus when she fainted in public during a tour of America.
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They had been walking around for four hours.
“No food, presumably I hadn’t eaten for days before that — by that I mean food staying down,” she says.
“I felt ghastly and didn’t tell anyone because they would think I was whingeing.
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“I put my arm on my husband and said ‘darling I think I’m about to disappear’, and slid down the side of him. My husband told me off. And told me I could have passed out quietly somewhere.”
CONFRONTING CAMILLA
Invited to Camilla’s sister’s 40th birthday “where nobody expected me to turn up”, a voice in Diana’s head said “just go for the hell of it”.
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As they drove there, Charles asked relentlessly why she was coming.
Chatting with guests upstairs, she realised Camilla and Charles were absent.
She decided to go downstairs, “knowing what I’ll find”, despite warnings of “Diana, don’t go down there”.
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“I said ‘Camilla I’d love to have a word with you if possible”.
“She looked uncomfortable, ducked her head.
“We sat down and I was terrified of her.
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“I said ‘Camilla I would just like you to know that I know exactly what’s going on … between you and Charles.”
“Camilla said: “You’ve got everything you’ve ever wanted. All the men in the world fall in love with you. You’ve got two beautiful children, what more would you want?’.
Diana replied: “I want my husband”.
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“I’m sorry I’m in the way and I obviously am in the way and it must be hell for both of you. But I do know what’s going on. Don’t treat me like an idiot.”
It took seven years to speak up and Diana felt a shift — “anger and jealousy still there but not so deathly as it had been before”.
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BEYOND SAVING
The May, 1992 release of Morton’s book created a media firestorm, exposing the affairs of both Diana and Charles, and her suicidal unhappiness.
Leaked tapes of phone conversations between Charles and Camilla and Diana and her lovers did neither party any favours.
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In December 1992, British Prime Minister John Major announced the couples “amicable separation”.
They divorced in 1996.
In one of her last taped conversations for the Morton book in 1992, Diana was asked what she hoped would happen.
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“If I was able to write my own script I would say that I hope my husband would go off with his lady and sort that out and leave me and the children to carry the Wales name through to the time when William ascends the throne,” she said.
“And I’d be behind them all the way and I can do this job so much better on my own. I don’t feel trapped.”
She also ventured it might be “quite nice to go and do things like a weekend in Paris”.
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“I know one day if I play the game of life I will be able to have those things which I’ve always pined for,” she said.
“And they’ll be that much more special because I’ll be that much older and be able to appreciate them that much more”.
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