‘I tried to cut my wrists just weeks after the wedding’: Secret tapes in which Princess Diana poured out her despair reveal how terrifyingly quickly her fairytale marriage unravelled
In 1991, few people knew the truth about Princess Diana’s marriage: that it was falling apart… and that Charles had rekindled his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Devastated, she decided to make her side of the story public by recording her thoughts for author Andrew Morton via a go-between. Her one condition: that her involvement be kept a strict secret.
The book he wrote — Diana: Her True Story — caused a sensation. Now, 20 years after her death, it is being republished, with transcripts of those tapes.
Our second extract begins just two days before her wedding on July 29, 1981 — which was watched by a global TV audience of 750 million.
We got married on Wednesday. On the Monday (July 27, 1981), we had gone to St Paul’s for our last rehearsal, and that’s when the camera lights were on full and I got a sense of what the day was going to be.
And I sobbed my eyes out. I absolutely collapsed and it was because of all sorts of things. The Camilla thing rearing its head the whole way through our engagement.
I was desperately trying to be mature about the situation, but I didn’t have the foundations to do it, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it.
I remember my husband being very tired — both of us were quite tired. Big day.
He sent me a very nice signet ring the night before to Clarence House, with the Prince of Wales feathers on and a very nice card that said: ‘I’m so proud of you and when you come up, I’ll be there at the altar for you tomorrow. Just look ’em in the eye and knock ’em dead.’
As I walked up the aisle, I was looking for Camilla. I knew she was in there
I had a very bad fit of bulimia the night before. I ate everything I could possibly find which amused my sister (Jane) because she was staying at Clarence House with me.
Nobody understood what was going on there. It was very hush-hush. I was sick as a parrot that night. It was such an indication of what was going on.
I was very calm the next morning when we were getting up at Clarence House. Must have been awake about 5am. Interesting — they put me in a bedroom overlooking the Mall, which meant I didn’t get any sleep.
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. My last night of freedom with Jane at Clarence House.
On the day, there was great anticipation. Happiness because the crowds buoyed you up — but I don’t think I was happy.
Father (still suffering from the after-effects of a massive stroke) was so thrilled, he waved himself stupid. We went past St Martin-in-the-Fields and he thought we were at St Paul’s. He was ready to get out. It was wonderful, that.
As I walked up the aisle, I was looking for her (Camilla). I knew she was in there, of course. I looked for her.
I had to get my father basically up the aisle and that’s what I concentrated on. And I remember being terribly worried about curtseying to the Queen.
Anyway, I got up to the top. I thought the whole thing was hysterical, getting married, in the sense that it was just so grown-up, and here was Diana — a kindergarten teacher. The whole thing was ridiculous!
I remember being so in love with my husband that I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I just absolutely thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. He was going to look after me. Well, was I wrong on that assumption!
So walking back down the aisle, I spotted Camilla — pale grey, veiled pillbox hat, saw it all, her son Tom standing on a chair. To this day, you know — vivid memory.
When we got out, it was a wonderful feeling: everybody hurraying, everybody happy because they thought we were happy. And there was the big question mark in my mind. I realised I had taken on an enormous role, but had no idea what I was going into — but no idea.
Back to Buckingham Palace, did all the photographs. Nothing tactile, nothing.
I was basically wandering around, trying to find where I should be, clutching my long train with my bridesmaids and pages.
We got out on the balcony. It was overwhelming what we saw, so humble-making, all these thousands and thousands of people happy. It was just wonderful. I sat next to Charles at the wedding breakfast, which was a lunch. Neither of us spoke to each other — we were so shattered. I was exhausted at the whole thing.
I never tried to call the wedding off in the sense of really doing that. But the worst moment was when we got to Broadlands (the family seat of Charles’s late great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, where the royal couple spent the first part of their honeymoon).
I thought, you know, it was just grim. I just had tremendous hope in me, which was slashed by day two.
We went to Broadlands. Second night, out come the van der Post books he hadn’t read (Laurens van der Post, the South African philosopher and adventurer, was much admired by Prince Charles). Seven of them — they came on our honeymoon. He read them and we had to analyse them over lunch every day.
(On the second leg of the honeymoon, aboard the royal yacht) we had to entertain all the top people on Britannia every night, so there was never any time on our own. Found that very difficult to accept.
The yacht was manned by 21 officers and 256 men. Evening meals were black-tie affairs, attended by selected officers. And while everyone ate, a Royal Marine band played in an adjoining room.
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 one would be happy, the 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.
We survived that all right. Then 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.
I was obsessed by Camilla totally. I didn’t trust (Charles) — thought every five minutes he was ringing her up, asking how to handle his marriage.
Charles got Laurens van der Post up to come and help me. Laurens didn’t understand me. Everybody 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. All the guests at Balmoral coming to stay just stared at me the whole time, treated me like glass. As far as I was concerned, I was Diana — the only difference was people called me ‘Ma’am’ now, ‘Your Royal Highness’, and they curtsied. That was the only difference, but I treated everybody else exactly the same.
Charles used to want to go for long walks around Balmoral the whole time. His idea of enjoyment — this will make you laugh —would be to sit on top of the highest hill at Balmoral. It is beautiful up there. I completely understand; he would read Laurens van der Post or (Swiss psychoanalyst) Carl Jung to me. And bear in mind I hadn’t a clue about psychic powers or anything, but I knew there was something in me that hadn’t been awoken yet — and I didn’t think this was going to help!
So anyway, we read those and I did my tapestry and he was blissfully happy, and as far as he was happy, that was fine.
He was in awe of his Mama, intimidated by his father, and I was always the third person in the room. It was never: ‘Darling, would you like a drink?’ It was always: ‘Mummy, would you like a drink?’ ‘Granny, would you like a drink?’ ‘Diana, would you like a drink?’
Fine, no problem. But I had to be told that that was normal because I always thought it was the wife first — stupid thought!
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.
I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades. It rained and rained and rained.
I came down early (to London) to seek treatment, not because I hated Balmoral, but because I was in such a bad way.
I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades
Anyway, I came down here. All the analysts and psychiatrists you could ever dream of came plodding in trying to sort me out. Put me on high doses of Valium and everything else.
But the Diana that was still very much there had decided just time, patience and adapting were all that were needed. It was me telling them what I needed.
They were telling me ‘pills’! That was going to keep them happy — they could go to bed at night and sleep, knowing the Princess of Wales wasn’t going to stab anyone.
Anyway, a godsend, William was conceived in October. I was told I was pregnant, fine, great excitement. Marvellous news, occupied my mind. In those days, my greatest pleasure was that I was lucky enough to have a baby on the way.
Then we went to Wales for three days (in October 1981) to do our visit as Princess and Prince of Wales. Boy, oh boy, was that a culture shock in every sense of the word.
Wrong clothes, wrong everything, wrong timing, feeling terribly sick, carrying this child, hadn’t told the world I was pregnant but looking grey and gaunt and still being sick.
I was desperately trying to make Charles proud of me. Made a speech in Welsh. He was more nervous than I was. Never got any praise for it. I began to understand that that was absolutely normal.
Sick as a parrot, it rained the whole time round Wales. It wasn’t easy, I cried a lot in the car, saying I couldn’t get out, couldn’t cope with the crowds.’
He said: ‘You’ve just got to get out and do it.’ So I just got out. He tried his hardest and he did really well in that department, got me out — and once I was out, I was able to do my bit.
But it cost me such a lot because I hadn’t got the energy because I was being sick with my bulimia — so much.
I couldn’t sleep, didn’t eat, whole world was collapsing around me. Very, very difficult pregnancy indeed. Sick the whole time, bulimia and morning sickness.
People tried to put me on pills to stop me from being sick. I refused to risk the child becoming handicapped as a result. So sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.
And this family’s never had anybody who’s had morning sickness before, so every time at Balmoral, Sandringham or Windsor in my evening dress I had to go out, I either fainted or was sick.
It was so embarrassing because I didn’t know anything because I hadn’t read my (pregnancy) books, but I knew it was morning sickness because you just do.
So I was ‘a problem’ and they registered Diana as ‘a problem’. ‘She’s different, she’s doing everything that we never did. Why? Poor Charles is having such a hard time.’
Meanwhile, he decided he couldn’t suggest too much.
With Harry the morning sickness wasn’t so bad. With William, it was appalling: almost every time I stood up, I was sick.
I couldn’t define what triggered it off, but obviously I felt it was a nuisance to the set-up — and I was made to feel it was a nuisance to the set-up.
Suddenly, in the middle of a black dress and black-tie do, I would go out to be sick and come back again, and they’d say: ‘Why didn’t she go off to bed?’
I felt it was my duty to sit at the table. Duty was all over the shop. I didn’t know which way to turn at all.
I was ‘a problem’ and they registered Diana as ‘a problem’
There was only ever one cancellation when I was carrying William: the visit to the Duchy of Cornwall’s estate. And I was made to feel so guilty by my husband for that.
This myth about me hating Balmoral — I love Scotland, but just the atmosphere drains me to nothing.
I go up ‘strong Diana’. I come away depleted of everything, because they just suck me dry, because I tune in to all their moods — and, boy, are there some undercurrents there!
Instead of having a holiday, it’s the most stressful time of the year. It’s very close quarters.
I panic a lot when I go up to Balmoral. It’s my worst time, and I think: ‘How the hell am I going to get out of this?’
The first couple of days, I’m frightfully chirpy when I get up there and everything’s wonderful. By the third day, they’re sapping me again.
There are so many negative atmospheres. That house sucks one dry. But I come back down to London to see someone, and I’ll go back the same day. And it will be like an injection, a replenishment coming into my set-up.
I say to myself: ‘I am normal, it’s OK to be me, it’s all right. You’re going back to work soon, going to be back in your own home; you go back up there again and try and perform.’
My grandma (Ruth, the late Lady Fermoy) always said to me: ‘Darling, you must understand that their sense of humour and their lifestyle are different, and I don’t think it will suit you.’
When I didn’t include her (in the later stages of wedding preparations) she got hurt, so out came the Valium. She’s been on Valium ever since.
My mother let me down terribly with the wedding. She kept crying and being all valiant and saying that she couldn’t cope with the pressure.
I tended to think that I was the one under pressure, because I was the bride. So I didn’t speak to her for three or four years afterwards.
Source: DAILYMAIL MAILONLINE
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