30 years since the day Lady Di set Buckingham on fire with a book: infidelities, suicide attempts, bulimia and depression

On the morning of June 15, 1992, Diana of Wales attended with her husband, Prince Charles, the traditional investiture ceremony of the Order of the Garter at Windsor Castle. The princess barely raised her eyes from the floor during the act, hiding her face under a large pamela matching her cream Catherine Walker dress. Many interpreted her attitude as a sign of shame at the rumors of crisis surrounding the royal couple. But under Lady Di’s hat there was also a slight smile. It was a gesture of satisfaction. That very morning she had gone on sale Diana, her true storyAndrew Morton’s book that recounted in detail Spencer’s unhappy life in the palace: infidelities, suicide attempts, bulimia nervosa, depression…

Morton’s book, which is now 30 years old, narrated all kinds of details about the married life of the princes of Wales. The most controversial chapter was the one that revealed that Diana had tried to take her own life up to five times during the eighties. The claims about the emotional instability of the future queen of England unleashed a media, social and political storm. Buckingham Palace did not comment on any of the revelations, but within hours of publication it clarified that the princess had not cooperated “in any way” with her biography.

It was a publishing success from day one. The first edition, of more than 100,000 copies, sold out in a few hours. However, the book was received by the press with some disbelief. The princes of Wales continued their lives with apparent normality, which sowed more doubts about the veracity of the work. In the days following publication, Charles and Diana attended the Ascot races together and the wedding of Lady Helen Windsor and Tim Taylor. Morton had to come out to deny that his book was based on hearsay, explaining that he had interviewed numerous sources close to the princess. “It’s not gossip. It’s what the Princess of Wales has told her friends about what happened to her in the 1980s. Her last suicide attempt was in 1986,″ she said. Despite the pressure, the author did not reveal what was still a secret: the princess had helped him write Diana, her true story.

the secret tapes

Lady Di began planning her revenge against Carlos and the monarchy in early 1991. Tired of her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, she decided that the people should listen to her side of the story. But the British couldn’t hear it directly from her mouth. That’s why she contacted Morton, who had been wanting to write a book about her for years. In May ’91, Diana began recording her innermost thoughts on a series of audio tapes. Her friend, Dr. James Colthurst, a prestigious Irish surgeon, was in charge of taking Morton’s questions to Kensington Palace. The princess recorded her responses on secret tapes. Colthurst, who had met Lady Di when she was working as a nanny, delivered them by bicycle to the reporter and writer.

The journalist used to listen to the tapes in cafeterias, bars or public places so as not to arouse suspicion. Amid the hubbub, he took notes on Diana’s most intimate confessions. “When I turned on the recorder and heard the princess talking about bulimia nervosa, which she had never heard of; talking about her suicide attempts; talking about a woman named Camilla Parker-Bowles… It was like entering a parallel universe. I left the cafeteria thinking: ‘wowwhat the hell have I heard,” Morton explained in 2017, when he published an updated edition of his book, Diana, her true story. In her own words.

A cover of 'Diana: Her True Story', by Andrew Morton.
A cover of ‘Diana: Her True Story’, by Andrew Morton.

In early 1992, a few months before the biography was published, Diana lost her father, Earl John Spencer. Before dying, the aristocrat collaborated with Morton and gave him private photographs of his daughter. At that time the princess wrote a letter to her friend Colthurst in which she anticipated the storm that the book would unleash. But she, too, spoke of the relief she felt at being able to tell her story to the world. “Obviously we are preparing for the eruption of the volcano and I feel better equipped to deal with whatever comes our way,” Diana said in the letter, which Morton quoted in the updated 2017 biography. “Thank you for believing in me and for taking the trouble to understand this mind. It’s a great relief not to be alone anymore. Now I feel like it’s okay to be me, ”the princess acknowledged her friend.

the end of the story

The publication of Diana, her true story, on June 15, 1992, not only freed Lady Di from her ghosts, but also from her stormy married life. Shortly after the editorial release, the princess acknowledged that she had asked friends and family to cooperate with Morton. On December 9, 1992, just six months after the biography hit bookstores, Prime Minister John Major read a statement from the Prince and Princess of Wales announcing their separation after 11 years of marriage in a nationally televised address. Major told the House of Commons that the couple had made the decision “amicably” and had no plans to divorce.

“The succession to the throne is not affected; the children of the prince and princess retain their position in the line of succession; and there is no reason why the Princess of Wales should not be crowned queen in her own due time,” the Conservative premier concluded.

Andrew Morton, during the presentation of a biography of Meghan Markle in April 2018.
Andrew Morton, during the presentation of a biography of Meghan Markle in April 2018.MARCELA GUTIERREZ (NOTIMEX/Newscom / Cordon Press)

For the next three years, Lady Di maintained an intimate but also media war with her husband, perhaps in the hope that he would give up Camilla. The opposite happened. Carlos took refuge in his then lover. In late 1995, the princess gave an interview to the BBC in which she confirmed everything she had already told Morton in her secret tapes. And then she said the famous phrase: “In my marriage there are three of us and that’s a crowd.” More than 23 million viewers heard her confession. A few weeks later, on Christmas Eve, the Queen of England took matters into her own hands and ordered the couple to divorce immediately. Their “amicable” and final break-up agreement was announced in July 1995.

Diana, her true story, the book that many questioned, became a worldwide bestseller. More than seven million copies were sold in 80 countries. Its author became a millionaire. In 1997, after the princess’s death in a car accident, Morton revealed that Lady Di had been the true source of her, along with members of her inner circle who had spoken of her at her behest. The work of the English journalist is a memory unique in its kind, not only for its content but also for the intimate participation of the protagonist of the story in its elaboration. Never before had a royal spoken so clearly about her unhappiness in her palace. No one has tried again.

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