Monday 18 November 2019

A marriage in crisis, her sex life, and 'that' affair: 'Dynamite' Diana tapes to be aired for first time

Charles and Diana announce their engagement in 1981 Photo: PA Wire
Charles and Diana announce their engagement in 1981 Photo: PA Wire
Princess Diana and Prince Charles
The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral in London, 29th July 1981. The couple leave the cathedral after the ceremony. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Princess Diana And Prince Charles watch an official event during their first royal Australian tour 1983 IN Newcastle, Austrlia. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

Victoria Ward

Controversial taped confessions made by Princess Diana are to be broadcast for the first time after her sons' decision to open up about her was deemed to have set a precedent.

Peter Settelen, the princess's voice coach, has sold the rights to the "dynamite" tapes, much of which has never been broadcast, to Channel 4.

The tapes were never intended for public broadcast and since the princess's death have been the subject of lengthy legal battles and accusations of huge betrayal.

The Spencer family insisted the footage belonged to them but the tapes were returned to Mr Settelen in 2004 after a lengthy dispute, headed by the princess's brother Charles Spencer.

Princess Diana And Prince Charles watch an official event during their first royal Australian tour 1983 IN Newcastle, Austrlia. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)
Princess Diana And Prince Charles watch an official event during their first royal Australian tour 1983 IN Newcastle, Austrlia. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

Although the camcorder recordings were ostensibly made to improve her public speaking, the emotional princess used them to bare her soul at a time when her marriage was in crisis, talking openly about her relationship with Prince Charles, their sex life and his affair with the then Camilla Parker Bowles.

She describes her wedding day as "the worst day of her life" and the constant battle to live up to her "fairy princess" public image. She also suggests a royal protection officer - presumed to be Barry Mannakee - had been "bumped off" in a road accident.

The tapes were found in 2001 during a police raid at the home of Paul Burrell, the former royal butler. Their content was regarded as so sensitive that the prosecution agreed not to use them in Mr Burrell's Old Bailey trial which collapsed in 2002.

Excerpts of the footage, made over several sessions at Kensington Palace in 1992 and 1993, were sold to US network NBC and broadcast in America as part of a two-part documentary in 2004. But the screening caused such controversy that the tapes have never been seen in Britain.

Teddy Taylor, then Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, appealed to broadcasters' "sense of decency" not to air the tapes while the princess's sons were still alive.

The documentary includes footage that has never before been shown in public.

The rights were obtained by Channel 4 amid claims Prince William and Prince Harry's decision to talk openly about their mother made it more acceptable.

The right to broadcast a few minutes of the intimate footage was bought by the BBC in 2007 for a reputed £30,000 and formed the basis of a documentary, 'Diana, In Her Own Words', that was due to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles
Princess Diana and Prince Charles

But the project was shelved, despite filming and production said to have cost upwards of £100,000, amid claims that it would be deemed in bad taste.

Freelance producer and director Kevin Sim, who oversaw the BBC film, was commissioned by Channel 4 to make the new film, also called 'Diana: In Her Own Words'.

Mr Sim has previously described the tapes as "dynamite" and claimed the BBC axed the documentary because it was worried about upsetting the monarchy.

The BBC said the decision was made because the tapes did not "add" anything to the princess's story.

In the recordings, the princess says she and Prince Charles only met 13 times before they married.

She adds: "He'd ring me up every day for a week and then he wouldn't speak to me for three weeks. Very odd.

"And the thrill when he used to ring up was so immense and intense."

She says of her sex life with the prince that "there was never a requirement for it from him. Once every three weeks about and I kept thinking it followed a pattern. He used to see his lady once every three weeks before we got married."

Describing her thoughts as the relationship reached crisis point, she says: "If I could write my own script I would have my husband go away with his woman and never come back."

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said it had informed Kensington Palace it plans to air excerpts "in a contextualised historical framework at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death".

Irish Independent

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