Twenty five years ago, the royal family was plunged into the most extraordinary crisis since the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 when a devastating book, Diana: Her True Story, by the journalist Andrew Morton was published.
The book contained devastating revelations concerning the royal family’s dismissive reaction to Diana’s bulimia and the extent to which she had been betrayed by her husband over his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, which had been going on since before they were married and continued uninterrupted by the marriage.
The furor surrounding the book was matched by a frenzied attempt to discover who Morton’s source for his inside information had been.
Only later would it emerge that his source was none other than Diana herself.
However, she had never met Morton. Instead, she recorded a series of audio tapes that were passed via an intermediary to Morton.
Now, transcripts of those tapes have been published in an anniversary edition of the book, which is being serialized in the U.K. by the Daily Mail, and they present an extraordinary, unvarnished insight into Diana’s tormented state of mind as she wrestled with duty, an unfaithful husband, and a devastating eating disorder.
In one of the first extracts published this weekend in the Mail, the detail is finally revealed on one of the most celebrated stories of romantic outrage: that Charles sent Camilla a bracelet just days before his wedding to Diana engraved with their pet names for each other (Gladys and Fred).
On the tape, Diana says: “The first thing that hit me was my [future] husband sending Camilla Parker Bowles flowers when she had meningitis: ‘To Gladys from Fred’” adding, “I once heard him on the telephone in his bath on his hand-held set, saying: ‘Whatever happens, I will always love you.’
“I told him afterwards that I had listened at the door, and we had a filthy row.”
Then Diana says that “somebody in his office told me that my husband had had a bracelet made for her, which she wears to this day. It’s a gold chain bracelet with a blue enamel disc. It’s got ‘G and F’ entwined in it, ‘Gladys’ and ‘Fred.’
“I walked into this man’s office one day and said: ‘Oh, what’s in that parcel?’
“He said: ‘Oh, you shouldn’t look at that.’
“I said: ‘Well, I’m going to look at it.’
“I opened it, and there was [the] bracelet, and I said: ‘I know where this is going.’ I was devastated. This was about two weeks before we got married.”
Diana later says: “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. You never knew what mood it was going to be—up and down, up and down.”
Diana also says that her bulimia started “the week after we got engaged.”
“My husband put his hand on my waistline and said: ‘Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’ and that triggered off something in me. And the Camilla thing. I was desperate, desperate. I remember the first time I made myself sick. I was so thrilled because I thought this was the release of tension.
“The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29 inches around the waist. The day I got married, I was 23½ inches. I had shrunk into nothing from February to July. I had shrunk to nothing.”
In the extract published in the Mail today Diana reveals that she made her first suicide attempt just weeks after the wedding, slashing her wrists when they were staying at Balmoral in Scotland.
“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.”