The Big Fight
Battle Royale: Inside Camilla and Diana’s Bitter Feud
The two women in Prince Charles’ life fought a bitter battle to paint each other in the worst possible light, a new book reveals.
Prince Charles was “paralyzed by guilt” after his wife, Princess Diana, was killed in a Paris car crash, and one of the queen’s courtiers claimed that William and Harry were “critical of him for what had happened to their mother,” according to a shocking new book that is making headlines across the U.K. this week.
Tom Bower’s unflattering biography of Prince Charles, Rebel Prince, has been serialized in the Daily Mail. The book paints Prince Charles as a petulant and demanding man, who once sent a truck with his bed and various furnishings, including pictures and side tables, to be installed in a host’s guest room before he arrived.
The book has also provided a devastating portrait of relations between the queen and Charles’s second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, with whom he had a romantic relationship before, during, and after his marriage to Diana.
Bower reported that years later, the queen and her husband were still so furious that Camilla and Charles had continued their romance while he was married to Diana—including in the early days of the marriage—that the queen refused to even speak to Camilla at the party to celebrate her marriage to his son.
The latest extract in the Daily Mail explores the battle between Camilla and Diana.
When Princess Diana made her move against Camilla Parker Bowles, she did so under the glare of television lights. Lowering her kohl-rimmed eyes and gazing sadly at the camera, she explained there were “three of us in the marriage,” so it had become “quite crowded.”
Camilla fought back in less dramatic but just as effective ways, the Mail says.
Camilla’s key operative in her battle to win the hearts and minds of the British public was Charles’ spin doctor Mark Bolland, whom, the book claims, was hired on the recommendation Camilla’s divorce lawyer.
Bolland was made Charles’ assistant private secretary, but there was never any question that his No. 1 job was to rehabilitate Camilla in the public mind.
He became Charles and Camilla’s most important consigliere for a seven year spell, and developed a reputation as a Machiavellian press manipulator.
Bolland has been the subject of many unflattering reports and profiles over the years. A BBC documentary in 2015 detailed how he and Charles leaked stories that were damaging to William and Harry and upset them in order to improve his own image.
One of these concerned a story that Harry had smoked marijuana.
Bolland reportedly cooked up a deal to confirm the story to the press, on condition they reported that Charles had taken his son to a drug rehab clinic to educate him on the dangers of drugs after “discovering” his drug use.
In 1998, when William met Camilla for the first time, Charles and Bolland leaked all the details to the press, to William’s great distress.
Bower claims Camilla advised Bolland: “Never push Charles too hard. Always remember his terrible childhood, and how he was bullied at school and by his parents.”
The plan to rehabilitate Camilla was moving smoothly along until Diana was killed in a car crash in a Paris underpass in 1997.
Bower writes: “In the hours after the princess’s death, he was paralyzed by guilt. One of the queen’s courtiers claimed that even his sons were critical of him for what had happened to their mother.”
Charles, Bower says, was “chanting”: “They’re all going to blame me, aren’t they? The world’s going to go completely mad.”
Bolland’s master plan to rehabilitate Camilla was suspended immediately; instead, she adopted a hugely reduced profile and tried to stay out of the press.
At the beginning of 1999, 17 months after the Paris crash, Charles could wait no longer.
He told Bolland, “Let’s risk the biscuit,” Bower reports.
Bolland duly leaked their location to the press and they were photographed together for the first time, at the door of the Ritz Hotel in London.