The new season of The Crown, to put it delicately, is giving Prince Charles the worst press of his life since Tampongate: Despite being previously portrayed as a bumbling, soft-spoken lad who wants to marry Camilla Parker Bowles in season three, he’s now a bumbling, short-tempered asshole who still wants to marry Camilla Parker Bowles in season four. (He’s also bad at fishing.) This personality switch accelerates during his ill-fated romance and marriage to Diana Spencer, who captivated the world with her wispy bangs and glamorous “people’s princess” aura while Charles was often relegated to the sidelines — which drove them both to numerous years of well-publicized adultery. Diana, however, suffered additional behind-the-scenes turmoil. The Crown depicts her as an isolated young woman struggling with bulimia, who’s also freely mocked by numerous members of the royal family for her lack of intellectual curiosity and adaptability.
What some people may not know, however, is that Princess Diana got her early revenge by cooperating with the 1992 tell-all book Diana: Her True Story. Penned by Andrew Morton, the writer gained the trust of Diana over the years, and was able to interview her by utilizing their mutual friend, James Colthurst, as a proxy. In 1991, Colthurst conducted six taped interviews with Diana asking her Morton’s questions, all of which were successfully covert and never aroused much suspicion within the palace. As Morton wrote, the interviews “would ultimately change the way the world saw the princess and the royal family forever” when the book was first published, despite numerous retailers banning it from the shelves. It was only after Diana’s death that Morton revealed the full extent of her involvement, reformatting Her True Story as an edited transcript of the interviews. “Her words are now all we have of her, her testament, the nearest we will now ever get to her autobiography,” Morton puts it.
Read on for the most upsetting and depressing stories that Diana, in her own words, revealed about her time with the royal family in Her True Story. A few of them even confirm certain Crown plots from this season.
Diana says her first meeting with Charles was underwhelming
“The first impact was ‘God, what a sad man.’ He came with his labrador,” she recalled of their introduction, which occurred when she was a teenager. “My sister was all over him like a bad rash.” Diana also thought it was surprising that Charles considered her to be a viable romantic option, in spite of herself thinking that she was a “fat, podgy, no make-up, unsmart lady.”
Diana says she was “shitting bricks” the first time she went to Balmoral
Similarly to how The Crown depicted her visit in season four, Diana, despite being “terrified” of making a good impression, proved to be a triumph with the royal family. “The anticipation was worse than actually being there,” she wrote. “You’re alright once you get in through the front door.” However, it was at Balmoral that she realized the strange packing habits of her future husband: “I was always appalled that Charles takes 22 pieces of hand luggage with him. That’s before all the other stuff. I always have four or five. I felt rather embarrassed.”
Diana says Charles refused to say he loved her during his proposal
Diana was proposed to during an evening at Windsor Castle, which came somewhat as a surprise to her, given that “there was never anything tactile” about Charles when it came to love languages (like kissing or touching). She describes the proposal as being awkward for many reasons, but perhaps most glaringly what he chose not to say:
He said: ‘Will you marry me?’ and I laughed. I remember thinking: ‘This is a joke’, and I said: ‘Yeah, OK’, and laughed. He was deadly serious. He said: ‘You do realize that one day you will be Queen.’ And a voice said to me inside: ‘You won’t be Queen but you’ll have a tough role.’ So I thought: ‘OK’, so I said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘I love you so much, I love you so much.’ He said: ‘Whatever love means.’ He said it then. So I thought that was great! I thought he meant that! And so he ran upstairs and rang his mother.
Diana says that Charles did, in fact, give Camilla a special bracelet days before their wedding
In another Crown subplot from this season, Charles gifted Camilla a gold chain bracelet with “G” and “F” entwined in it, which signified their silly nicknames for each other, Gladys and Fred. Diana discovered it during a routine visit to Charles’s office, just days before their wedding. “I was devastated,” Diana said, who got no sympathy from her future family members. “I couldn’t believe how cold everyone was, how I thought one thing but actually another thing was going on. The lies and the deceit.” Weeks later, when the duo were on their honeymoon, “we were opening our diaries to discuss various things. Out come two pictures of Camilla.”
Diana says she had one of her worst “fits of bulimia” the night before her wedding …
At the time, Diana’s disease was still “hush-hush” among her inner circle, although palace staff began to realize something was amiss in the ensuing months. “I ate everything I could possibly find,” she said of the evening. “I was sick as a parrot that night. It was such an indication of what was going on … I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and couldn’t do anything about it.”
… which continued into her honeymoon
The couple’s post-wedding vacation was as heavily scheduled as their official tours with entertaining diplomats and “top people,” and their free time was often consumed by Charles reading the novels of Laurens van der Post, whom he was obsessed with. (“He read them and we had to analyse them over lunch every day,” Diana recalled about the novels.) Diana found this constant hostess duty “very difficult” to adapt to, which triggered her disease. “By then the bulimia was appalling, absolutely appalling. It was rife, four times a day on the yacht,” Diana said. “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.”
Diana says she began self-harm months after her wedding
She pinpoints October 1981 as being a particularly “bad” month, which, doubled with her bulimia, forced her to seek treatment from a psychiatrist in London. “I got terribly, terribly thin. People started commenting: ‘your bones are showing,’” Diana recalled. “I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades.” While various medications and “high doses” of Valium were prescribed to her, Diana turned them all down. “Patience and adapting were all that were needed. It was me telling them what I needed,” she said. “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.”
Diana says the royals weren’t sympathetic to her illnesses while pregnant with William
“Couldn’t sleep, didn’t eat, the whole world was collapsing around me,” Diana recalled. “Very, very becoming handicapped as a result. So sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. 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 or I either fainted or was sick.” She added that the royal family would often make her feel “embarrassed” when she asked to lessen her workload to accommodate her illnesses — or that it reflected poorly on Charles. “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,’” Diana recalled. “There was only ever one cancellation when I was carrying William, and I was made to feel so guilty by my husband for that.” Decades later, William’s wife, Kate Middleton, would suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) throughout all three of her pregnancies.
Diana says she attempted suicide while pregnant with William
While visiting Sandringham, the private country home of Queen Elizabeth, while several months pregnant with William, Diana “threw” herself “down the stairs” in response to Charles continuing to ignore and isolate her. “Charles said I was crying wolf and I said I felt so desperate and I was crying my eyes out and he said: ‘I’m not going to listen. You’re always doing this to me. I’m going riding now.’ So I threw myself down the stairs,” Diana said. “The Queen comes out, absolutely horrified, shaking — she was so frightened. I knew I wasn’t going to lose the baby; quite bruised around the stomach.” When Charles returned from riding, he dismissed the severity of the fall. “He just carried on out,” she added, “of the door.”
Diana says the Queen eventually considered her to be “a threat”
Despite early warmth from Queen Elizabeth, Diana said that their relationship soured when her and Charles’s marriage began to deteriorate. “I long to get inside her mind and talk to her and I will. I’ve always said to her: ‘I’ll never let you down but I cannot say the same for your son.’ She took it quite well,” Diana recalled. “She indicated to me that the reason why our marriage had gone downhill was because Prince Charles was having such a difficult time with my bulimia. She told me that.” This made Diana realize that the royal family thought she was the sole “cause of the marriage problems, and not one of the symptoms.”
Diana says she attempted suicide a second time
“I was running around with a lemon knife, one with the serrated edges. I was just so desperate,” Diana recalled, not specifying the date when this occurred. “I knew what was wrong with me but nobody else around me understood me. I needed rest and to be looked after inside my house and for people to understand the torment and anguish going on in my head. It was a desperate cry for help. I’m not spoiled — I just needed to be allowed to adapt to my new position.”
Diana says Charles was a primary instigator for her bulimia
Diana was able to pinpoint exactly when she began to throw up her food on a daily basis: The week after she became engaged to Charles. “It was all very strange, I just felt miserable. 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,” she explained. “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 Diana was measured for her wedding dress, she was 29 inches around the waist. The day she got married she was 23 and 1/2 inches. “I had shrunk into nothing from February to July. I had shrunk to nothing,” Diana added. “Even if I ate a lot of dinner Charles would say: ‘Is that going to reappear later? What a waste.’”
Diana says she confronted Camilla after years of being “utterly terrified” of her
While they were both in attendance at a birthday dinner of a mutual acquaintance in the late ’80s, Diana finally decided to tell Camilla that she was aware of her yearslong affair with Charles — a confrontation that she defines as being “a big step” for her. Here’s how Diana described their private encounter after Camilla tried to deny the affair:
I said: ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles, and I just want you to know that.’ And she said: ‘Oh, it’s not a cloak-and-dagger situation.’ I said: ‘I think it is.’ I wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked, but at least I got the conversation going. She said to me: ‘You’ve got everything you ever wanted. You’ve got all the men in the world falling in love with you, and you’ve got two beautiful children. What more could you want?’ I didn’t believe her, so I said: ‘I want my husband.’ Someone came down to relieve us, obviously. ‘For God’s sake, go down there, they’re having a fight.’ It wasn’t a fight — calm, deathly calm. I said to Camilla: ‘I’m sorry I’m in the way, I obviously am in the way and it must be hell for both of you, but I do know what is going on. Don’t treat me like an idiot.’ So I went upstairs and people began to disperse.”
Driving home later that night, Diana said that Charles was “all over me like a bad rash” and made her “cry like I have never cried before” for initiating the confrontation. “It was seven years’ worth of anger coming out,” Diana added. “The next morning when I woke up I felt a tremendous shift.”
Diana says Queen Elizabeth’s first reaction to seeing William was …
“She looked in the incubator and said: ‘Thank goodness he hasn’t got ears like his father.’”