q: Your Royal Highness, how prepared were you for the pressures that
came with marrying into the Royal Family?
diana: At the age of 19, you always think you're prepared for everything, and
you think you have the knowledge of what's coming ahead. But although I was
daunted at the prospect at the time, I felt I had the support of my
q: What were the expectations that you had for married life?
a: I think like any marriage, specially when you've had divorced parents
like myself, you'd want to try even harder to make it work and you don't want
to fall back into a pattern that you've seen happen in your own family.
I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to
share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team.
q: How aware were you of the significance of what had happened to you?
After all, you'd become Princess of Wales, ultimately with a view to becoming
a: I wasn't daunted, and am not daunted by the responsibilities that that
role creates. It was a challenge, it is a challenge.
As for becoming Queen, it's, it was never at the forefront of my mind when I
married my husband: it was a long way off that thought.
The most daunting aspect was the media attention, because my husband and I, we
were told when we got engaged that the media would go quietly, and it didn't;
and then when we were married they said it would go quietly and it didn't; and
then it started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a
newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher
the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop.
And I was very aware of that.
q: How did you handle the transition from being Lady Diana Spencer to
the most photographed, the most talked-about, woman in the world?
a: Well, it took a long time to understand why people were so interested in
me, but I assumed it was because my husband had done a lot of wonderful work
leading up to our marriage and our relationship.
But then I, during the years you see yourself as a good product that sits on a
shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you.
q: It's been suggested in some newspapers that you were left largely to
cope with your new status on your own. Do you feel that was your experience?
a: Yes I do, on reflection. But then here was a situation which hadn't ever
happened before in history, in the sense that the media were everywhere, and
here was a fairy story that everybody wanted to work.
And so it was, it was isolating, but it was also a situation where you
couldn't indulge in feeling sorry for yourself: you had to either sink or swim.
And you had to learn that very fast.
q: And what did you do?
a: I swam. We went to Alice Springs, to Australia, and we went and did a
walkabout, and I said to my husband: ´What do I do now?'
And he said, ´Go over to the other side and speak to them.' I said,
can't, I just can't.'
He said, ´Well, you've got to do it.' And he went off and did his bit, and
I went off and did my bit. It practically finished me off there and then, and I
suddenly realised - I went back to our hotel room and realised the impact that,
you know, I had to sort myself out.
We had a six-week tour - four weeks in Australia and two weeks in New Zealand -
and by the end, when we flew back from New Zealand, I was a different person. I
realised the sense of duty, the level of intensity of interest, and the
demanding role I now found myself in.
q: Were you overwhelmed by the pressure from people initially?
a: Yes, I was very daunted because as far as I was concerned I was a fat,
chubby, 20-year-old, 21-year-old, and I couldn't understand the level of
q: At this early stage, would you say that you were happily married?
a: Very much so. But, the pressure on us both as a couple with the media
was phenomenal, and misunderstood by a great many people.
We'd be going round Australia, for instance, and all you could hear was, oh,
she's on the other side. Now, if you're a man, like my husband a proud man, you
mind about that if you hear it every day for four weeks. And you feel low about
it, instead of feeling happy and sharing it.
q: When you say ´she's on the other side', what do you mean?
a: Well, they weren't on the right side to wave at me or to touch me.
q: So they were expressing a preference even then for you rather than
a: Yes - which I felt very uncomfortable with, and I felt it was unfair,
because I wanted to share.
q: But were you flattered by the media attention particularly?
a: No, not particularly, because with the media attention came a lot of
jealousy, a great deal of complicated situations arose because of that.
q: At this early stage in your marriage, what role did you see for
yourself as Princess of Wales? Did you have an idea of the role that you might
like to fulfill?
a: No, I was very confused by which area I should go into. Then I found
myself being more and more involved with people who were rejected by society -
with, I'd say, drug addicts, alcoholism, battered this, battered that - and I
found an affinity there.
And I respected very much the honesty I found on that level with people I met,
because in hospices, for instance, when people are dying they're much more open
and more vulnerable, and much more real than other people. And I appreciated
q: Had the Palace given any thought to the role that you might have as
Princess of Wales?
a: No, no one sat me down with a piece of paper and said: ´This is
what is expected of you.' But there again, I'm lucky enough in the fact that I
have found my role, and I'm very conscious of it, and I love being with
q: So you very much created the role that you would pursue for yourself
really? That was what you did?
a: I think so. I remember when I used to sit on hospital beds and hold
people's hands, people used to be sort of shocked because they said they'd
never seen this before, and to me it was quite a normal thing to do.
And when I saw the reassurance that an action like that gave, I did it
everywhere, and will always do that.
q: It wasn't long after the wedding before you became pregnant. What was
your reaction when you learnt that the child was a boy?
a: Enormous relief. I felt the whole country was in labour with me.
But I had actually known William was going to be a boy, because the scan had
shown it, so it caused no surprise.
q: Had you always wanted to have a family?
a: Yes, I came from a family where there were four of us, so we had
enormous fun there.
And then William and Harry arrived - fortunately two boys, it would have been a
little tricky if it had been two girls - but that in itself brings the
responsibilities of bringing them up, William's future being as it is, and
Harry like a form of a back-up in that aspect.
q: How did the rest of the Royal Family react when they learnt that the
child that you were to have was going to be a boy?
a: Well, everybody was thrilled to bits. It had been quite a difficult
pregnancy - I hadn't been very well throughout it - so by the time William
arrived it was a great relief because it was all peaceful again, and I was well
for a time.
Then I was unwell with post-natal depression, which no one ever discusses,
post-natal depression, you have to read about it afterwards, and that in itself
was a bit of a difficult time. You'd wake up in the morning feeling you didn't
want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in
q: Was this completely out of character for you?
a: Yes, very much so. I never had had a depression in my life.
But then when I analysed it I could see that the changes I'd made in the last
year had all caught up with me, and my body had said: ´We want a rest.'
q: So what treatment did you actually receive?
a: I received a great deal of treatment, but I knew in myself that actually
what I needed was space and time to adapt to all the different roles that had
come my way. I knew I could do it, but I needed people to be patient and give
me the space to do it.
q: When you say all of the different roles that had come your way, what
do you mean?
a: Well, it was a very short space of time: in the space of a year my whole
life had changed, turned upside down, and it had its wonderful moments, but it
also had challenging moments. And I could see where the rough edges needed to
q: What was the family's reaction to your post-natal depression?
a: Well maybe I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had
a depression or was ever openly tearful. And obviously that was daunting,
because if you've never seen it before how do you support it?
q: What effect did the depression have on your marriage?
a: Well, it gave everybody a wonderful new label - Diana's unstable and
Diana's mentally unbalanced. And unfortunately that seems to have stuck on and
off over the years.
q: Are you saying that that label stuck within your marriage?
a: I think people used it and it stuck, yes.
q: According to press reports, it was suggested that it was around this
time things became so difficult that you actually tried to injure yourself.
a: Mmm. When no one listens to you, or you feel no one's listening to you,
all sorts of things start to happen.
For instance you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt
yourself on the outside because you want help, but it's the wrong help you're
asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think
because you're in the media all the time you've got enough attention, inverted
But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go
forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales.
So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn't like myself, I was ashamed
because I couldn't cope with the pressures.
q: What did you actually do?
a: Well, I just hurt my arms and my legs; and I work in environments now
where I see women doing similar things and I'm able to understand completely
where they're coming from.
q: What was your husband's reaction to this, when you began to injure
yourself in this way?
a: Well, I didn't actually always do it in front of him. But obviously
anyone who loves someone would be very concerned about it.
q: Did he understand what was behind the physical act of hurting
yourself, do you think?
a: No, but then not many people would have taken the time to see that.
q: Were you able to admit that you were in fact unwell, or did you feel
compelled simply to carry on performing as the Princess of Wales?
a: I felt compelled to perform. Well, when I say perform, I was
compelled to go out and do my engagements and not let people down and support
them and love them.
And in a way by being out in public they supported me, although they weren't
aware just how much healing they were giving me, and it carried me through.
q: But did you feel that you had to maintain the public image of a
successful Princess of Wales?
a: Yes I did, yes I did.
q: The depression was resolved, as you say, but it was subsequently
reported that you suffered bulimia. Is that true?
a: Yes, I did. I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a
You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you
don't think you're worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five
times a day - some do it more - and it gives you a feeling of comfort.
It's like having a pair of arms around you, but it's temporarily, temporary.
Then you're disgusted at the bloatedness of your stomach, and then you bring it
all up again.
And it's a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself.
q: How often would you do that on a daily basis?
a: Depends on the pressures going on. If I'd been on what I call an
awayday, or I'd been up part of the country all day, I'd come home feeling
pretty empty, because my engagements at that time would be to do with people
dying, people very sick, people's marriage problems, and I'd come home and it
would be very difficult to know how to comfort myself having been comforting
lots of other people, so it would be a regular pattern to jump
into the fridge.
It was a symptom of what was going on in my marriage.
I was crying out for help, but giving the wrong signals, and people were using
my bulimia as a coat on a hanger: they decided that was the problem - Diana was
q: Instead of looking behind the symptom at the cause.
q: What was the cause?
a: The cause was the situation where my husband and I had to keep
everything together because we didn't want to disappoint the public, and yet
obviously there was a lot of anxiety going on within our four walls.
q: Do you mean between the two of you?
q: And so you subjected yourself to this phase of bingeing and
a: You could say the word subjected, but it was my escape mechanism, and it
worked, for me, at that time.
q: Did you seek help from any other members of the Royal Family?
a: No. You, you have to know that when you have bulimia you're very ashamed
of yourself and you hate yourself, so - and people think you're wasting food -
so you don't discuss it with people.
And the thing about bulimia is your weight always stays the same, whereas with
anorexia you visibly shrink. So you can pretend the whole way through. There's
q: When you say people would think you were wasting food, did anybody
suggest that to you?
a: Oh yes, a number of times.
q: What was said?
a: Well, it was just, ´I suppose you're going to waste that food later
on?' And that was pressure in itself. And of course I would, because it was my
q: How long did this bulimia go on for?
a: A long time, a long time. But I'm free of it now.
q: Two years, three years?
a: Mmm. A little bit more than that.
q: According to reports in the national press, it was at around this
time that you began to experience difficulties in your marriage, in your
relationship to the Prince of Wales. Is that true?
a: Well, we were a newly-married couple, so obviously we had those
pressures too, and we had the media, who were completely fascinated by
everything we did.
And it was difficult to share that load, because I was the one who was always
pitched out front, whether it was my clothes, what I said, what my hair was
doing, everything - which was a pretty dull subject, actually, and it's been
exhausted over the years - when actually what we wanted to be, what we wanted
supported was our work, and as a team.
q: What effect did the press interest in you have on your marriage?
a: It made it very difficult, because for a situation where it was a couple
working in the same job - we got out the same car, we shook the same hand, my
husband did the speeches, I did the handshaking - so basically we were a
married couple doing the same job, which is very difficult for anyone, and more
so if you ve got all the attention on you.
We struggled a bit with it, it was very difficult; and then my husband
decided that we do separate engagements, which was a bit sad for me, because I
quite liked the company.
But, there again, I didn't have the choice.
q: So it wasn't at your request that you did that on your own?
a: Not at all, no.
q: The biography of the Prince of Wales written by Jonathan Dimbleby,
which as you know was published last year, suggested that you and your husband
had very different outlooks, very different interests. Would you agree with
a: No. I think we had a great deal of interest - we both liked people, both
liked country life, both loved children, work in the cancer field, work in
But I was portrayed in the media at that time, if I remember rightly, as
someone, because I hadn't passed any O-levels and taken any A-levels, I was
And I made the grave mistake once of saying to a child I was thick as a plank,
in order to ease the child's nervousness, which it did. But that headline went
all round the world, and I rather regret saying it.
q: The Prince of Wales, in the biography, is described as a great
thinker, a man with a tremendous range of interests. What did he think of your
a: Well, I don't think I was allowed to have any. I think that I've always
been the 18-year-old girl he got engaged to, so I don't think I've been given
any credit for growth. And, my goodness, I've had to grow.
q: Explain what you mean when you say that.
a: Well, er...
q: When you say, when you say you were never given any credit, what do
a: Well anything good I ever did nobody ever said a thing, never said,
´well done', or ´was it OK?' But if I tripped up, which invariably I
did, because I was new at the game, a ton of bricks came down on me.
q: How did you cope with that?
a: Well obviously there were lots of tears, and one could dive into the
bulimia, into escape.
q: Some people would find that difficult to believe, that you were left
so much to cope on your own, and that the description you give suggests that
your relationship with your husband was not very good even at that early
a: Well, we had unique pressures put upon us, and we both tried our hardest
to cover them up, but obviously it wasn't to be.
q: Around 1986, again according to the biography written by Jonathan
Dimbleby about your husband, he says that your husband renewed his relationship
with Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles. Were you aware of that?
a: Yes I was, but I wasn't in a position to do anything about it.
q: What evidence did you have that their relationship was continuing
even though you were married?
a: Oh, a woman's instinct is a very good one.
q: Is that all?
a: Well, I had, obviously I had knowledge of it.
q: From staff?
a: Well, from people who minded and cared about our marriage, yes.
q: What effect did that have on you?
a: Pretty devastating. Rampant bulimia, if you can have rampant bulimia,
and just a feeling of being no good at anything and being useless and hopeless
and failed in every direction.
q: And with a husband who was having a relationship with somebody
a: With a husband who loved someone else, yes.
q: You really thought that?
a: Uh,uh. I didn't think that, I knew it.
q: How did you know it?
a: By the change of behavioural pattern in my husband; for all sorts of
reasons that a woman's instinct produces; you just know.
It was already difficult, but it became increasingly difficult.
q: In the practical sense, how did it become difficult?
a: Well, people were - when I say people I mean friends, on my husband's
side - were indicating that I was again unstable, sick, and should be put in a
home of some sort in order to get better. I was almost an embarrassment.
q: Do you think he really thought that?
a: Well, there's no better way to dismantle a personality than to
q: So you were isolated?
a: Uh,uh, very much so.
q: Do you think Mrs Parker-Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your
a: Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit
q: You're effectively living separate lives, yet in public there's this
appearance of this happily married royal couple. How was this regarded by the
a: I think everybody was very anxious because they could see there were
complications but didn't want to interfere, but were there, made it known that
they were there if required.
q: Do you think it was accepted that one could live effectively two
lives - one in private and one in public?
a: No, because again the media was very interested about our set-up,
inverted commas; when we went abroad we had separate apartments, albeit we were
on the same floor, so of course that was leaked, and that caused
But Charles and I had our duty to perform, and that was paramount.
q: So in a sense you coped with this, these two lives, because of your
a: Uh,uh. And we were a very good team in public; albeit what was going on
in private, we were a good team.
q: Some people would find that difficult to reconcile.
a: Well, that's their problem. I know what it felt like.
q: The Queen described 1992 as her ´annus horribilis', and it was
in that year that Andrew Morton's book about you was published. Did you ever
meet Andrew Morton or personally help him with the book?
a: I never met him, no.
q: Did you ever personally assist him with the writing of his book?
a: A lot of people saw the distress that my life was in, and they felt it
was a supportive thing to help in the way that they did.
q: Did you allow your friends, your close friends, to speak to Andrew
a: Yes, I did. Yes, I did.
a: I was at the end of my tether. I was desperate.
I think I was so fed up with being seen as someone who was a basket-case,
because I am a very strong person and I know that causes complications in the
system that I live in.
q: How would a book change that?
a: I don't know. Maybe people have a better understanding, maybe there's a
lot of women out there who suffer on the same level but in a different
environment, who are unable to stand up for themselves because their
self-esteem is cut into two. I don't know.