Princess Diana didn’t want to end her marriage to Prince Charles, but would have preferred to stay in a separated partnership, royal expert Jennie Bond has claimed.
Jennie, a former BBC News Royal Correspondent, said the late Princess of Wales confided in her after her closest confidante, Patrick Jephson, resigned from his role as her private secretary, following her bombshell 1995 Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.
In a new Channel 5 documentary, Princess Diana, In Her Own Words, the journalist said that the late princess would have preferred to stay married to Charles and worked together on royal duties as separated partners, believing they made a strong team.
Diana’s former aides also told the documentary that the mother-of-two was ‘incredibly smart’, albeit not academically gifted.
Princess Diana didn’t want to end her marriage to Prince Charles but instead stay in a separated partnership, Jennie Bond has revealed. Charles and Diana are pictured together in 1985
Jennie told the programme: ‘Diana was pretty unsettled with the divorce, she didn’t want the divorce, she told me, “It’s not something I want”.
‘I think she felt somehow they could continue as separated but partners and parents to the two boys, and she really did try to make it work and she wanted to make it work.
‘She found the day of the divorce extremely hard. She did go out, she was seen in public, but she was hurting badly. She told me that it was an extremely difficult day, but she went home and burst into tears.’
Jennie added that the Princess would share incredibly personal things with her, but it was always off the record.
‘Diana and I met at the palace a few times.
‘I wrote to her actually. I said, “I don’t know what to believe when I read all this stuff in the paper, I don’t know whether it’s true or not, can’t we just meet as two women over a cup of coffee, as two mums?”.
In a new Channel 5 documentary, Princess Diana, In Her Own Words, the journalist says: ‘Diana was pretty unsettled with the divorce, she didn’t want the divorce, she told me “it’s not something I want”. Diana and Charles are pictured together in 1981
‘She was very happy to talk about extremely personal matters, but it was in confidence infuriatingly, she would always say “Jennie, this is just between me, you and these four walls”.’
In 1997, Diana told the New Yorker she hoped her marriage would last.
‘We would have been the best team in the world. I could shake hands until the cows come home and Charles could make serious speeches but it was not to be,’ she said.
Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former press secretary, is also interviewed in the new documentary, which rebroadcasts clips from interviews Diana filmed before her death in 1997.
He reveals the moment he found out about her interview, as well as why he decided to resign following the broadcast.
‘She realised she had gone too far and it had done her no good. It was poignant, it was painful and to me there was a great sense of loss, inevitably after Panorama there was no way back,’ he said.
‘My objection was not the fact she’d done it, but it was her message, the poor little me message, was the wrong one. I felt it was an opportunity to demonstrate her strength and what a big heated person she was. I felt I had to resign.
Recalling his first knowledge of the interview, Patrick explained they were in a car travelling to Broadmoor Hospital, where Diana was visiting.
‘I knew she was a bit uncomfortable, she said to me, “Patrick, I’ve done an interview on the TV.”
‘If you want more from a royal, particularly Princess Diana, you act interested, and frankly I said, “Yes tell me more”.
‘She said, it’s for Panorama and I said “Sh, right, good,” although inside I was thinking “God”.
And she said to me “It’s very good, don’t worry”. I said “Has it been taped, has it been done? Does the Queen know?”.’
He revealed Princess Diana said it had been taped, she hadn’t spoken to the lawyer and the Queen didn’t know.
‘I picked up the phone in the car and asked the switchboard to put me through to the Queen’s private officer and Charles Anson [the Queen’s private secretary] answered.
Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former press secretary, is also interviewed in the new documentary, which rebroadcasts clips from interviews Diana filmed before her death in 1997. Diana is pictured in Angola
‘So he was the first person I told. And Charles has a great poker delivery, he said. “Oh of course, yes”.
‘On the drive to Broadmoor I tried to coax more out of the Princess to find out what she said. She got more and more reluctant to speak and eventually we drove on in silence.
‘She was fabulous at emotionally engaging with people she interacted with, she had such quick wit, she was not academically gifted but she was the smartest person I knew.
Ken Wharfe, a former royal protection officer, added: ‘People often questioned her intelligence. She was incredibly streetwise but she’d be the first to admit she wasn’t the brightest person on earth.’
- Princess Diana: In Her Own Words, airs Saturday June on 27 Channel 5 at 9pm