Princess Diana in her own words – on confronting Camilla and The Crown’s infamous lunch

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A seemingly fairytale romance that was destined never to work thanks to the third person in the marriage – The Crown’s depiction of the Charles, Diana and Camilla years has had the nation hooked.

But it has also seemingly caused outrage among friends of Prince Charles, upset at his portrayal as a spolit, petulant adulterer. And while there might be critics who claim The Crown is more fiction than fact, another Netflix show – which has shot into the top 10 most viewed programmes – actually tells Diana’s version of the truth straight from the horse’s mouth.

Documentary Diana: In Her Own Words, originally show on National Geographic, broadcasts the tapes Diana made herself talking about her life and marriage which were then passed on to her biographer Andrew Morton.

Diana, Princess of Wales spoke in her own words for Andrew Morton's book on her life – do these match up to her portrayal in The Crown?
(Image: Mirrorpix)

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Diana speaks matter-of-factly about her whole life with Charles – from their first meetings when she was a “podgy, non make-up, unsmart lady” of just 16 while he was dating her sister Sarah, to their engagement, marriage, children and the catastrophic fracturing of their relationship. Here Amanda Killelea looks at some of the insights in Diana’s own words…

The proposal

In February 1981 Charles rang Diana from Klosters where he was skiing saying he had something to ask her. She knew exactly what the question was – but also that she wasn’t the only the woman on his mind.

Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles on the day their engagement was announced in 1981
(Image: Getty)

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She recalled: “I sat up all night with my girls, saying, ‘What do I do? What do I say?’ By that time I had realised there was somebody else around.

“I’d been staying at Bolehyde with the Parker Bowles’s an awful lot. I couldn’t understand why Camilla kept saying to me, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’

“She knew so much about what he was doing privately. Eventually I worked it out. The next day I went to Windsor. He sat me down and said, ‘Will you marry me?’

“I remember thinking this is a joke. I said, ‘Yeah, OK’. And he was deadly serious. He said, ‘You do realise that one day you will be Queen?’.

Emma Corrin and Josh O'Connor as Diana and Charles in the iconic engagement moment
(Image: Netflix)

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“A voice said to me inside, ‘You won’t be queen but you’ll have a tough role’.

“I said, ‘I love you so much’. And he said, ‘Whatever love means’.”

The wedding

The night before her wedding Diana stayed at Clarence House with her sister – and her bulimia was out of control.

LONDON,UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 29: Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles pose for the official photograph by Lord Lichfield in Buckingham Palace at their wedding on July 29, 1981 in St. Pauls Cathedral, London.
(Image: Getty)

Charles, Prince of Wales, kisses his bride, Lady Diana, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace when they appeared before a huge crowd after their wedding in St Paul's Cathedral
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She recalls: “I was sick as a parrot the night before and it was a very strong indication of what was going on. The next morning I must have been awake about five and I was very, very deathly calm, deathly calm.

“I felt like I was a lamb to the slaughter and I knew it.”

The Crown costume designer wanted to create something that wasnt an exact replica of Lady Dianas original dress but which captured the same spirit and style of David & Elizabeth Emanuels iconic design. Amy Roberts, our designer, spoke to David Emanuel in depth about the Emanuels original sketches and designs. He was fantastically collaborative and helpful to the design team and talked through the detail of many of the original drawings.
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The honeymoon

The couple honeymooned on Royal Yacht Britannia but it ended in heartbreak for Diana.

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She recalled: “On our honeymoon cufflinks arrive on his wrists. Two Cs entwined like the Chanel C. So I said, ‘Camilla gave you those, didn’t she?’

“He said, ‘Yes so what’s wrong? They are a present from a friend’.

“And boy did we have a row. Jealous. Total jealousy.”

The bulimia

The Crown shows an anxious, trapped Diana making herself sick in the bathroom at Buckingham Palace.

The Crown has portrayed Diana's bulimia experience in detail
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Diana said: “The bulimia started the week after we got engaged. My husband put his hand on my waistline and said, ‘Oooh a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’

“And that triggered off something in me. I remember the first time I made myself sick, I was so thrilled.”

Pregnant with Prince William

Diana felt getting pregnant was “an absolute godsend”. But she suffered with both morning sickness and bulimia.

“I was sick all day. I didn’t know what to do. I was very aware I wasn’t being helpful to my husband and was mortified.”

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Diana’s unhappiness became even more desperate. “Charles said I was crying wolf.”

Charles left to go riding and Diana threw herself down the stairs while still pregnant. “The Queen comes out. She was shaking she was so frightened.”

Even William’s birth was planned to fit in with Charles, Diana said. “We had to find a date that suited him and his polo.

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“William had to be induced because I couldn’t handle the press any longer. It was becoming unbearable.

“I was aware the whole country was holding its breath.”

Camilla and THAT lunch

The Crown depicts a very awkward lunch where Camilla made it clear that although Diana may have had the ring on her finger, Camilla was very much still involved in Charles’ life.

Diana had moved into Clarence House and as she left her girly flat-share for the last time a policeman prophetically warned her that this would be her last night of freedom for the rest of her life.

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In the tapes, Diana recalls: “When I arrived at Clarence House there was a letter on my bed from Camilla dated two days previously. Saying: Such exciting news about the engagement, do let’s have lunch soon. I’d love to see the ring. Lots of love, Camilla. That was wow.”

Charles headed off on a five-week tour of Australia and New Zealand and cameras caught Diana sobbing at the airport – but it was nothing to do with her fiancee leaving.

Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell) with Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) after the engagement is announced
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Diana said: “The most awful thing happened before he went. I was in his study talking to him about his trip.

“The telephone went and it was Camilla. Just before he was going for five weeks. So I thought I’d be nice so I left him to it. And it just broke my heart that. So I organised lunch.

“We had lunch, and very tricky, very tricky indeed.”

Facing up to Camilla

Diana and Charles were going to a party where Diana knew Camilla would also be a guest.

Once there, Diana realised Charles and Camilla had disappeared and she found them chatting away with another man.

Diana eventually confronted Camilla about her relationship with Charles
(Image: Getty Images)

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“I said, ‘Camilla I’d love to have a word with you,’ and she looked really uncomfortable and put her head down and said, ‘Yes, fine.’

“I said, ‘Camilla I’d just like you to know that I know exactly what is going on’.

“And she said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’.

“And I said, ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles and I just want you to know that’.

“And she said to me, ‘You’ve got everything you ever wanted, all the men in the world fall in love with you, you’ve got two beautiful children. What more could you want?’

“And I said, ‘I want my husband.’ And she just looked down and said, ‘Well’.”

National Geographic documentary Diana: In Her Own Words is being shown on Netflix now.

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