Diana and Andrew?
It’s easy to forget just beset by turmoil the royal family was in the 1990’s, as Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ so-called “War of the Waleses” threatened to tear the institution apart. From today’s perspective, it seems rather extraordinary that these two married at all, given not just the 12-year age gap and Charles’ ongoing affection for Camilla Parker Bowles but also the fact that they shared no interests.
In a new book, My Mother And I, a portrait of the relationship between Charles and his mother Queen Elizabeth, excerpted in the Daily Mail this week, author Ingrid Seward says that Diana, intoxicated by royal glamor “determinedly … set out to become the Princess of Wales.”
According to Seward, the late queen had her reservations about the match between Diana and Charles, and privately wondered whether Diana wouldn’t be better suited to Prince Andrew.
Diana’s royal campaign, as Seward tells it, includes a 1980 visit to her sister Jane, who was married to Robert Fellowes, a trusted member of the queen’s household, at Balmoral; Diana was subsequently invited to join a four-day shooting party at the castle.
One anonymous member of staff is quoted as saying that in an effort to make a good impression: “Diana was always up early. If you looked out of your window at a quarter to eight, you would see her walking in the garden, and she made a great point of being there to see them off. It was then that she played her sharpest card. She would go around telling everybody how much she loved Balmoral and that it was such a magical place and how she loved it beyond imagination.”
Charles was encouraged, Seward says, by her professed interest in the estate and took her on fishing trips.
Seward also sheds light on another strange moment in Diana’s pre-marital, post-engagement life when she was effectively sequestered in Buckingham Palace and developed a close friendship with Prince Edward’s footman Mark Simpson.
Simpson tells Seward: “She was becoming more and more unhappy.”
Things took a strange turn when Charles returned from a week-long trip to America and barely acknowledged his fiancée, leading her to break down in tears.
Simpson found her weeping, gave her a hug: “And then Lady Susan Hussey [the late queen’s lady-in-waiting] came in while I had my arms around her. That was a big mistake—for me, anyway. She didn’t think the future Princess of Wales should have her arms around a footman. She came in and went straight out. I was mortified.”
Simpson adds that after the engagement in 1981, “I started seeing her every day and we had these great long chats. She told me she hated the engagement photos and she thought she looked fat, which was when her bulimia started. We talked about everything. She said how unfeeling the family was; how they had no emotion and Prince Charles wasn’t paying her any attention, and there was a great long list of people she hated and loathed. She hated Lady Susan Hussey, and she hated Princess Anne.”
Another movie all about Andrew
A third screen drama about Prince Andrew’s rollercoaster life is in the works, the Mail on Sunday reports. Sandpaper Films, which has links with big streamers like Netflix and Amazon, is preparing a drama following Andrew from favored son of the late queen to Falklands War hero to royal nobody in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein/Virginia Giuffre scandal.
“Producers are said to be keen to approach Andrew's former private secretary Alastair Watson,” the paper reports, which of true would be alarming for Andrew has Watson—who worked for Andrew between 2003 to 2012—allegedly “knows where the bodies are buried.”
The drama follows two others (from Amazon and Netflix) focused on Andrew’s famously disastrous BBC Newsnight interview, which sealed his royal fate.
King appoints first female equerry
King Charles has appointed the first ever female equerry to the sovereign. Wey hey, it’s 2024: such progress! The Sunday Times reports that Kat Anderson, a Royal Artillery officer, has been appointed Charles’ assistant equerry.
Equerries, the Times describes, oversee the smooth day-to-day running of the monarch’s engagements, and can be seen as the monarch’s “eyes and ears” of what is going on in the palace. Anderson, the paper said, joined Charles’ team last month on secondment from the Cabinet Office and No 10, where she worked as an assistant private secretary to national security advisers and as prime minister Rishi Sunak’s aide-de-camp or “military assistant.”
Amderson will be one of the deputies to Lieutenant Commander Will Thornton, whom Charles has appointed as his new equerry. This may be somewhat sad news for fans of Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Thompson, the equerry who became a social media star having been sighted—and much lusted over online—at a series of public events. He became nicknamed as “Major Eye Candy” and the “Hot Equerry.”
The Times says “Johnny” has been promoted to “senior equerry” for Charles and Camilla in what royal sources say is a “more executive but less visible role.” (Boo, hiss say his fans!)
And speaking of “Johnny,” the Mail on Sunday reports he is now with “new love” Olivia Lewis, “a well-connected PR executive.” They have been together for a year, and are said to be “well matched and very happy.” He separated from his wife nearly two years ago, the Mail says.
The Telegraph reports on an IPSOS poll showing that Kate Middleton and Charles both received 3-point ratings bounces after they were admitted to hospital—and that Meghan Markle is still the least popular member of the royal family, bar Prince Andrew.
51% think Charles is doing a good job as king, a long way from the stellar 80% and 90% ratings Queen Elizabeth used to command.
Charles seen at church with Camilla
King Charles was seen at St. Mary Magdalene church in Sandringham Sunday, the first time he has been seen in public after greeting fans outside hospital after receiving treatment for an enlarged prostate. Charles smiled and waved at photographers, as he and Queen Camilla were greeted outside church by Sandringham rector, the Revd. Canon Paul Williams.
What did queen say about Bashir interview?
The release this week by the BBC of thousands of documents relating to the Martin Bashir interview with Diana, and the corporation’s alleged cover-up of his malfeasance, takes a new twist today with the Daily Mail saying that the queen wrote to the BBC in the days before its broadcast. The BBC has, however, refused to reveal the content of the letter sent to the Director General on November 16, 1995. The interview was broadcast on the 20th.
In 2021, an inquiry concluded that Martin Bashir faked bank statements to convince Diana to do the interview, and that the BBC covered up his wrongdoing.
This week in royal history
A very, very busy week in royal times gone by. On Feb. 6, 1952, George VI died; on Feb 8., 1952 Elizabeth II was proclaimed queen; on Feb, 9, 2002, Princess Margaret died; on Feb. 10, 2005, King Charles and Queen Camilla announced their engagement.
With Charles, Kate, and William off the royal stage, is this Camilla’s moment to shine? What if Diana had married Andrew?