With the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death coming up next month, there have been plenty of glowing tributes to her life and legacy. Many, like a recent documentary made by her sons William and Harry, skirt the more difficult, scandalous aspects of her story.
But a cultural re-examination of one of the 20th century’s most famous women wouldn’t be complete without addressing those difficult, scandalous aspects. Some of those will come when British TV airs excerpts of a series of videotaped recordings of Diana, in which she discusses her unhappy sex life with Prince Charles and reveals she only met him 13 times before they married, the Telegraph reported.
The tapes are expected to be a pivotal part of the documentary, “Diana: In Her Own Words.” They were recorded as part of media-training lessons Diana undertook with voice coach Peter Settelen in 1992 and 1993 — at a time when her marriage to Charles was in crisis.
The footage captures Diana at her private residence in Kensington Palace and shows her rehearsing her speaking voice. But she also apparently used the sessions as an opportunity to talk at length about her life and air general grievances about Charles, including his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.
At one point, she describes her wedding day as “the worst day of her life” and said she struggled to live up to her “fairy princess” public image.
Portions of the tapes were originally broadcast by NBC back in 2004, but the personal nature of the tapes and the fact they were never meant to be made public has made them controversial and kept them off British TV — until now.
In one of the most controversial sections of the tapes, Diana reportedly says that Charles didn’t require much of her when it came to their sex life.
“Once every three weeks about and I kept thinking it followed a pattern,” she said. “He used to see his lady once every three weeks before we got married.”
Diana also talks about going to the queen at one point to talk about Charles, saying: “I went to the top lady and I’m sobbing. And I said, ‘What do I do?’ (The queen) said, ‘I don’t know — Charles is hopeless.’”
The show won’t do any favors for Charles, whose ascendence to the thrown has become a looming topic with Elizabeth II entering her 90s and his father Prince Philip retiring from public life. Polls have shown that many Britons aren’t that excited about the idea of King Charles, and would prefer that his son Prince William become king.
While expecting controversy, the producers believe that airing the tapes is an “important contribution to the historical record.”
Ralph Lee, the head of factual programming for Channel 4, said: “The tapes, which show a relaxed and off-duty Diana, are hugely illuminating about her personality, humor and charm.”
He added, “Combined with historical context and interviews with her closest confidants, this film provides a nuanced, multi-layered portrait of the most famous woman in the world and a mother who has shaped the future line of the royal family.”