A royal biographer claims that Princess Diana wanted her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, to act as a “referee” during her marriage to and divorce from then-Prince Charles.
In a recent interview with People and in his new book, “The Queen: Her Life,” Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton revisited the late Queen Elizabeth and her former daughter-in-law’s complex relationship.
Morton spoke to People about Queen Elizabeth, who died on September 8:
“She was very supportive of Diana. Diana always felt that the Queen was a kind of marital referee and that the Queen should really intervene over her husband’s relationship with Mrs. [Camilla] Parker Bowles. But the Queen’s policy was to hope for the best.”
He added of the late monarch:
“We all thought she was superhuman. She was, in fact, human.”
The royal author claimed in an excerpt from his new book obtained by People that the Queen was aware of Charles and Diana’s marital rift long before the publication of Morton’s 1992 biography, “Diana: Her True Story,” which claimed Diana attempted suicide five times in despair over her marriage to the then-Prince of Wales.
According to Morton’s new book, Queen Elizabeth was not prepared for such a detailed public exposition.
Diana made an appointment to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace just days after Diana and Charles announced their separation in December 1992. During the visit, Diana is said to have burst into tears in front of the Queen, claiming that everyone was against her.
According to the biographer, an unnamed lady-in-waiting said of the meeting:
“The Queen didn’t know what to do. She has always hated this kind of emotional confrontation and, frankly, has never had to deal with it before or since.”
Queen Elizabeth attempted to keep Diana in the royal fold despite the divorce, hoping that she and Charles would reconcile.
During this time, the Queen and Queen Mother expressed their displeasure with Charles’ long-running affair with Camilla by refusing to invite her to any court functions.
But Diana, allegedly irritated that the monarch had not intervened to end Charles’ relationship with Camilla, apparently thought this was insufficient, according to Morton.
According to Morton, Princess Diana reportedly stated:
“My mother-in-law has been totally supportive, but it’s so difficult to get a decision out of her.”
Diana allegedly wanted Charles to file for divorce and hoped the Queen would push her son in that direction.
Princess Diana shocked the royal family in November 1995 with her “Panorama” interview, in which she discussed her eating disorders, a failed marriage, depression, and her husband Charles’ affair with Camilla.
Princess Diana told Martin Bashir, an interviewer:
“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
According to Morton, the interview was the final straw that convinced Queen Elizabeth to allow Diana and Charles to divorce.
Morton stated in an excerpt from his new book:
“When it was broadcast, her television confessional was both shocking and, as far as the royal family was concerned, unforgivable. When the Queen finally watched a recording of the show, she was despairing, her husband apoplectic. Something had to be done, for the sake of not just the monarchy but also their grandchildren. The Queen, having held out the olive branch for so long, was now determined to cut the marital Gordian knot.”
On December 18, 1995, Princess Diana received a handwritten note from the Queen. Part of the first letter she received from her mother-in-law read:
“I have consulted with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the prime minister and, of course, with Charles, and we have decided that the best course for you is divorce.”
In August 1996, Charles and Diana finalized their divorce. A year later, the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry was killed in a car accident in Paris.
Charles later married Camilla in a civil ceremony in 2005. The ceremony was skipped by Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip.
“The Queen: Her Life” is now available.