The Northern Territory news Sat 29 Jul 2017
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24 INSIGHT SATURDAY JULY 29 2017 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 record her answers, and give the tapes to Morton. As a royal watcher, who worked as a freelance author and was not associated with any of the major newspapers, Morton knew Diana but only from a distance. It was always fairly superficial, as you do at a cocktail reception, he says. Thats why I was so astonished at being asked to write the book. He believes Diana wanted someone not connected with newspapers or who had close ties to Buckingham Palace and the royal court. It was about control, taking control of her life, he says. Morton also knew the book, and Diana, would be still front of mind for many people decades later. She is a fascinating character and no one has been able to replace her, he says. Think about how hysterical people get about everything to do with Diana. Look at the really vitriolic comments on stories about her. Theres no balance on the dial, even 20 years after her death. She was a lightning rod, in many ways. ROYAL SAGA: Andrew Morton (left); Diana interviewed on Panorama (above left); Charles and Camilla in 1975 (above right); and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte (far right) in Germany last week. Pictures: Getty ANDREW Mortonknew, as he waswriting his seminalbook on Diana thePrincess of Wales back in 1992, that he was crafting a piece of history. The book Diana: Her True Story blew the lid off Dianas unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, his closeness to Camilla Parker Bowles, Dianas eating disorders and her suicide attempts. It shook the royal household to its core. But what nobody knew at the time was that the book was based on taped interviews with the Princess of Wales herself, conducted by a mutual friend who then smuggled the tapes out of Kensington Palace and into Mortons hands. That information only came to light after her death in a car crash in Paris, 20 years ago next month. Now, 25 years after it was first published, Morton has revised his book, including more details from the taped interviews, and revealing the restrictions he was under as he wrote what turned out to be the closest thing ever published to Dianas own biography. I realised it was a historic document I was producing, Morton said this week from his home in London, where he has just completed his next book on another complex female character, Wallis Simpson, the divorcee for whom Edward VIII abdicated the throne. It was a piece of history. It was deemed to be unofficial but when you look at it, its actually an official biography. Morton says if Diana was alive today, the extent of her involvement would still not be known. The book would forever have referred to information coming from those close to Diana when in fact it came from the Princess herself. It was a thin veil, even at the time, Morton says of his efforts to keep Dianas involvement under wraps. But it gave her some wriggle room in terms of determining her future. The book, and Dianas bombshell Panorama BBC TV interview three years later, changed forever the public view of the royal family and damaged the reputations of Prince Charles and his now wife Camilla so badly they have never fully recovered. The tapes were recorded throughout 1991 and 1992, when the marriage was in its death throes and Diana was desperate to break out of the grasp of the Firm the royal family and its courtiers who she had never felt supported or welcomed her. The book is not a perfectrecord of events at thetime libel lawyers refused to allow Morton to print that Charles, the heir to the throne, was having an extramarital affair with Camilla, so their relationship is referred to in the book as a secret friendship. And Diana never mentioned that she herself had embarked on secret affairs, and was in the throes of falling for wealthy art dealer Oliver Hoare at the time she was revealing damaging details about Charles and Camillas illicit affair. But it gives a warts-and-all look at the dysfunctional state of her marriage and shows how deeply unhappy and emotionally unwell Diana was. Morton, now 63, says the way the book had come about, through third-party interviews, was absolutely unique. Diana herself chose Morton as the person to whom she wanted to tell her side of the story and he obtained the information through the help of Dr James Colhurst, a friend of Mortons and an old and trusted friend of Dianas. Colhurst would go to Kensington Palace, read Mortons questions to Diana, SECRET DIANA TAPES The bombshell book, Diana: Her True Story, rocked Britain and its royal family to the core even though nobody knew it had been based on her own secret recordings, writes Ellen Whinnett
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