"I Felt Manipulated and Used by Diana" but "I Feel Sorry for Diana, Charles and Camilla," Says Royal Author
A writer speaks out about the late Princess.
As each season of The Crown is released, controversy regularly erupts surrounding how the show portrays members of the Royal Family and how pivotal events went down. Season 5, hitting Netflix on November 9, continues to portray the romance and scandals surrounding the infamous love triangle between Princess Diana, King Charles, and Queen Camilla. While the streaming service issues a disclaimer stating that it is a "fictional dramatization… inspired by real events," people still have major feelings about it and tend to lash out at the writers (including Peter Morgan) and producers.
Now, one royal author is speaking up about what it is like being at the center of the storm, speaking from her own experiences about writing a book, Princess in Love, about the late Diana.
In a new essay for Telegraph Anna Pasternak explains that when she published her book in 1994, which detailed Diana's five-year-long affair with James Hewitt, she was the target of the late royal's many fans. She also maintains that it took her several years to recover from the backlash.
She explains that Hewitt "kissed and told" her when she was writing the book and portrayed Diana in a light that many didn't want to see. "At Hewitt's behest, I wrote an anodyne series of articles for The Daily Express about his friendship with Diana, detailing how she did the washing-up at Hewitt's mother's cottage. Hewitt told me that he was only speaking to me because Diana had asked him to – although the series never hinted at an affair, it just showed them as good friends. Diana was in constant contact with him during this time," she writes. "He said that she thanked him on the phone for 'talking, as you know I can't. At least people will know the truth.'"
She continues to explain that Hewitt told her the entire story. "I sat in Devon pubs, stunned, as he told me the full jaw-dropping truth about his relationship; how he helped support her through her rampant bulimia, her frenzied anger over Camilla's affair with Charles and how snubbed she felt by the Palace."
"Naturally, I was completely unaware at this time of how manipulative Diana needed to become in order to survive. Oblivious to her guile, when Charles admitted in his June 1994 television interview that his marriage had 'irretrievably broken down,' Hewitt rang me in the ad break. He said Diana was worried Andrew Morton's second book, due out that autumn, with which she had not cooperated, would expose their affair in unflattering terms. She insisted to Hewitt that if the world could see that their love was genuine, and could understand why she had turned to him in the face of Charles's rejection, they would not condemn her," she continues.
She also adds that Diana was the one who wanted Hewitt to speak out, which ultimately was his demise. "However, the greater injustice remains that Hewitt, whose life was ruined by his confession, would never have spoken out in the first place without Diana's encouragement and consent. And nor would I," she writes, adding that when the book was published, nobody believed her. "In 1994, no one believed that the royal marriage was as bad as The Crown details, even after Morton's book. So I was flayed alive in the press."
"People always ask if I regret writing the book. I regret the toll it took on my family and my reputation. I regret any hurt caused to the Royal family, as that was never my intention. But I don't regret writing the truth of a relationship that played a significant part in Royal history – Hewitt was a crucial ballast for Diana when she was at her most unstable," she writes. "It took me ages to realise that I felt manipulated and used by Diana. Now, firmly Team Camilla, I feel sorry for Diana, Charles and Camilla. Each of them suffered at the hands of an unrelenting monarchy."
In the end, Hewitt was "discarded by Diana when she moved into a faster, flashier social set," she continued. "But he and his family stood by her when she was at her most unstable. 'I would have died for Diana,' Hewitt told me. 'Instead, I've died a million times inside.' I know the feeling."