Plot Summary (From Amazon) : Diana: Her True Story was originally published in 1992 under the guise of a quasi-authorized biography, with mostly unnamed courtiers and royalty as the accredited sources. It instantly became a sizzling, international bestseller that lanced the boil of Windsor family dysfunction, triggering a chain of events that led to Charles and Diana’s divorce. After her tragic death in 1997, Morton revealed that Diana had not only been the main source for the book, but had also edited his original drafts for accuracy. In return for this gold mine of information, Diana wanted complete anonymity for fear of retaliation from the queen–a fear that seems reasonably justified after reading the icy, inhuman portrayal of Her Majesty.
Beyond the racy and irregular royals, Diana: Her True Story gives a full account of the princess’s rocky childhood, her bouts with bulimia, the rejection she felt by Charles and the royal family, and her tenacious ability to overcome adversity.
Let’s skip the soundtrack on this one, shall we? It feels a little too light-hearted for the subject matter.
After watching the 2010 mini-series “The Queen,” I was intrigued to read the scandalous book that brought so much angst to the royal family by its very publication. At the time, this biography drew the curtain back on what Diana’s life was really like among the Windsors, and the immense sense of isolation she felt. Initially published as a collection of stories from anonymous sources, Andrew Morton later revealed that a great deal of the text came directly from the Princess herself.
I can see how the book would have been a total scandal at the time, from shattering the image of the “People’s Princess” by revealing a woman at war with her own demons, to portraying the monarchy as cold and out of touch. It’s particularly poignant now, from what we are shown of the relationship that Prince William and Kate cultivated over a number of years, to view the seeming contrast between William’s marriage and his mother’s.
The book portrays Prince Charles horribly, as an emotionally stunted creature who missed his chance with his true love Camilla Parker-Bowles, and settled for Diana to quiet the demands for an heir. He even informs Diana that should “this marriage business” not work out, he would return to his bachelor ways. He made no secret throughout their marriage of his continued closeness to Camilla, even wearing cufflinks from her on his honeymoon with Diana. His disappointment upon the birth of Prince Harry (instead of his wished-for daughter) was the emotional nail in the coffin of his marriage to Diana, and their relationship never recovered.
Diana is depicted as unspeakably lonely and trapped within the royal system, feeling that she could trust very few and that every aspect of her life was on display. She battled depression and bulimia (which was emphasized far too many times throughout the book), while struggling to find her own sense of purpose. She received very little positive reinforcement from the royal family on her own successful public image, and frequently had to deal with Charles’ jealousy about her popularity. (PS- Did I mention the bulimia?)
All in all, this was a very somber read, but it was clear how much joy William and Harry brought their mother. She in turn exposed them to experiences not typically given to the royal family, including bringing them on her many charity visits. Her influence is visible in the open way they interact with the public today.
Although I enjoyed the subject matter, I wasn’t overly fond of Morton’s writing style, which tended to lean a little too much toward name-dropping and was extremely dry. I’m currently reading “Elizabeth The Queen,” and the difference between the authors’ styles is extremely evident. I can’t seem to get enough of Sally Bedell Smith’s charming anecdotes about HRH.
Three out of Five Scandalous Phone Calls.