Diana: Closely Guarded Secret
Ken Wharfe, Robert Jobson
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The year 2017 will see the twentieth anniversary of Diana’s tragic death in Paris, an accident that could and should have been avoided. This memoir, first published in 2002, although a UK and USA bestseller, was not without its media detractors. Following her death in 1997 I later witnessed from my small office in St James’s Palace the rush to airbrush her memory. Spin doctors busied themselves paving the way for the acceptance of a woman about whom Diana was accused of being paranoid, while friends close to HM the Queen accused the late Princess of Wales of being ‘damaged goods’. The woman in question was Camilla Parker Bowles, now, as Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles.
Prince William and his brother Harry have since rescued their mother’s memory. She single-handedly worked to modernize the British monarchy, and to a considerable extent achieved this thanks to her engaging, humorous personality and her commitment, a commitment her sons continue to display to this day.
I lecture regularly, often about Diana and my time as her personal protection officer, despite early attempts by my former employer, the Metropolitan Police, to halt the memoir. Prior to its publication some eighty books had been written about the Princess; many more have been published since. Yet Diana: Closely Guarded Secret continues to be regarded as an astute and accurate account of her life, despite the length of time since its first publication. In the words of the renowned historian David Starkey ‘This is history, since Ken Wharfe was there.’
heart-rending. She relished the part she was playing, ladling huge portions of bean stew from the cooking pot into the bowls of the patient children. The press lapped up the photo opportunity and one British newspaper ran the headline the next day, ‘Dinner Lady – Diana serves up royal treat for hungry children’. Yet the experience had troubled the Princess. She was close to tears as we flew back to Harare, because she knew that she was returning to comfort and plenty, while these poor, hungry
Princess in my capacity as her Scotland Yard personal protection officer (PPO, or, in layman’s terms, her police bodyguard), during the most traumatic period of her life. For most of that time she was a joy to work with. As her senior protection officer it fell to me to deal with her more sensitive private engagements and public appearances, and my relationship with her was, by the very nature of the job, an extremely close one. Due to the unique position in which I found myself, however, it was
disembarked at Hong Kong for an official solo visit, told the story. She was exhausted, and she knew that their marriage was finally over. In Hong Kong the Prince was still smarting from the way his wife and the press had made a laughing stock out of him. He snapped bitterly at reporters for the next couple of days. At one stage he turned to the reporter he now regarded as Diana’s apologist, Richard Kay, as he stood behind a staircase looking through the banisters, and grunted, ‘That’s where you
hundred journalists, and because this was a private holiday, Buckingham Palace had not sent out a press secretary, so I was left with the problem. My job was security but I knew, as on Necker, that unless I took charge of the situation the Princess would be exposed to the worst kind of press intrusion, and the holiday that she so desperately needed would be ruined. For her part, Diana, while sympathetic to the problem I faced, was not prepared to bow to the pressure, even though she knew that the
flirtatious blue eyes …’ And of the separation: ‘At long last the sham was over. For Diana it was a moment of triumph. For Prince Charles it was a crushing defeat…’ The Princess was delighted when she read the article, and for a couple of days at least, it seemed that everywhere she went the magazine came too. Holden had hit the nail on the head for, reinvigorated, she was determined to show her estranged husband a clean pair of high heels in the battle for the hearts and minds of his future