This lovingly written book offers a rare glimpse inside the life of the real Diana, revealing casual, contemplative moments, daily routines, and simple pleasures at home; the secret forays she took, often hiding in plain sight in various disguises, to Hampstead Heath and the jazz clubs of Soho; illuminating insight into her sometimes mercurial changes in temperament, stormy friendships, and complex relationship with the press; her deepest feelings about Prince Charles, Camilla Parker-Bowles, the royal family, and her two cherished sons, Princes William and Harry; the shocking truth about Diana's one true love and how losing him led her into the arms of playboy millionaire Dodi Fayed; and the astonishing stages of Diana's healing and personal growth, as she transformed herself from emotionally defeated victim to confident and self-reliant role model for millions of women around the world.
A beautiful tribute to the remarkable woman behind the image, here is Diana as we have never seen her before--frank and off-guard, in leggings and plain T-shirts, honest and open and completely at ease. Full of penetrating insight, startling new revelations, and sixteen pages of candid color photographs, Diana: The Secret Years brings the People's Princess vividly to life for the people who love her--and who continue to celebrate her enduring memory and lasting legacy.
|Product dimensions:||4.48(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.99(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I had watched the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer through a haze of anaesthetic and pain, recovering from minor surgery in a London clinic. Seeing her that day, I felt that we were connected in a very powerful way, and that at some time in the future this connection would be proved. There was nothing logical about this premonition, and later I put it down to my drug-altered state of mind. Truthfully, I had taken no more interest in Diana before the marriage than had the average person enchanted by the heady idea of it all. To this day I still don't understand why I felt such certainty, but some insights defy analysis. Years later, however, when Diana and I knew each other very well, we were to agree that in some past life we might have been cousins, sisters, perhaps even mother and daughter. It seemed to be the only way to explain the depth of the rapport between us.
But like most people on that peerless July day in 1981 I merely thought that the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana was a glorious piece of royal theatre. I wished them both well, shared in something of the world's romantic optimism about them, and returned to dealing with my own life.
Sixteen years later, in the early hours of 31 August 1997, I was in bed at home when I sleepily took a call from a friend who gave me the news of the car accident in Paris, after which I turned on the television. Astonishingly, I can't remember who rang, although I do remember my young nephew calling soon afterwards to ask if I needed him to come over. And I recall trying to reach the journalist Richard Kay, a true friend to the Princess, and to me.
I have very little recollection of the daysafter her death. I went into suspended animation, my emotions frozen. Although this might seem to be in chilly contrast to the massive nationwide--indeed, worldwide-- ood of grief for Diana, it was nevertheless an expression of the same terrible sense of shock. Most of the millions who laid owers down or signed condolence books were marking a genuine and deeply felt sadness for the waste of a woman who, although they had never met her, had somehow managed to touch human nerves and chords with her extraordinary magic and inherent goodness. It was not quite the same for me, however.
I'm not saying that Diana's death affected those of us who really knew her in a more important way, but that the grief, being personal, was differently powerful. Now, as I look back on my friendship with her, I see a thousand shimmering glimpses of the complex, caring, sometimes capricious, but always human princess. I feel privileged to have those memories. When someone you really care for dies there is often a frustrating sense of un nished business. There is not a single day when I do not want to complete old, interrupted conversations, or share a funny anecdote with her, or simply give her a hug. I have to remind myself that love is not buried with the cof n any more than friendship is always begun with a formal handshake.
Ours had begun, it seems, with my premonition on her wedding day, although neither of us knew of it at the time. Only a month later, something else was to have a much more immediately profound effect on me. Yet this family crisis was to draw me inexorably and, perhaps inevitably, towards Diana.
When, in a hospital in August 1981, I saw a rainbow aura emanating from the motionless body of my nineteen-year-old sister Rachel, who had been severely injured in a road accident days before, I found that I could communicate with her, despite the coma that she would remain in for many months. I began to wonder if I had some real healing gift beyond vague instincts which I'd been aware of for some time. Over countless visits I saw how if I placed my hands near--not on--Rachel and concentrated whilst quietly speaking loving, encouraging words, the needle on the machine monitoring her heart would icker and then jump. Intuitively, I somehow saw that her aura and spirit were oating above her physical body, and in some way I knew that I could help Rachel to pull the two forces together. Much later, I learned that hearing is the strongest of the senses, and that it continues to work however comatose a person might seem to be. Without considering my gift very much at the time, and certainly without quite yet bel
ieving that I could truly be a healer, my bond with my desperately ill sister nevertheless shaped me.
Indeed, to a signi cant extent I owe the rest of my life to Rachel, for through her survival I was made to confront the reality of my abilities: no longer could I imagine that they were accidents, coincidences or just some slight talent that could not be developed. Don't mistake me--the credit for Rachel's recovery is due to the care she received, but I do know that when the hospital had all but given up on her I had absolute belief that through love a great part of her could be saved. There is much truth in the old cliché about life being sustained by hope.
Years later, I found out that Rachel had met Diana--long before Idid--when the young Princess of Wales visited the small unit in the Northamptonshire hospital where a crucial stage of Rachel's long recovery was accomplished. Some of Rachel's very rst, newly relearned words might well have been to Diana.
Little in my background could have steered me towards, far less prepared me for, anything so unconventional as working as a professional healer. We lived in a large house in a North London suburb and my father, Harold, was a successful clothing manufacturer with a factory in the East End. He had happy memories of playing with Ronnie Scott and his band at jazz clubs before he acquired all his domestic and professional responsibilities, and was capable at times of reverting to an earlier wildness and unconventionality. My mother, Frances, was beautiful and, like Dad, artistic and poetic, so I suppose I inherited a little talent and some reckless instincts from both of them. But we were far from bohemian as a family. For my two younger sisters and me, life was fairly ordered, and my teenaged rebellions were sti ed rather than encouraged.
Lots of teenaged girls avidly read their horoscopes but this all seemed far too tame for me. My best friend at school, Julia, was interested in palmistry and I fancied myself as something of a seer, so when we were about fourteen we formed an occult group and placed an advertisement in the Jewish Chronicle for members. My parents maintained an amused, detached tolerance about this: certainly I was never mocked or admonished. Meetings were held at Julia's parents' house near by. It was all perfectly innocent and harmless, and rooted mainly in a fascination with what the future might hold. At some level, however, I must have been seriously driven, because when I was seventeen I joined the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain.
But then I left school and had to get a job. Firstly, and very brie y, I worked in one of those couture dress shops where sales assistants attered 'Madam' into expensive and unwise purchases because their commission depended upon it. After two or three days of informing potential customers that their favoured out ts didn't suit them at all, I was sacked. I then thought I'd try being a secretary, reasoning that, as I could play the piano, typewriter keys would be a doddle. I was proved right, and enjoyed my year working for a children's charity for ú10 a week, even though it took me a little while to get the hang of carriage return and carbon copies.
Other of ce jobs followed and then there was a spell at my father's Old Street factory where we made clothes for big, big women. Even so, I learned a lot about the fashion business and despite the fact that, ironically, as the boss's daughter I was granted no favours and had to work like a skivvy, I really enjoyed it. Indeed, I think I could have made a career in that world. But then, just as I had landed a job with the distinguished designer Polly Peck as a fashion sketcher--something which would have combined my new skills with my frustrated artistic abilities--I tore the tendons in my hand and had to have surgery followed by three months' physiotherapy. By the time I was able to draw again the job had gone to someone else.
Circumstance had taken me to a place of healing, and after my recovery I began to work where I had been mended, as a secretarial temp at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. At rst I simply led X-ray cards, then I learned something about radiography, and eventually I became a fully edged medical secretary for a specialist in endocrinology. I now began to feel like a frustrated doctor, particularly as I had by then read widely about the in uence of our glands, the whole complicated glandular system which affects our physical and emotional health so much. But I didn't seriously consider plunging into a formal medical training because by then, thanks to a wonderful and in uential friend and my experience with Rachel, I was much more attuned to alternative methods of healing. Seven or eight years had passed and although Rachel had short-term memory problems, and always will have, I had seen how much better she was. I was certain that my silent willing for her recovery helped, and I tentatively trusted my
powers enough to offer informal advice to friends.
Accident-prone as ever, I fractured my coccyx in 1990, having slipped on some spilled milk in a supermarket. Hardly the most profoundly mystic of conversions, but that's what it turned out to be. After several years of pain and mind-numbing paperwork, legal aid and persistence, I was awarded some money in compensation. In the meantime, however, I had been forced to give up full-time work. As it happened, though, knowledge of my abilities as a healer had spread by word of mouth, and I was able to scrape a living by seeing people at home. By now I was particularly interested in working with clients' auras, the extraordinary waves of colour that can be seen to surround a human body, colours which will alter with mood and with the state of an individual's health. These auras are no less than a map of the psyche and the well-being, or otherwise, of each of us. (For an explanation of some of my methods, and of Diana's interest in becoming a healer, see Appendix.)
Only a few decades ago many people found it hard to accept the idea that physical and emotional chemistry can in uence human behaviour. Today, however, most people understand that although such matters can't always be logically explained, their intuitions and impulses are often correct, however mysterious they may seem. I do appear to have an acute understanding of individuals' auras, and as a result I can see how and why some of the situations into which they have got themselves may be harmful or, conversely, for the best. This understanding is the basis from which some of my work stems. And my pre-eminent skill seems to be dealing with stress and offering healing in those circumstances.
From 1990, therefore, after my accident, I was working as a part-time healer. Of course I endured criticism and dismissive remarks from some members of the conventional medical establishment and occasionally this hurt--but I had faith in my work, and my results, so I continued. Nor did I always charge if I felt that my client would be further stressed and counter-productively strained by worrying about a bill.
My association with Diana began in 1993, the chance result of her well-known interest in alternative medicine. I have rarely met anyone so greatly in need of physical and emotional repair.
Her trust in me was rooted in the very fact that she was reassured that I was not on the same social circuit as other friends. There was no danger of me blurting out things to people to whom she might have been sending out different messages from her complicated private agenda. I was to learn that Diana was a great compartmentalizer, and she carved out a very precise box for me in her life. Few other people ever entered it. This didn't offend me, in fact it suited me well: I had no wish to be part of her society life. I just hoped that our friendship would enable her to cope with the darker facets of her life with greater con dence and assurance.
I don't think that she had a loving, accepting and understanding circle of friends when she was a little girl, or even as a young woman. Later, when she was Princess of Wales and so many people were making demands upon her, or courting her attention, or attering her, she had even fewer opportunities to make real friends. That is why, I believe, she responded to me, and why we gradually came rst to trust each other, and then to become friends. The fact that I was several years older than she, and came from a suburban Jewish background which could scarcely have contrasted more with her privileged, patrician one, made no difference. True communication recognizes no formal boundaries or obstacles.
As with some of my clients, I knew that I could send healing energies to Diana through touch and presence, and even simply down the telephone. Nor did I take a judgemental line with her as a conventional psychotherapist might have done. The very fact that Diana trusted me, a friend and informal adviser, more than some of the specialists towards whom her family, and her husband's, tried to lead her suggests that, in talking over her problems with me, she was expressing a little rebellion of her own. I don't think she ever quite forgave some of Prince Charles's relations or influential friends for suggesting, when she and Charles were still together, albeit very unhappily so, that she be consigned to some residential clinic for treatment. (Diana mentioned to me that they had wanted her to go to 'a nut house' or a 'loony bin' but that she had refused to go. She always seemed completely compos mentis to me.) My methods are considerably more gentle.
About that first meeting late in 1993. I remember the Princess's formal suit, her huge Chanel handbag, her wide smile and her insistence that I address her as 'Diana'. I also remember feeling that about three great truckloads of negative emotional waste were extracted that afternoon while we talked and I analysed her aura.
Some time later I was shocked to see on her traces of the scratches and scabs of recent self-mutilation. I thought I detected rakings from the evenly spaced tines of a fork in the patterns of scraping, but whatever the instrument used, all the marks would have been concealed by everyday clothes.
The public had been led to suppose that Diana's tendency to attack herself had ceased years ago. In this the public had been misled, however. A deep build-up of residual pain resulting from the end of her doomed affair with Captain James Hewitt in the early 1990s, coupled with a desperately unsuccessful attempt to form a relationship with someone else shortly afterwards, had left Diana as damaged as ever. She had recently been trying to wound herself in a misguided attempt to win the love and sympathy of a man she felt was neglecting and rejecting her.
Already emotionally weakened by the death of her father, Earl Spencer, in 1992, Diana bore the physical and emotional scars of a fragile heart broken twice in recent succession, as well as her greatest pain--the anguish brought on by the death throes of a marriage which, even as late as 1994, she still hoped could be saved.
Obviously, at our rst meeting, I could only observe the Princess and silently draw some conclusions which were themselves worrying enough, even though she wasn't then marked by self-laceration. When I saw the scabs and scratches soon afterwards I still felt that I did not yet know her well enough to pass any comment; indeed, it was to be some time before I could be quite open with her. Even the surprising informality of our early meetings was unnerving. Diana enabled me to overcome most of my shyness almost at once, although despite her friendly manner I could sense, as well as see, how troubled she was.
From the start I could feel the depth and force of her tensions. I suppose I must have released some of them because at one point she smiled and said I had 'otherworldly' eyes. I could only mumble back something about how extraordinary her own eyes were. I was there to make a start--things were unlikely, I reminded myself, to be mended, let alone perfected, all at once. And yet what began as a consultation shifted over the next few years as Diana and I became close.
The remarkable thing about Diana, even during that rst meeting, was that she was so receptive to ideas that other people might have dismissed. Some time later, presumably having felt that some emotional toxins had been drawn away from her body, she asked me if I could do the same for buildings, and suggested that I might clear some of the 'ghosts' of Kensington Palace one day. I wasn't ready for that yet, and neither, actually, was she. Thus, my rst visit to the palace that was her home only took place after we had established the beginnings of a deep trust. She laughed in disbelief, however, when I asked for her address as we made this arrangement, and said I must have been the only person in the world who didn't know where she lived.
When my father died in 1996, for months I was too upset to work much at all. One of the people who helped me in my grief was Diana. She herself had a raw and recent memory of the death of a beloved father, in the same year in which she and Prince Charles had separated. Nor did the fact that her relationship with her father had often been stormy stem the force of her grief. Often, in fact, things are worse for the child when a parent dies before old wounds and misunderstandings have been resolved and laid to rest, buried at the funeral alongside the cof n. In 1996, however, the tables were turned, for then it was Diana who supported me, hugged me as we wept together. No matter where she was, there was no time, night or day, at which she would not be willing to talk to me on the telephone and help if she could. She had a healer's instincts--I know this now.
There were times when I had to ask Diana 'Who's the healer here?' because I would talk to her about troubles in my own life that I seldom discussed with anyone else. She could be very supportive and took a real interest in my fears and worries, as she did in my family. I had, for instance, something of a weight problem when I rst met her. I had put on weight when a serious relationship collapsed two years before I met Diana, and I was having trouble in shedding it. I could talk to her about this, and found her constructively sympathetic, observing that so great had been the emotional pain generated by the collapse of my relationship that I was holding on to my weight both in self-protection and in physical proof that my relationship had once been solid and demonstrably real. She described my weight as armour, simultaneously protecting me from further injury and repelling men so that the chance of another potentially hurtful relationship became remote. By coincidence, perhaps, I was soon able to take control
of this physical problem of mine and little by little have lost much of the excess weight.
By then our relationship had altered slightly, for we had become friends and she had learned to trust me when she needed advice. I offered everything I could with all my heart, and I can never forget that it was Diana--in all her patience and generosity--who helped me to pick up my own crazy fragments, to live again and work again. For this gift of support and strength alone I will always remember her with the deepest affection, gratitude and respect.
Diana wasn't perfect. Like all humans she was paradoxical, capricious, dif cult at times, troubled, mercurial and inconsistent, as well as loyal, brave and affectionate. Recognition and acceptance of her complexities does not diminish her. I take it as a compliment that she exposed all her sides to me--as her true friend.
From the Hardcover edition.
What People are Saying About This
A Fascinating Insight into Diana's Last Years From a True Insider.
Diana asked me to write this book.
It was in February 1997. She was sprawled on one of the sofas in her private sitting room at Kensington Palace and I had adopted my customary and comfortable place on the floor, propped up on the large stuffed fake hippopotamus in front of the hearth. We had been laughing like drains as she recounted another little story about her life--the real thing, her version--not the tabloids' or Buckingham Palace's. Yet again there had been a TV programme that evening which had got things all wrong. She dabbed at her eyes with a Kleenex, laughed again and ordered me, one day, to write a book and 'tell it like it is.'
'They'll say I'm the nutty princess and that you're the nutty psychic,' she warned, quite cheerfully, 'but I want you to tell the truth. It'll be about time.'
The Daily Mail journalist Richard Kay, one of her other close friends, was with us as we watched the documentary. Diana had been particularly amused during the programme by the neat turn of her butler Paul Burrell's calves, for he had been filmed wearing livery during his days as a footman at Buckingham Palace. But her request--indeed, demand--for truth from us was utterly serious.
She was so tired of the misquotes, the misunderstandings and the misjudgements. That afternoon she was quite entertained by allusions in the programme to her caprices, her extravagances and sulks. Previously, such reports had often angered her, but by then she had become strong enough to laugh sometimes, and to appoint me as the person who was one day to correct the distorted image and to explain her. By now she trusted me to tell a different and more truthful story. I made her a promise then and I am keeping it now.
At the time, as the afternoon had developed into an evening of chatter and giggles, it did not seem like a demand, far less an obligation. But since Diana's death my thoughts have turned back to that conversation. In life she was frequently misunderstood and misquoted, but at least then she was able to employ her own ways of setting records straight. Now only those who truly knew and loved her can do so.
She was undoubtedly a strong young woman, but even the strong feel pain, and a compulsion to rail against injustice. That Diana was also unusually sensitive made her swan-gliding, lofty, apparent indifference to criticism especially difficult for her to maintain. To me this explains her ability to release her pains in both laughter and tears when we were together--for she could trust very few people when she needed to express her true self. She had, perforce, become an expert dissembler, fibber and manipulator. She had many masks, and I think it was a relief for her when she could sometimes drop them.
By then we were friends but even so, or possibly because of this, I sometimes had to be forthright with Diana, and while this could be the cause of brief friction between us, it was this very trait which made her confident that I would tell the truth about her and not be intimidated by anyone who tried to stop me. She knew that in her I usually saw a cheerful young woman who loved life and men and good food and fun--someone very far from the pathetic, neurotic and lonely creature that she was often represented as being. She knew, too, that people underestimated her intelligence and wildly overestimated her self-obsessions--indeed, she had reached the point at which she found it relatively flattering when she was described in the press as being a 'loose cannon' within the royal family and the Establishment. Diana might not yet have fully matured into the woman she believed she was destined to be, but she wanted the world to know about her recovery and that it was a triumphant expression of independence and purpose. She wanted me to set that record straight.
Sometimes I'd find her, irritated and stretched on one of the sofas in the little sitting room, a tabloid newspaper strewn around her feet. Even the fact that some tiny detail in a story about her public or private life was wrong would enrage or frustrate her because, in her position, she knew she should appear to be above such concerns and yet she needed to straighten things out somehow. Even if the bald facts of a story were correct she still yearned to be able to offer her interpretation of things. But how could this be squared with her need for privacy? Certain privileged journalists would be pleased to take her call and write a story to correct things, or even to offer misleading information, but Diana knew that doing this too often would alienate writers on other, rival, newspapers. Since these might then fan the negative rumours which centred upon her alleged wish to manipulate people, her supposed self-pity and her aggressive use of the telephone, she was in a near-impossible situation. Desperate to put across her side of things and to have her version of the truth known, she was still miserably aware that if she attempted to intervene yet further gossipy spins could be put on whatever she said.
All I could do was listen. And advise as any friend would. I was well aware that my own background enabled me to be no more, or less, than a friend to Diana. Whatever the reasons for our first meeting, these had become irrelevant history by the time she aired her frustrations to me at Kensington Palace. It wasn't quite like Strangers on a Train because by then we knew each other quite well, but I was aware that it was sometimes easier for Diana to explain things to me, simply because our other lives were so different.