The failed marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales has finally reached the modern celebrity age: Both parties have gone on television to give their side of the story.
Monday night, in an extraordinarily candid interview that the BBC estimated had been watched by 15 million people in Britain, Diana, the estranged wife of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, described herself as being so beaten down by her loveless marriage that she sought refuge in self-mutilation and “rampant bulimia.”
When she discovered that her husband was continuing to see an old flame, Camilla Parker-Bowles, the princess said, she was struck by “a feeling of being no good at everything and useless and hopeless and failed in every direction.” She added, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Diana also disclosed that after she and Charles legally separated in 1992, she fell in love with James Hewitt, a former army officer who later described their torrid affair in a bodice-ripping book, “Princess in Love.”
She said that while the book was largely inaccurate, the two had been romantically involved.
“Yes, I adored him,” she said. “Yes, I was in love with him, but I was very let down.”
Diana’s decision to give the interview on the BBC’s Panorama program was most decidedly not sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth, her proper and old-fashioned mother-in-law, and was an emphatic attempt to take control of her public image after a string of embarrassing episodes in the past year or so.
These include the publication of “Princess in Love”; the breakdown of the marriage of a handsome rugby star, whose wife accused Diana of arranging secret trysts with her husband at the gym, and reports that she had made 300 crank phone calls to an art dealer named Oliver Hoare, slamming down the telephone when his wife answered.
Of the crank-call allegation, Diana said that she had occasionally telephoned Hoare, but denied that she had made all the calls.
“I did my own homework on the subject,” she said, “and discovered that most of the calls were made by a young boy.”
Last year, Charles gave a television interview of his own in which he said that he had never loved Diana, even during their wedding in 1981, and that he had committed adultery after their marriage had soured beyond repair.