A new book on the British royal family by Kitty Kelley details Princess Diana’s doomed marriage to Prince Charles and contains suggestions that Queen Elizabeth II was conceived by artificial insemination and that the Queen mother is illegitimate.
“The Royals,” due in stores Wednesday, relies heavily on unidentified sources and gives the British royal family the same tell-all treatment Kelley gave Frank Sinatra and Nancy Reagan in earlier unauthorized biographies. Diana is not unscathed but comes off better than some of her former in-laws.
“She certainly emerges, vulnerabilities and all, as the one person who can lay claim to royalty,” Kelley said in an interview Monday.
Though Diana’s death in an Aug. 31 car crash in Paris came after “The Royals” had been printed, the death and the ensuing outpouring of grief have affected plans for marketing the book. Warner Books moved up the publication date by six days, and People magazine canceled an excerpt for which it had paid $25,000, citing the “tragic circumstances.”
“The Royals” is not being published in Britain, where the law makes it easier to show libel and win large sums in damages than in the United States.
“Too much of it would have had to be deleted” for the book to be released in Britain, Kelley said, adding that that decision should not be interpreted as a lack of faith in her material.
“I feel very confident in this book. Every word,” she said.
Kelley, pictured holding an American flag on the book’s jacket, said she tried to bring objectivity to “The Royals.”
“It is a book written by an American and I say that because an American doesn’t curtsy,” she said.
Kelley said she attempted to give an “unblinking view” of the Windsors that includes both scandals and positive achievements. As examples of the latter, she cites Prince Charles’ devotion to philanthropy, Prince Andrew’s “dignity in the face of disgrace” after his divorce from Sarah Ferguson, and Prince Philip’s public chivalry and devotion to the Queen.
Of course, interest in the Windsors’ good works isn’t why Warner paid Kelley a $4 million advance and ordered a first printing of 1 million copies. Many readers will be looking for dirt.
Kelley obliges, airing the family’s “secrets of alcoholism, drug addiction, epilepsy, insanity, homosexuality, bisexuality, adultery, infidelity and illegitimacy,” all of which, she writes, “paled alongside their relationship with the Third Reich.”
Some of the most scandalous allegations - including the suggestion that the Queen Mother is the daughter of a Welsh maid - are simply presented as rumor.