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- August 31, 1998
- Vol. 50
- No. 7
A Lesson in Loss
Joined by Tragedy and Sorrow, Family or Fate, the People Whose Lives Were Forever Changed by the Death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Move On
A doting father, he has helped his sons bear the loss of Diana
He has made something of a career out of his angst over architecture. He's also passionate about polo, not to mention his place in history as next in line to the British throne. But the role that now most defines Prince Charles is that of single parent. And, like most people new to that task, he has spent much of this year figuring out how to juggle professional duties and parental responsibilities.
Racked by grief after Diana's death, Charles immediately canceled most of his engagements to be with his boys. And as time went on, he arranged, when school holidays allowed, to have them join him. In November, 13-year-old Prince Harry was at Charles's side during an official trip to South Africa, where they were entertained by Zulu dancers and the Spice Girls. Then, over Easter break, both brothers tagged along on a royal visit to Vancouver, followed by a skiing vacation at Whistler, B.C.
"The prince has warmed to the task of being a single parent," says British Press Association royals correspondent Peter Archer. He has engaged in public displays of affection—exchanging a goodbye kiss with William on Aug. 4, for example, as they boarded separate planes for a vacation in Greece—and indulged in kid-friendly outings, such as a trip with Harry July 6 to see a London stage performance of Dr. Doolittle. He has even been heard poking fun at himself. Meeting Doolittle's cast, Charles quipped, "They say I talk to plants; now I'm talking to a Pushmi-Pullyu."
The prince has also taken steps to make a place for his longtime love Camilla Parker Bowles in his family life. He has had some help. Her introductory tea with Prince William, 16, at Charles's St. James's Palace apartments on June 12, leaked to the press as a chance encounter, was in fact orchestrated by William. (Harry's introduction, at Highgrove, took place a few weeks later.)
It's a scenario Diana might have foreseen. "She would be rather irritated that the boys have met Camilla, especially as they probably quite liked her," says Majesty editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward. Still, says a Palace insider, "at the end of her life, Diana was more resigned to Charles's private life and wished him well."
According to her wishes, Charles enrolled Harry at Eton, where he will reside in William's house. As for William, "Charles wants to introduce him to his royal role, albeit gently," says Archer. For now, Charles's main goal is to provide the emotional support his sons need to heal. "Charles and the boys," Archer says, "are a close family."
PRINCES WILLIAM and HARRY
Diana's sons find solace and joy in the Windsors' embrace
On Aug. 23, 15,000 were expected to follow part of the route, from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey, taken by Diana's casket last year. On Aug. 31, the anniversary of her death, the Spencers will gather for a private ceremony at Althorp. But Princes William and Harry will be vacationing at Balmoral, where they always go in late August, and where, it is hoped, the familiar surroundings will bring them comfort.
"Up there nothing changes," says author Brian Hoey. The boys' companion Tiggy Legge-Bourke, 33, will be on hand (though presumably not for sports outings after her recent blunder in allowing the princes to abseil—rappeling headfirst down a steep incline—without helmets) as will their cousins Zara, 17, and Peter Phillips, 20, Princess Anne's children. Days will be spent shooting, fishing or biking. There will be movies too. "They like to watch them after dinner," says Hoey. "If it's a war film, Prince Philip will tell what the filmmakers got wrong. He used to make William laugh out loud."
In fact, William and Harry (who turns 14 on Sept. 15) seem to be adapting with ease. "The boys are doing surprisingly well, partly because they're not being pulled in so many directions [now that Diana is gone]," says Majesty's Seward. That isn't to say they don't miss their mother. Bubbly Harry now often seems lost in thought. "He's the one showing the effects of his loss," says the British Press Association's Archer. "But William could be storing up problems for later."
Though reporters have kept a respectful distance since Diana's death, it didn't help that a birthday surprise the boys had planned for their dad—a specially written play by Stephen Fry, starring Emma Thompson and the young princes—was spoiled by a newspaper report of it. Still, as a future king, says Archer, William "must learn to live with the legitimate interest of his subjects."
The Palace opens a window to the winds of change
She had suffered her share of setbacks in 1992, the year she called her annus horribilis. But the days immediately following Diana's death were among the bleakest for the Queen. The public's reaction to such gaffes as the family's retreating behind the doors of Balmoral and the Queen's refusal to break with protocol and fly a flag at half-mast—or at all—at Buckingham Palace in honor of the princess, even though the Queen wasn't in residence, was summed up by a headline in The Express: "Show Us You Care."
She got the message. On the eve of the funeral she addressed the nation live from Buckingham Palace. And within eight months the Queen, now 72, could be found on her first official foray ever to a pub (during a tour of Devon) and riding in a taxi (another first, to promote environmentally friendly liquefied petroleum fuel). Though some reforms—such as the disclosure of certain royal financial records—had been in the works for some time, "Diana's death provided the jolt that was needed," says the Queen's biographer Ben Pimlott. "She showed the way forward."
Indeed, last month the Queen even hinted that she had given up wearing fur except on her ceremonial robes. What's next: a nose ring?
Not likely (although body piercing has invaded the Palace: Princess Anne's daughter Zara is sporting a stud in her tongue). But there's no doubt that change is afoot in the hallowed House of Windsor. With the Queen's consent, Tony Blair's Labour government decommissioned the royal yacht Britannia, saving taxpayers some $12 million a year. Royal travel expenses became public, revealing, among other extravagances, the Queen's $17,600 trip aboard the royal train to 1997's Derby horse races. The Queen put up no resistance to the government's proposal to abolish primogeniture (an eldest son's right to precede an older sister to the throne). And, on her own initiative, the Queen pronounced an end to compulsory bowing and curtsying (though they're still appreciated).
Further fine-tuning of the Queen's image awaits the arrival of her new $368,000-a-year communications director, Simon Lewis, 39, who is due to start work in September. But the media are already impressed. "The Queen showed a new face to the nation," the Mail on Sunday editorialized after the monarch had chatted with rock singer Julie Thompson, 21, at a Buckingham Palace function in April. "She publicly embraced, for the first time, the generation that will decide the future of the House of Windsor and won it over."
Public opinion may be harder to sway. "We have become a lot less reverential and a lot less deferential," says royals author Brian Hoey. "People no longer believe royalty walks on water." But if they no longer rule the waves, the royals still serve a purpose. "The monarchy provides the social glue that binds people together," says Pimlott. And, as the headlines of the past year show, "people remain enormously interested in all things royal."
FRANCES SHAND KYDD
Her attempts to mend frayed family ties have failed
In another family it might have seemed a predictable way to spend a summer weekend. At the invitation of her former son-in-law Prince Charles, Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, spent two days in July visiting with him and grandson Prince Harry (Prince William was off with friends) at Highgrove, Charles's country estate in Gloucestershire. The trio dined and chatted and took walks together in Charles's prized garden. "Charles is keen for Harry and William to see [Mrs. Shand Kydd]," says the British Press Association's Archer. "She is family, after all."
True, but lately Little Red Riding-Hood might have less trouble recognizing her grandmother. Tucked away in her modest, three-bedroom home on Scotland's Isle of Seil—where she will probably mark the anniversary of Diana's death quietly—Shand Kydd, 62, has seen little of the princes since riding on the train with them to their mother's burial at Althorp last September. And despite the friendly weekend—a royal nod toward Diana's wish that her mother be consulted in the boys' upbringing—that is not about to change. "The meeting was simply a gesture," says one insider. "The Spencers are treated with the same disregard as they always have been."
Displays of togetherness are just as rare among the Spencer clan. "Shand Kydd has tried to draw the family together," says Archer. "But there has not been any great show of unity." In fact the matriarch appears to have found as much comfort with commoners as with her own titled kin. In a recent documentary for FOX-TV, she told of mingling—unrecognized—with the crowds of mourners outside Kensington Palace after Diana's death. And when she is not busy hand-writing replies to the many thousands of sympathy letters she has since received, the Roman Catholic convert is occupied with works of charity, such as the trip to Lourdes that she chaperoned last April for a group of disabled children. "She thinks that the way to keep Diana's memory alive," says Majesty magazine's Seward, "is to keep on with her good work."
The British public loses its taste for Champagne Charlie
In Britain the measure of a bounder can often be gauged by the number of his former lovers who have vented to the press. Earl Spencer, the man once known as Champagne Charlie, certainly has had his share. But Josie Borain, 35—the former Calvin Klein model who accompanied the earl to Diana's funeral and supported him through his messy divorce from wife Victoria before quietly dumping him in January—looked like a holdout. For a while.
"I found him calculating and manipulative," Borain finally blurted to the Mail on Sunday in July, adding that Spencer, 34, had cheated on her at least once and had had some 20 lovers during his marriage. "Generally," she said of their 10-month affair, "it was a bad investment, a waste of good-quality-loving time."
Harsh as that salvo was, it was just the latest in a year that saw the earl accused of all kinds of bad behavior, from disloyalty (for criticizing the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, of which his sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale is president, for not dispensing its monies with dispatch) to profiteering (by charging a $16 entry fee to the Diana museum he created at Althorp).
For his part, Spencer is "battered, but unbowed," by criticism of the Althorp memorial, he told his local newspaper The Northampton Chronicle. "If it was more subtle, it would be hard to deal with. But as it is, it is just ludicrous," he said of complaints such as those over the potential traffic snarls that could have accompanied the 152,000 pilgrims who visited in July and August. (No such problem arose.) "She was my sister after all... and if we are proud of what we are doing, then that is all we can achieve."
As for Spencer's golden moment at Diana's funeral, where he eulogized his sister eloquently while castigating the royal family, it is now at best a tarnished memory and at worst another excuse for a public flogging. "William and Harry did not appreciate it at all," says the British Press Association's Archer. "There was a relative—their uncle—criticizing their father, who is, after all, all they have left now."
Spencer has tried to continue Diana's legacy. Last month he took William abseiling. And in March he followed in Diana's footsteps to Cambodia to highlight the plight of victims of land mines. "He was horrified by what he saw," says Philip Dixon, chairman of the Cambodia Trust, which Diana had supported. "The corridors were full of beds of people in various degrees of disability."
If the experience changed him, then all the better, says former lover Chantal Callopy, 39, who supported her new friend Victoria Spencer through the acrimonious divorce in November. (In a settlement, Victoria got $3.2 million and her Capetown house; and she retained joint custody of children Kitty, 7, twins Eliza and Katya, 6, and Louis, 4, who will stay in Capetown, where Spencer also has a home.) "He has probably done a lot of soul-searching," Callopy says. "Maybe, with this charity work, he has found a niche."
Even Borain seems to have mellowed. "I have no animosity against Charles," she told PEOPLE. "He is not that bad a guy. He is just young and insecure like the rest of us."
LADY SARAH McCORQUODALE and LADY JANE FELLOWES
Keeping a sister's legacy alive and her boys in their hearts
Growing up, the Spencer girls were a study in contrasts: Sarah, the oldest, was the wildest of the bunch. Jane was considered quiet and dependable. Then came Diana, shy, pretty and eager to please the outgoing Sarah, whom she idolized from the start. "When Sarah returned home from West Heath School, Diana was a willing servant," Andrew Morton wrote in Diana: Her True Story, "unpacking her suitcases, running her bath, tidying her room."
Ironically, by the end of Diana's marriage, McCorquodale, now 43, had become her unofficial lady-in-waiting. "I think Sarah knew about Diana's affairs," says royals author Judy Wade. "In a way she even encouraged Diana to be wild and to have lovers." Meanwhile, Jane, 41, grew more distant from Di because of her own marriage—and loyalty—to Sir Robert Fellowes, who became the Queen's private secretary in 1990. Now, a year after Diana's death, the two sisters find themselves again in contrasting states: one thrust reluctantly into the public domain and the other constricted by her own grief.
Diana may have called her "the only person I know I can trust," but McCorquodale has had less success in winning the confidence of the British public. As president of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, she has borne the brunt of criticism that the fund has been slow to hand out its $132.8 million to charities and has accepted endorsement deals of questionable taste, associating Diana's memory with lottery tickets and margarine. (In March the fund dispensed its first $12.8 million to eight of Diana's favorite causes, and an additional $8 million is currently being distributed.) But a warmer reception may greet McCorquodale across the Atlantic. In the fall the fund will open an office in New York City. A town that saw a 300 percent jump in the number of newborns named Diana last fall is unlikely to balk at Princess of Wales keepsakes.
Yet the strain is beginning to show. "Sarah looks more tired, more drawn," says a royal watcher. "She has aged." Her three-hour commute twice a week from Lincolnshire—where she lives with her husband, Neil, a farmer, and their three children—to the fund's London office can't help. As for Fellowes, also the mother of three, her emotional state prevents her from pitching in. Still mourning deeply for Diana, who died before they could resolve the-strain between them, Fellowes has kept a low profile.
The sisters are like-minded on one subject: making time for Di's boys. They've attended Harry's Ludgrove soccer games and visited William at Eton. And though the boys' summer schedule has left little time for their aunts (they turned down an invitation to vacation with them and their cousins in Cornwall in August), the sisters are there for their nephews, says the British Press Association's Archer, "at a time when they need friendship and support."
Suddenly in the limelight, the former butler gets some heat
Diana called him "my rock," and onetime butler and confidant Paul Burrell, 40, continues to have to live up to the title. "Criticism makes him more resilient," says a friend of the man who was the only nonfamily member graveside at Diana's burial. Since then he has been appointed events and fund-raising manager for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (salary: $45,000) and also serves on the government's Memorial Committee, charged with creating a series of Diana commemoratives, including a £5 coin. Both jobs have brought controversy. In July newspaper columnists and locals took Burrell to task for his support of a scheme to build a $16 million memorial garden at Kensington Palace, which the art critic Brian Sewell publicly decried as nothing but "a focus for idiot tourists."
More difficult for Burrell, though, was overseeing the dismantling of Diana's 10-room Kensington Palace apartment in the months after her death and the dispersal of her possessions (furnishings and clothes went to Althorp, while her sons had their pick of her photos and beloved stuffed animals). According to an insider the space will remain empty "until the foreseeable future."
Burrell too has been uprooted. Last month he moved out of the three-bedroom apartment he and his wife, Maria, 42, and sons Alexander, 13, and Nicky, 10, occupied at the palace and into a converted barn in Farndon, Cheshire. "Paul is the last thread of the princess at Kensington," says an intimate of the still fiercely loyal Burrell. "The memories he has he will carry until he dies."
In his quest for privacy, the crash's only survivor goes home
As glamour goes, it's a world away from the Paris Ritz. That's just what Trevor Rees-Jones, 30, had in mind when he quit his desk job at Harrods in April to return to his hometown of Oswestry (pop. 15,000), 200 miles northwest of London. The former paratrooper, who spent last summer watching over his boss's playboy son Dodi Fayed on his travels with Princess Diana, now sells sneakers part-time at a sports store within walking distance of the two-bedroom cottage where he lives alone. (Estranged wife Susan, reported The Sunday Mirror, now lives with another man in the home she once shared with Rees-Jones.)
Meanwhile, twice-weekly physiotherapy sessions, to repair an injury to his left arm that he suffered in the crash, have paid off. Health wise, "he is coming along well," says a pal. He has also developed a friendship with his physiotherapist Helen Calaghan, 27. But Rees-Jones won't know if—and whom—he can sue for damages until fall, when the Paris judge investigating the crash issues his findings. Until then, says Rees-Jones's lawyer Ian Lucas, "it is difficult for him to move forward with his life."
CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES
Diana's longtime rival is using the front door again
You've got to hand it to her: Over the past six years, Parker Bowles has been condemned, resurrected and buried again. Yet she has come through it all with her humor intact, even using—prior to the tragedy in Paris—Diana's epithet on herself by answering the phone in her Wiltshire home, "Rottweiler here." Friends aren't surprised. "Camilla is very good at laughing at herself," says author Jilly Cooper. "That's what has saved her through the appalling mauling she has had."
Nor has she ever been anything but discreet. After news of her private June 12 meeting with Prince William at St. James's Palace appeared in newspapers last month, Parker Bowles was quick to accept the resignation of part-time aide Amanda MacManus, who confessed to inadvertently leaking the story in pillow talk with her husband, a Times newspaper executive. (He then mentioned it to a pal in New Zealand, who in turn passed it on to his tennis partner, The Sun's chief reporter, John Kay.)
Parker Bowles's patience began to pay off in the weeks before Diana's death. On July 18, 1997, she and Charles appeared together openly—though privately—at the 50th-birth-day party he threw for her at High-grove. "Having been the most vilified person in the country, Camilla had just about crawled out of the bunker," says her biographer Christopher Wilson. Even Diana had backed off. "She had to accept the relationship," says Majesty's Seward, "because it wasn't doing her any good being obsessive about it."
Diana's death, however, "was bad news for Camilla," adds Seward. "All the love that had been directed toward Diana could easily be directed in hatred toward her." After lying low for months afterward, Parker Bowles is testing the waters once more. How the public responds will be clear when she and Charles appear publicly as a couple. (Bets are on the Oct. 29 wedding of Santa Palmer-Tomkinson, the daughter of Charles's close friends Charles and Patty, to Simon Sebag-Montefiore.) Meanwhile, Parker Bowles appears to have won the acceptance of those who matter most. At their father's birthday play on July 31, William and Harry sat her in a place of honor, next to Charles. "They don't see her as a villain," says author Wade. "She too has had a rough time."
The first doctor at the crash site refuses to scapegoat the paparazzi
Frederic Mailliez crosses Paris's Alma Bridge nearly every day on his way to work and marvels at the crowds gathered at the site, now an unofficial memorial to Princess Diana, who was fatally injured in the tunnel below. "I'm amazed people were so affected by her death that they still come to that spot," he says.
Mailliez, 37, has reason to be more affected than most. A physician specializing in emergency care who works for SOS Médecins, a private 24-hour house-call service, he was off-duty, driving home, when he came upon the crash moments after it happened. Sizing up the situation—two dead, two seriously injured—he rushed to his car to phone for assistance, grabbed a handheld respirator and ran back to help the princess, while a volunteer fireman who happened by tended to bodyguard Rees-Jones until ambulances arrived minutes later. It wasn't until the next morning that Mailliez learned his patient's identity. "I was surprised," he says. "People surrounded the car; some had cameras, but they never got in my way." In fact, the only obstacle was his lack of equipment. "It was frustrating to be there with almost nothing but my bare hands," he says. "I couldn't even take her blood pressure."
Yet he has the comfort of knowing he did his best—and he believes-the others who treated the victims did too. Might Diana have lived if she had reached the hospital sooner? "It's impossible to say," Mailliez says. "I have spoken to emergency and thoracic-surgery experts who don't believe they could have saved her." As for the paparazzi, all nine of whom are still under investigation for manslaughter and non-assistance to accident victims, he says, "I have nothing to reproach them for."
Mailliez, who has testified three times about the crash, will do so again in September. Still, for all the attention, he insists, "this experience has not changed me. The only contribution I have to make is to tell the truth. I feel I'm the guardian of a part of Princess Diana's memory."
Anne-Marie O'Neill and Kim Hubbard
Simon Perry and Nina Biddle in London and Cathy Nolan in Paris
- Simon Perry,
- Nina Biddle,
- Cathy Nolan.
April 25, 2015
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