In his latest book on the Princess of Wales Christopher Andersen takes an in-depth look at how Diana's death affected the Royal family. The best-selling author previously wrote a book about Diana's life and death. Now, he discusses the many times Diana predicted her own death and why she feared for Camilla's life, too. Andersen even deals with the public pressure William and Harry faced following their mother's death. Here, an excerpt.
Sunday, August 31, 1997
He took a few steps toward the body, gasped, then reeled back as if struck by an unseen hand. Beatrice Humbert, the diminutive head nurse at Paris's Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, began to reach out to steady Prince Charles but stopped herself as he regained his composure.
"He was absolutely white," she recalled, "as if he could not believe what he was seeing." Humbert understood too well. Ever since Princess Diana had been brought in from the operating room where surgeons had tried in vain to save her, nearly everyone who walked into the second-floor room with its bright, freshly painted robin's egg blue walls struggled to keep from fainting.
"It was just too much to take in," Humbert said, "too much, too much" "Charles was "crushed," said another nurse on the scene, Jeanne Lecorcher. "I had always thought of him and all the royals as very cold and unfeeling, and like everyone else I knew that he really loved Camilla. So I was very impressed by how emotional the Prince became. Very impressed."
No one was more surprised by this reaction than Charles. He thought he had had ample time to rebound from the initial shock. After all, it had been thirteen hours since he was awakened at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with the shocking news that his ex-wife had been injured and her lover, Dodi Fayed, killed in a Paris car crash. The first person Charles called was not the Queen, who was also at Balmoral enjoying the summer holiday with her children and grandchildren, but his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles. As she had done so many times over the years, Camilla reassured Charles that all would be fine. Diana was a young woman, Camilla pointed out, and they both agreed that she was in the best physical shape of her life; whatever her injuries, she was bound to pull through.
But she didn't. "My God, Charles," Camilla said, weeping, when he called back with the terrible news. "The boys!" She then grabbed a pack of cigarettes off the nightstand, lit up, and puffed away nervously as her lover sobbed over the phone. It was to be expected that Charles would be devastated over the loss of his sons' mother. They agreed that it would do no good to wake William and Harry now; best to let them get their last good night's sleep before hearing the news.
Charles and Camilla were also weeping for another, less selfless reason. "My darling,' Charles asked her through his tears, "what is going to happen to us now?" In the nearly five years since then-Prime Minister John Major announced before the House of Commons that the Prince and Princess of Wales were officially separating, the public had shown signs of finally warming to the long-despised Camilla. Just a few weeks earlier, in the wake of a highly publicized fiftieth birthday party Charles threw for Camilla, surveys showed that 68 percent of Britons thought it was time for the couple to marry.