Tony Blair: Meeting with Queen 'Difficult' After Princess Diana's Death

Photo: Tony Blair: Princes Diana Constantly Pursued, Almost Became Public Property
In Exclusive Interview with This Weeks Christiane Amanpour, Former UK PM Praises Bill Clinton, Defends Iraq Invasion

In an exclusive interview with "This Week's" Christiane Amanpour, former UK prime minister Tony Blair said it was difficult for him to convince the Queen of England to acknowledge the wave of loss and anger following Princess Diana's sudden death in 1997, the year Blair became prime minister.

VIDEO: Tony Blair Elected Prime Minister of U.K.
May 5, 1997: Tony Blair Elected PM of U.K.

"Partly because of the loss, but partly because of the circumstances in -- in which she died, there was also a sense of anger. Now, some of that anger was directed at the paparazzi, but some of it, I think, was -- was directed at the establishment that people felt had let her down in some way," Blair told Amanpour.

"In the end, the queen did that (honored Diana), I think, magnificently," but he added that the task to talk to her was difficult. "It was difficult for me because I was a new prime minister and I didn't really know the queen. And, you know, it was -- I was very nervous in and around her, as you would be."


In his new autobiography, "A Journey: My Political Life," Blair defines Diana as a person who "captured the essence of an era and held it in her hand. ... She was extraordinarily captivating," he wrote.

Watch Christiane Amanpour's interview with Tony Blair tonight on "World News," and Wednesday on "Good Morning America."

Although the cause of Diana's death was blamed on her driver's recklessness, several paparazzi who were chasing the car in Paris were arrested.

"She'd almost become such public property -- I mean if you read the accounts of press pursuing her and paparazzi and so on, you know, I get a certain amount, or a political leader gets a certain amount, a film star gets a certain amount," Blair said. "I don't think we had any idea what it was like for her. It was just a constant pursuit."

Blair also defends former President Bill Clinton, who he dubs his political soul mate in the book.

"I think he was one of the first people really to understand, to articulate how progressive politics couldn't be a rainbow collation, that you had to stand up and be connected with people, not activists, simply," Blair told Amanpour.

The three-term prime minister praised Clinton "as one of the smartest politicians I've come across," and expressed confidence in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading the Middle East peace negotiations.

Clinton's two-term presidency was almost derailed because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, an indiscretion that Blair wrote, "arose in part from his inordinate interest in and curiosity about people."

"Part of his genius [as] a politician is he is extraordinarily curious about people," Blair said today.

Blair also praised Hillary Clinton's negotiating skills, saying he is certain the secretary of state can confront all the challenges she is facing when it comes to international diplomacy.

"There is a lot on her shoulders. But she's completely capable of doing it," he said. "She's got the best type of political mind that knows where you meet the point of principle and knows where you need the subtlety and the compromise."

Blair is scheduled to receive the 2010 Liberty Medal from former President Clinton in Philadelphia on Sept. 13.

Blair: No Apologies for Iraq Attack

Blair took over the Labor Party's leadership in 1994 and spent three terms as prime minister, from May 1997 to June 2007.

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