The Princess Di You Don't Know

ByABC News via logo
June 13, 2001, 4:55 PM

N E W  Y O R K, June 14 -- Princess Diana is one of the most written-about women of our times. But a new biography says much of what we think we know about the "people's princess" is simply not true.

Billed as the ultimate Diana bio, Diana: Story of a Princess, by Phil Craig and Tim Clayton, was shipped to bookstores in plain boxes to prevent pre-publication leaks.

The book and accompanying television documentary (airing this week in Great Britain and premiering July 27 on the Learning Channel in the United States) are timed to coincide with several milestones: Diana would have turned 40 on July 1, July 29 would have marked the 20th anniversary of her wedding and Aug. 31 is the fourth anniversary of her death in a Paris car accident.

The authors, who also produced a mini-series on the princess, say their book debunks myths and provides new insights into her life and marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales.

Royal courtiers, for instance, told the authors Diana Spencer's "fairy-tale wedding" to Prince Charles in 1981 almost didn't happen because the prince would not renounce his love for Camilla Parker Bowles the woman who Diana would later blame for her split with Charles.

To prevent her from canceling the wedding, the authors say that a lunch was arranged between Diana and Parker Bowles during which the two women were said to have cleared the air.

Plots, Rumors and Lies

As the marriage eventually soured, Prince Charles and his closest allies plotted to unjustly portray Diana as "mad" and suffering from borderline personality disorder, the authors report.

Craig says Charles decided to raise doubts about his wife's mental health after it was revealed that he was having an affair with Parker Bowles.

"He was really on the ropes," Craig told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today. "The temptation to go negative, to use a political phrase, must have been overwhelming. There was a concerted briefing by his courtiers that suggested Diana was mentally ill."