Bush telegraph alive with rumour and speculation

Click to follow
The Independent Online
At 9.40pm today, the Princess of Wales will, according to the "leaks" of the Panorama interview in yesterday's newspapers, effectively declare open her own rival royal court, writes James Cusick.

Despite the fact that they have been unable to get their hands on the hottest video since JR was shot in Dallas, the royal-watching hacks nevertheless refused to admit defeat.

"I don't want pity. I have more dignity than that. I'm strong, here to serve, and happy to do it." According to the most authoritative of all the "leaks", the Sunday Telegraph believes this is the Princess using the 60-minute interview "to set out how she sees her future role and her relationship with the British people".

The Sunday Telegraph's acknowledged lead in the royal interview chase stems from the paper's new editor, Dominic Lawson: Mr Lawson is married to Rosa Monckton, one of the princess's close friends. The princess is godmother to the couple's youngest child.

If the quotes from the Sunday Telegraph are less than accurate, it may indicate there has been no slip in the security the BBC have thrown round the interview tape. Instead, speculation yesterday pointed to a spot of teasing by the Princess of Wales recalling her version of the conversation with BBC journalist, Martin Bashir.

The Queen's alleged fury over the decision to keep the interview a secret appears to set the seal on the division between Buckingham Palace and her daughter-in-law housed in Kensington Palace. If the Princess ever accepted royal orders, those days have ended.

The Sunday Telegraph states (and others have copied) that the Princess has no wish to destroy the Royal Family. "Why should I wish to destroy my children's future." She adds: "No, there will be no divorce."

Despite directness there is also diplomacy. She apparently says she "understands" the Prince of Wales's decision to reveal his extra-marital affair [to Camilla Parker Bowles] in an earlier televised interview. She attributes no blame, and acknowledges their marriage has ended. "It's sad. . . these things happen."

Speculating on her future role, and clearly not one that the Queen herself has ordained, the Princess says quite simply her role will be "supporting the country around the world".

Quashing suggestions that she might make a new life abroad, she says: "I'm not going to let the country down, I'm not going to run away." And she adds that she will never leave Britain because her children's "future is here".

Such bold statements are a far cry from the image of a shy and retiring reluctant royal who not so long ago begged the press to leave her alone in what was then analysed as a self-enforced retirement. The idea of retirement now looks absurd.

The Sunday Times, lacking the inside access of the Sunday Telegraph, instead offers a front page spin of the story. The BBC chairman, Marmaduke Hussey is, says the paper, miffed that his own senior executives kept the Dianarama programme, as it is now being nicknamed, secret from him until it was too late for official intervention.

"Hussey was considering a rebuke to the BBC's director-general, John Birt," said the paper. Inside, in a two-page "focus", the Sunday Times claims to offer an "investigation into how the Princess of Wales trumped the palace".

The Sunday Mirror, lifting the same Telegraph quotes as the rest of Fleet Street, nevertheless proudly proclaims its own "Diana TV sensation". "Spies are bugging me" shouts the splash headline.

The Mirror says the Princess is to "blast MI5 over role in dirty tricks" and that she is convinced the security services and Establishment elements have leaked details of her private life to undermine her popularity.

The Sunday Mirror also claims that the behind-the-scenes go-between who helped and guided the Princess through the decision to reveal all on television was Angela Serota, the estranged wife of Tate gallery director, Nicholas Serota.

The News of the World, not to be outdone by the upmarket Telegraph, went downmarket for their own royal "exclusive". "Diana found Camilla's knickers in Charles' pocket." Penny Thornton, allegedly her personal astrologer, says the Princess revealed her innermost thoughts to her.

The People says BBC chiefs were so shocked by the comments on camera that "cuts to tone down the programme" were ordered. Having missed out on a sneak preview of the elusive tape to be broadcast, the People reveals the "real version the world will not see".

Comments