The silence of the grave, ghoulishly broken

Morton's diana book

Related Topics
"Tell Noah to make sure the story gets out," Diana, Princess of Wales had urged in 1992. She was referring to Andrew Morton and his sensational book, Diana - Her True Story. But even she might not be pleased at the way "her" story is now being exposed.

Less than a month after her death, Morton has revealed what has been long suspected - that the Princess played an active role in his book. "To all intents and purposes it was her autobiography," he says. According to his latest revelations, she gave six lengthy interviews to him as well as informal conversations. She also read the manuscript of the book and made detailed changes and supplied photographs and captions.

In past few weeks, two features have characterised the aftermath of Diana's death: the view that she was a defenceless victim of the press and promises from the media to avoid similar intrusions on privacy. Morton's revelations have blown both these notions away. They have brought us down to earth, to a more realistic image of Diana and a depressingly familiar view of what can be expected of the press.

Diana - Her True Story was the first book that revealed details of Diana's eating disorders, her suicide attempts, and the continuing affair between her husband and Camilla Parker Bowles. It was explosive, showing quite how badly the fairy-tale marriage had come unstuck. Morton himself was roundly attacked and at first disbelieved.

But the book was phenomenonally successful, selling five million copies worldwide. And now more than 100,000 copies of the new edition, Diana, Her True Story - In Her Own Words have been printed to cope with the huge demand for the book which is expected to be released on 6 October.

This edition will make more millions for Morton even though it offers no fresh revelations - except to claim that around 18,000 words of the book are the Princess speaking directly. Well, sort of. Morton admits that he never met the Princess face to face and conducted the interviews by proxy.

Diana was fingered as the source at the time of the book's initial publication though she denied involvement. But her tacit approval was made clear. The Princess visited Carolyn Bartholomew, her friend who had told Morton that Diana had suffered from bulimia. And she told journalists, "I did not co-operate with this book in any way," but added the pointed aside, "What my family and friends do is a matter for them.''

Morton chose to tell the story through the third person and quoted close friends such as James Gilbey and Bartholomew. Now he says that many of the most sensational disclosures actually came from the Princess herself - that she was, in his terms, the "Deep Throat" of his book. "She was like a prisoner wanting to smuggle a story out."

His latest editing proves fascinating for Di-addicts to analyse - she changed a description of Prince Charles from "the man she longed to marry" to "the man she was in love with". Referring to the couple meeting in 1977 (when Prince Charles went out with Diana's sister) the text originally said: "Diana has since told friends, `I kept out of the way. I remember being podgy, no make-up, an unsmart lady but I made a lot of noise and he liked that.' " In fact she told that directly to Morton.

But the book does more than allow us to play psychological games. It has altered the climate, putting things back to normal. The near deification that followed Diana's death has stifled any comment about her skilful and almost unerring instinct for PR.

Earl Spencer may have described his sister as "the most hunted person of the modern age" but it is unfair to her, and less than she deserves, to show her as just the passive, saintly victim of the media. Diana's appeal was precisely that she was not a saint but a woman - and one who could be remarkably astute about her appeal.

And in the battle of PR she beat her husband - and the Royal Family - hands down. She refused to play the royal wives' game of put up and shut up. The two most explosive revelations about The Firm both came from her - Morton's book and her Panorama interview.

Diana's decision to grant Martin Bashir the 1995 interview confirmed many of Morton's original claims but also added her own twist - remember "There were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded." Or, "I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts ... but I don't see myself being Queen of this country."

But is it right for Morton to reissue the book by putting words directly in Diana's mouth? He says "it is important as a matter of historical record that - to quote her brother Earl Spencer - `she is allowed to sing openly'." On the contrary, it's ghoulish. It is the ultimate invasion of privacy. The Princess went to lengths to supply Morton with information but not to meet him. Even in her Panorama interview, when she again confirmed many of the claims in the book, she distanced herself from it. To reveal what many of us expected to be true, and so cash in on the current Diana publishing sensation, is to betray a confidence she obviously wanted and felt she could trust.

Latterly, of course, newspapers have argued and pondered over the use of photographs invading people's privacy. Yet the right to have the privacy of one's thoughts and words respected seems to have passed The Times by. Yesterday it dedicated its first three pages to Diana's words.

"It is right that Diana herself has the chance to speak," Andrew Morton said yesterday. "The Establishment tried to deny it to her in life. I do not think they can deny it her in death." Get real. It's not a case of denial or suppression. In death, Diana hasn't a choice whether Morton chooses to reveal her words or not. Now that's what I call hunted.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Care Support Workers

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this care company base...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - South East & East Anglia

£60500 - £65500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Technician

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want the opportunity to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
The provincial capital of Idlib, Syria, which fell to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last week  

'I was sure I’d be raped or killed. I was terrified': My life as a gay Syrian refugee who had to flee Isis

Subhi Nahas
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent