Widow of Diana's minder makes plea to be left alone

US TV set to show tape in which princess claimed bodyguard was her lover, while musical of her marriage comes to UK

Steve Bloomfield,Andrew Buncombe
Sunday 28 November 2004 01:00

The widow of a former bodyguard of Diana, Princess Princess of Wales, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1987, yesterday asked the media to leave her alone as video tapes in which the princess claims that he had been murdered are shown on US television this week.

The widow of a former bodyguard of Diana, Princess Princess of Wales, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1987, yesterday asked the media to leave her alone as video tapes in which the princess claims that he had been murdered are shown on US television this week.

In the tapes, to be shown for the first time on American television tomorrow, Diana talks of her affair with one of her royal protection officers, presumed to be Barry Mannakee, and her belief that he was deliberately killed in a motorcycle accident in 1987.

"It was all found out and he was chucked out. And then he was killed," says the princess. "And that was the biggest blow of my life, I must say. And I think he was bumped off. But, um, there we are. I don't know - we'll never know. He was the greatest fellow I've ever had."

In a statement released on Friday night lawyers representing Mr Mannakee's widow, Susan Miller, said Mrs Miller was "very upset" by the renewed press interest in the death of her husband. The princess's contention that she and Mr Mannakee were lovers has never been proved.

The video recordings were made between 1992 and 1993 by Peter Settelen, Diana's voice coach. An actor - he has appeared in three Coronation Street episodes and numerous films, mainly ones made for television - Mr Settelen was first introduced to Princess Diana through her personal fitness instructor, Carolan Brown. Mr Settelen apparently told the princess she was a terrible speaker and that if she wanted to cut a more effective public figure she would need lessons.

Around 20 tapes were produced during this time and after her death six of them were discovered in the possession of Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell. Following the collapse of the Burrell trial, Mr Settelen took Diana's estate to court in an effort to reclaim the tapes. Last July they were handed back to him and he has since sold the rights of all six tapes to the American television network NBC for an undisclosed sum.

On his website, Mr Settelen claims to have helped an impressive array of clients, from charities such as Greenpeace and Save the Children to companies including GlaxoSmithKline. His client list also includes the Labour Party and the Metropolitan police.

However, none of theorganisations approached by The Independent on Sunday could recall any work he has done for them. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan police said: "We have no knowledge of any formal contract between the Metropolitan Police Service and Mr Settelen." A spokeswoman for Greenpeace said: "No one has heard of this guy. Sorry, we don't know him."

Nor could the Labour Party verify the claims on Mr Settelen's website. "We are trying to get hold of him," a spokeswoman said, "but at the moment, no one at head office is aware of us being a client of his."

Calls to Save the Children and GlaxoSmithKline drew a similar response. Mr Settelen's lawyer, Marcus Rutherford, said he stood by the client list "absolutely" but would not divulge information about individuals Mr Settelen has worked with.

Among the incidents that Diana confided to Mr Settelen during his coaching sessions was the occasion in 1986 that she approached the Queen and told her of Prince Charles's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

"I went to the top lady and I'm sobbing," said Diana, according to a transcript released by NBC. "And I said 'What do I do? I'm coming to you. What do I do?' And she said 'I don't know what you should do. Charles is hopeless.' And that was it. That was help. So I didn't go back to her again for help because I don't go back again if I don't get it the first time around."

The latest tapes are yet another reminder of the couple's troubled relationship for their sons, William and Harry. Prince Harry arrived back in Britain on Friday, apparently "frustrated" at reports suggesting that his behaviour in Argentina had threatened his safety. Clarence House refused to comment on allegations that the Prince had been the subject of a failed kidnap attempt, but said reports surrounding Harry's alleged drinking exploits were "nonsense".

Tomorrow's broadcast on NBC, entitled Diana Revealed, is expected to draw a large audience in the United States. A second programme will be shown on 6 December, but there are currently no plans for the tapes to be aired in Britain.

British run next year for Diana musical

It was perhaps inevitable that the life and death of Diana, Princess of Wales, already immortalised in countless books, portraits and trinkets, would eventually be replayed on stage, too. Diana the Princess, a £1.5m musical-cum-ballet first staged in Denmark last year is coming to Britain in March. It is likely to be a huge hit when it reaches the West End after a short run in Manchester.

The show, created by Peter Schaufuss, a former artistic director of the English National Ballet (ENB), is sympathetic towards Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed, who also died in the 1997 Paris car crash. However, according to one British critic who has seen it, the portrayal of other characters is less kind. Camilla is a "whip-wielding dominatrix in jodhpurs", the Prince of Wales a "devious manipulator" and the Queen a "nervous neurotic".

The soundtrack includes several tracks by 1980s goth/punk outfit the Cure, although traditionalists may be placated by Elgar's Enigma Variations and Pomp and Circumstance.

Mr Schaufuss, was a close friend of the late princess and gave her dance lessons. In 1997 he set up the Peter Schaufuss Ballet Company in Denmark, his home country. When the Diana ballet first opened there last year, Mr Schaufuss was quick to rebut accusations that he was attempting to cash in on the princess's popularity. "I have no need to cash in on anybody," he said. "We always play to full houses wherever we go."

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