How Prince Charles Sought Revenge Against Princess Diana and the Palace

The fall release of Prince Harry’s yet-to-be-titled autobiography is allegedly making Buckingham Palace very nervous. Even Prince Harry’s statement about the book, set to be published by Penguin Random House, could be seen as a shot against the palace. “I’m writing this not as the prince I was born,” he revealed, “but as the man I have become.”

It is said that his royal family members are both worried and angered over his refusal to share details with them about the autobiography’s contents. Reports indicate that Prince Charles even “iced out” his son during a recent visit after Harry remained mute on the book, ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer.

Charles’s reported anger is ironic, considering that he publicly revealed family secrets and grudges during the epic “War of the Wales” that erupted in the early 1990s between himself, Princess Diana, and their various supporters. In fact, both of Harry’s parents collaborated with authors to get their side of the story out.

Gossip about the Wales’ mismatched marriage, stories of infidelity, and whispers of the royal family’s treatment of Diana had been tabloid fodder for years. By the early 1990s, the unhappy couple decided to independently set the record (as they saw it) straight.

But while Harry is taking ownership of his memoir, his parents did so covertly, paying lip service to the old royal adage “never complain, never explain.”

In 1992, Charles was reeling from the breakdown of his marriage to Diana and the publication of Diana: Her True Story, Andrew Morton’s incendiary tell-all. Diana had secretly given interviews to Morton (which was not revealed until after her death) and painted Prince Charles as a harsh, spineless cheater. Public opinion seemed firmly on the beloved princess’s side.

Charles was well aware that Diana was behind Morton’s biography. Egged on by his then private secretary, Richard Aylard, the prince chose journalist Jonathan Dimbleby as his collaborator on both a TV special and a biography.

As biographer Sally Bedell Smith, author of Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, notes, Charles’s decision to publicly fight back was not surprising. “From an early age,” she writes, “Charles felt compelled to express his fervidly held opinions in speeches and articles—often out of deep conviction, at other times to attract attention and to compete with Diana’s magnetic presence.”

But according to The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown, palace officials were dismayed when they discovered the project was to be more than a puff piece celebrating the 25th anniversary of Charles’s investiture as Prince of Wales. She writes:

Dickie Arbiter, the savvy voice in the press office at Buckingham Palace, had originally seen the twenty-fifth-anniversary film idea as something bland and harmless. He was in the process of setting up such a project when the Prince’s private secretary, Commander Richard Aylard, told him, “The Prince has decided he wants to do something different: Dimbleby! What do you think?” Arbiter told him, “I think it sucks. It’s going to be warts and all.” But Aylard, a yes-man to his shiny shoes, replied, “That’s what he wants.”

“It still sucks,” Arbiter retorted.

The royal family was allegedly horrified and worried about what the prince would reveal. “Charles had ignored proverbial wisdom: ‘If you seek revenge, dig two graves,’” Kitty Kelley writes in The Royals. “But Charles discarded the advice of his family, his friends, and his mistress, who had warned that nothing good could come of his candor. His beloved grandmother said she would have nothing to do with the project.”

First up was the ITV documentary, Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role, which featured fawning clips of the prince overseas and skiing with his sons. But the almost two-and-a-half-hour broadcast, which aired on June 29, 1994, made headlines not for the prince’s good works, but for his complaints. In a sprawling, sit-down interview with Dimbleby, he eviscerated the press and his schedule and complimented his “great friend” Camilla Parker Bowles. But most dramatically, he revealed that he had been unfaithful to Diana with the following words:

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