So you think it's like a politically meaningful act to get stuff wrong about the British royal family, the same as with football? Welcome to You're Wrong about where we tell you the story behind why your mom cried that day. Oh, that's nice. I think I cried that day, too. Everybody cried that day that they sucked.
Well, I was eight or nine, so I didn't fully get it. I was like, who is this lady?
And I'm basically a boomer. So I was in my mid 30s. Yeah, I am Michael Hobbs. I am a reporter for the Huffington Post.
I'm Sarah Marshall and I'm working on a book about the Satanic Panic.
And if you want to support the show and your cute bonus episodes, we are on Patreon and there's lots of other ways to support the show, including buying cute T-shirts.
And you can also not support the show because it's just existing in the world and breathing air and doing the things you do is pretty great. We're happy you're doing that. Just come hang out. Yeah.
And today we are beginning our series on Princess Diana. Yeah, I have like 31 meta comments about this.
Before we start, if you don't stop me, I'm going to talk for like two hours before we actually say anything we can do that.
I mean, you seem like I feel like if I stick a fork in you, you're just going to be like the juiciest and greatest I've ever been.
Please, please forgive me if I go too far down paths I like. I went back and forth about whether or not to do this episode, and I want to talk about it.
OK, where do you want to start? So, OK, I started researching for this like two weeks ago and I was reading one of the two biographies of her that we're going to dive into this episode.
And I kept thinking there's like so much going on in the world. Everything is on fire literally this time. And here I am reading about basically a love triangle of the three most privileged human beings on planet Earth.
That's why I want to hear about it, because on one level, it doesn't matter at all. Yes, right. Because it's like it's human life. There's sadness here. There's trauma, all of that. It's all real. And yet on another level, it's like, oh, my God, not in this matter is these people are having like, decisive, dramatic moments of their lives at polo matches, you know. Yes.
This is a perennial theme and the kind of entertainment humans seek out. And I, for one, am going to sit here in my smoky city listening to you tell me about British royals for the rest of my life, if I can figure out how to do it so well.
This was my journey. I was like I put down the books. I think I even texted you. I was like, I don't know about this Princess Diana series. And then I sort of kept coming back to this.
You were like, but I want to know. Yeah. And tell me about the order. Yes.
I sort of long to care about frivolous bullshit right now.
And it felt really good to be reading about something so low stakes, like it just felt good. And so I sort of felt like maybe there's other people that are feeling like this, like I was watching a make up tutorial the other day and the person just said very matter of factly, so I'm not OK.
Oh, that is exactly how I feel. And I spent all of my days now reading about fucking Kuhnen means and sex trafficking of children. And it's actually really nice to read about royal gossip from 25 years ago.
I'm really hoping to be talking about outfits by now, and I feel like what we're getting at is the idea of how can we reconcile our daily lives with the fact that we're living through an extinction event. Yes. So I feel like the question of how is a human being supposed to be able to reconcile themselves to that reality, to accept that information and to try and do something about it? I feel like that has to be very individual because we haven't really done this before.
Right. And I have spent a lot of time during this pandemic learning about and thinking about and telling other people about drama between YouTubers who are like half my age. And why is that? I don't know, but it's what I do.
The weird thing, too, is that this is not a standard that I hold other people to look when I see other political journalists tweeting about, like, you know, a Marvel movie or something. I'm not like, oh, how frivolous.
I'm like, good for them. I tweet about heavyweights all day long. Yes. Yeah.
So anyway, all of that, like, ignore me, I'm probably going to cut most of this out, but these are my reasons and like my sort of guilt for doing a couple like self care Princess Diana episodes, I would encourage you to keep as much of the sun as you can stand, because I feel like this is cathartic for anybody working through the same feelings, which is all of us.
And people will agree or disagree with where, you know, with our ultimate conclusions in this. But like, this is what we're going through. Like this is an unprecedented experience. Like I for one, I'm a fan of precedented experience. But as I listen to me. No, they do not. You tried, sir. You mean you keep it precedented, guy? I guess think of this show as something that I try and do the best I can with every week based on my interests, and I, for one, am excited about this episode.
I want to learn about Princess Diana.
Thank you for being nicer to me than I am. That's pretty easy. I could murder you and I would be nicer to you than you are.
I warned you that I was going to have a lot of insufferable prefaces to this episode is worrying.
But the point is, you know, none of us know how to live in circumstances like these and we're all doing our best. And I, for one, would like to hear about Princess Diana.
I know this morning I'm sorry for the love of God. I don't really know.
Now that we've established that we're not OK, we're going to proceed. I mean, let's let's talk about Princess Diana.
I know you have read some books about her. I really haven't.
I listened to the beginning of Tina Brown's Princess Diana book. I listened to the audio book one evening while Kraft shopping. So I have heard the amount of Diana's life that you can learn about as you drive to a suburban craft store in Pennsylvania and then back to your house. I told you I got as far as her winning the best kept hamster award. Yes. And then I have my own memories from childhood, but I don't know very much.
So neither did I when I was going into this. These episodes are going to be based on two biographies. Andrew Morton's biography of Diana, which called Diana in her own words, is the only biography of her with which she participated. So he did extensive interviews with her. There's transcripts of the interviews in the book itself. He's now updated it after her death, but it originally came out in nineteen ninety one. We're going to get to this. But when the book comes out, the book itself is a huge event in her eventual divorce.
It's kind of like a salvo in the war between her and the royal family.
And she initially claims that she didn't participate in the book.
There's all this weird subterfuge that goes on to get her on tape. There's also there's weird things in British libel laws where Morton had to say that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles had a special friendship. He couldn't actually say that they were having an affair because British libel laws are crazy.
A special friendship. Yeah. Wow. Like your mom has with her therapist.
But anyway, so I started reading this book and it's very detailed. It's got sort of all the time lines in place. He interviews her brother. He interviews her mom. There's you know, it's very well researched, but it's also it's one of the least insightful books I have ever read.
Oh, no. It's just like a recitation of events.
It's like your kid comes home from school and it's like. And then. And then. And that totally. Yes.
For more insight and color, I've been trying to add like other essays by people, and especially Tina Brown's book, The Diana Chronicles, which comes out in 2007, which draws on Andrew Morton's like.
She refers to Andrew Morton's biography extensively. She refers to a bunch of other biographies, but she's actually insightful about how the royal family works, how the British upper crust works. So it's nice to have that through somebody's lens who basically just describes all this royal family stuff and all the manners as just like fundamentally dumb and bad.
Yeah, that's I feel like Tina Brown might agree with my theory that judges should all wear Tommy Bahama shirts because I believe they should wear something that inspires people to feel slightly less reverence for them.
So, OK, I want to read you this sentence from Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles is the perfect summation of the point of view that she is going into this story with.
OK, it's long, but bear with me, OK?
Tina Brown says there was no other rival for her heart, but twenty eight year old Charles Philip Arthur George, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Kerick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and great steward of Scotland, or Arthur, as he likes to be called when he climaxes.
And they really snuck up on me. She stuck it.
I mean, I think it's like the perfect blending of all of this royal title bullshit, like she knows this stuff. But then it's like, oops, m dash. He's also just like a dude who likes fucking. Yeah. So those are two main sources. I'm going to try to bring in things from various other sources. I am one hundred percent sure that I'm going to miss stuff.
So apologies in advance, but let's do our best and give it. Yeah.
I mean all of our UK listeners will I'm sure know this, but I feel like a lot of our American listeners don't know that. Like this whole thing about Diana being the people's princess, that's much more about her personality than her actual upbringing. She was raised like her father. It's very Jane Austen. Her father is like a noble guy who doesn't have much money. And her mother. There is from a family that has a lot of money, but they're not noble.
So her mother's name is Frances. Her father's name is John. He is the eventually the Earl something, not the earl of something, because earl of is like a lower rank than Earl, really. So eventually he's Earl Spencer, not Earl of Spencer.
See, this is exactly the thing we were referring to 90 seconds ago. Yes.
There's also, again, Andrew Morton is just like so deferential to the stuff. He just mentions that the family's fortune, her father's fortune comes from sheep trading in the 15th century. No need to interrogate that at all. Just like, oh, yeah, if you were rich 500 years ago, you're still rich now. No big deal.
Her mother is 12 years younger than her father, which is the same age gap that there will eventually be between Diana and Prince Charles.
This is a lovely quote from Tina Brown that sort of sets the scene for the world that Diana's mother is inhabiting and the Diana will eventually be born into.
OK, she says British upper class women of the pre-war generation were tough as old boots raised in freezing country seats, given a second class education, always playing second fiddle to their brothers, they cultivated resourcefulness and the ability to live in private worlds social activities. After marriage revolved around male sporting events, wives spent their weekends hanging around in the rain and race meets or being left at home all day during shooting parties at which you were still expected to change for lunch and dinner.
It was the not being noticed that shriveled female sympathies. Their aggressive Beaky look, comes from years of catering to oblivious men.
It just such a great example of the kind of insight that Tina Brown has and Morton doesn't.
Well, and it's. Yeah, and it's like very novelistic. Hyperbolic, too, because obviously not being noticed isn't always going to make you beekeeping. Right. But it's true. Yeah. And it's just an observation about sort of the emotional emptiness that a marriage of manners apparently fosters, which is relevant to the whole story.
And this feeling that the primary value of you as a wife is like your ability to produce sons. Basically what eventually poisons and destroys their marriage is that Francis has a girl and then another girl.
She finally produces a son in nineteen sixty.
But the son, it's not clear what happens, but he's he dies within 10 hours and she talks later about how she never got to look at him.
They take the boy out and they just whisk him off to some other room and she only finds out what happens when she sees his death certificate.
And it just says extensive malformation.
So she never knows what his actual condition was and she never gets to hold him right. She never gets any warmth to the sun. And it's seen as this great shame of the family, but specifically hers. Yeah. After that, they make her go to all these clinics because, of course, it's the woman's fault that she can't produce a son. She goes to all these fertility doctors. And then on July 1st, nineteen sixty one, she has another daughter, Diana.
So Diana, like our former subject, Anastasia is one of a series of daughters who everyone is hoping will be daughters. Yes.
And it takes them a week to name her because they haven't even considered girls names for the entire pregnancy because they think it's like bad luck or whatever.
Wow. And so she talks about how, like one of her first and most enduring memories is this idea of, like, you should have been a boy. Her existence is wrapped up in the disappointment of her father and the anger and resentment of her mother, of like I'm doing my best here, man. Eventually, in nineteen sixty four, Frances does have a son.
So this is Diana's younger brother. It's very confusing. Is also named Charles. So we might need to institute some sort of nickname system to keep them straight throughout the series.
Let's call Prince Charles. No, that's too confusing. We can't call him his climax name.
Let's call him young Charles. Young Charles.
OK, Diana's brother again, this people's princess is kind of a media creation. Like she grows up in a tin room house with six full time staff. The way that Andrew Morton describes it, he says it was a childhood where she wanted for nothing materially but everything emotionally.
All of the social mores, all of the sort of rules around parenting at the time are these weird, strict, distant, formal rules. Famously, her brother is seven years old before he eats dinner at the same table with his father. Wow. They're in this giant echoing house in the middle of fucking nowhere. So they're just like alone for a lot of their childhood.
Her older sisters are off at boarding school. She becomes really close to her younger brother. But it's basically just like the two of them in this big, cold, drafty house in the middle of nowhere.
This is why it's not an ideal system psychologically to get two people married and then be like, right now, yeah, you have kids and keep having them until one of them is a boy. Yeah. And then you'll have all these kids and. Yeah, they whatever I mean, it also seems like this is really getting to her mom that originally, you know, she marries this guy when she's 18, all of her time is taken up with having kids and this preoccupation with producing a male heir now that she has a male heir, she's also you know, she's in her mid 20s.
She's sort of like, what am I doing here?
And all the other landed gentry wives speak in a robotic tone.
So her mother is getting more unhappy. They also start having fights. And so this is in the transcripts of the interviews with Andrew Morton. This is what she says. This is Diana. I remember seeing my father slap my mother across the face. I was hiding behind the door and Mummy was crying.
But then, weirdly, Andrew Morton in his book, because the book is based on these transcripts, he summarizes this as Diana clearly remembered witnessing a particularly violent argument between her mother and father. So it's weird. I don't know.
It's just weird to me to summarize, like I saw him slap her as he's like weirdly non-specific terms when she says something specific, a violent argument between mother and father who can say whether either of them was writing violence, both it just exist as a third party hovering between them.
This is one of the little things that made me start to distrust his book a little bit. I was like, why didn't you just say her dad slapped her mom?
It seems like shying away from being direct about that accusation. Yeah.
So her mother starts spending more time in London. I sort of love this, that Francis at age twenty eight with four children is finally like having her 20s, that she starts going to London and going to plays, going to like fancy dinner parties. She finally gets like this cosmopolitan life, like she gave him a boy and now she gets to go to all that stuff.
And now he's like totally uninterested in what she's doing to write like, yeah, go, go, go get an apartment in London, find whatever the way that Frances later puts it. She tells this to Andrew Morton. She says he had no interest in the Heifer who had produced the prize KAF. So on one of these trips to London, she meets somebody else. She meets a guy named Peter Shand kid. He's the heir to like a wallpaper fortune or something.
And he's now a sheep farmer in Australia. Like, I don't understand what any of these businesses are.
But anyway, he's like a rich dude. He's married. They start conducting an affair.
Conducting an affair is like the most businesslike way.
I know what they start like fan dangling each other. I don't know what to say. They start having sex in his London apartment.
They have an affair. They just have a half an hour.
So the way that Morton says it is Peter an amusing Bon Vivir with an attractive bohemian streak seem to possess all the qualities.
John lacked a personality, for example, in the exhilaration of their affair. Francis, eleven years his junior, did not notice his bouts of depression and black moods that would come later. I'm throwing in foreshadowing to make this more literary.
So eventually she leaves him, she takes the kids and moves them off to London.
And of course, West London, like the posh part of London, enrolled them in school and they start seeing their dad on weekends. But mostly they're with her mom. And so Charles now says that this was like Diana's first glimpse of like a relatively normal life, like what most of us would consider. You know, it's like a two bedroom apartment or something like that. She's taking the tube. She's relatively independent. It doesn't seem they have any like a live in staff.
So eventually her dad doesn't like this arrangement. He sues her mom for divorce. He insists the kids move back in with him in the middle of nowhere and go to boarding school nearby. Nearby, nowhere, nearby, nowhere.
And because he's a nobleman and she's not, it's like the divorce is a done deal and he gets custody. It's amazing.
Wow. OK, so it's just like the fancier parent gets also her own mother testifies against her and says that she's an unfit mother. So that didn't help.
Oh, God. What is what are Diana's mother's parents like?
Diana's mom's mom is this social striver and she's friends with the Queen Mother.
So throughout her childhood, the royal family actually like their next door neighbors. But that means, like, I don't know, twenty miles away because their estates are so big. But like, their nearest neighbor is the sort of the summer house of the royal family. Oh. And so her grandmother is constantly sort of working on getting them closer into the royal family.
So they go over to watch their cable. Yeah, they do actually go over there to watch movies and stuff and water their plants when they're away. Yes.
And there's an apocryphal story that may or may not be true of Prince Charles, like dropping into their house when he's like seventeen and Diana is like five and like that's officially the first time they meet. But it's not clear like if that happened or if that's misremembered or whatever.
Yeah, no, but they're very intertwined with the royal family already. They're not like close or whatever, but it's not totally unusual for them to get invited to.
Various royal parties at this estate, right? So I am going to show you a family picture. OK, so I'm sending you a picture of the family when she moves back in with her dad. So this is her dad and all of the kids. Wow. And she's the one on the right, huh?
I would not have recognized her either. Right. She has this, like, very round face. She's got long brown hair.
She gets like it's the it's the angle. It's the bangs and.
It's funny, I guess I just always assumed that she was like a very glamorous little child. She looks like a regular. Yeah, doesn't she?
She's six when her mom leaves, and I think she's like seven or eight here. What else strikes you about the photo?
She has, interestingly, very reserved body language. Everyone else is completely facing the camera. She's halfway turned toward it, sitting sideways on the couch.
I also think it's funny how all the kids seem to have these sort of tentative smiles. The kids are like and then dad is beaming.
Yes, I think there are a lot of family pictures like this where the dad is like, look at my cornucopia of children.
Like he's got his legs sort of like splayed also like his bread basket. And his kids are all sitting, like, nervously around them.
I mean, that's kind of a metaphor for what happens in the next couple of years where her dad is like, everything's going fine. I'm like doing it. I'm like a single dad.
Everything's great and just has no idea what any of his kids need.
So it's pretty typical in these sort of like royal like sad royal kids stories to have like a nanny that they rely on. Right. Like this, like sort of mother ish figure, somebody who becomes a mothering figure just like a long time nanny.
But for whatever reason, Diana has these nannies that like swap out every six months or a year.
They're a college intern program like the world.
She is convinced because they're all young and pretty. I guess she's convinced that they're all trying to marry her dad because that's like something that young upper crust ladies would do at the time. They would become nannies and then inevitably they would end up marrying the father of the kids that they're taking care of.
It makes sense. He got a lot of access. Yes.
And also, it seems like her dad is deliberately hiring smoke shows. So I think that he's like doing this deliberately. Yes, of course. But so she distrusts these nannies. There's all these stories of her pulling pranks on the nannies, like she'll put a pin cushion on their chair, she'll lock them out of the house, like there's this thing of like her terrorizing the nannies and then and he's not liking her all that much and her not liking them like her and her brother were pretty unpleasant to the nanny.
Well, most children are unpleasant, at least from time to the time.
And then her brother, young Charles, describes his dad is like shell shocked every once in a while. They would like play cricket on the grounds or whatever. But generally he would just like sit alone in his study or go do these random, weird, rich people social events and just leave the kids at home with a nanny, even though he's, like, trying to be a good dad. He fought for them in court. Right, to get custody.
He's not like doing anything with them.
Like he doesn't seem to have any idea what children actually need at this point in their lives.
Diana talks about how both of her parents are kind of competing for her affection, but then they don't know how to compete. So instead of competing on like, how was your day, honey? Or, like parent stuff, they compete on buying them things.
So for her seventh birthday, her dad organizes this massive party with hundreds of people and he somehow loans camels from the Bristol Zoo and has camels at this party.
He's like, look, sweetie, camels. And she's like, can you just give me a fucking hug like you? Camels are fine, but like, this is not actually what I need as a person.
What is it that makes it easier for a human being to obtain camels for their child's event than it is to hug them? Right.
Like don't raise kids like this. I don't get this. I mean, the only explanation we get from Tina Brown is she says he wasn't cut out to be a jolly new age dad. His own formal childhood had moved him irrevocably to the detached parenting style of the aristocracy. Diana and Charles always took their meals with the nanny in the nursery while he slept in solitary grandeur in the dining room.
That's so weird. Why is he at the dinner all by himself? They're literally just making rules to make themselves miserable and to make their children miserable.
Yeah, it's like that man on a date with Vicki Vale.
It's also super chaotic when she goes on weekends to meet her mom because her mom is like kind of it seems like kind of breaking down and is really, really, really mad that she lost the kids in the divorce because, of course, this is not what she envisioned for this like post IRL life of hers.
So apparently they would go there on Friday night.
And starting on Saturday, her mom would start crying and say, I don't want to give you back tomorrow.
These kids are like seven and eight years old at this point. And like, they do not know how to process this at all.
Yeah. And neither do the adults, like the adults in their lives, aren't handling anything that's going on emotionally. Right. And so it's like all going straight to them.
And she talks about this this event that she still remembers years later when she has to be the bridesmaid at some cousin of a cousin of a whatever wedding. And her mother gives her a green dress and her father gives her a white dress for the wedding. And they're both like, well, honey, you have to wear this.
It's like very divorced kid thing where it's this like pretty basic thing, like whatever. Two people give me a dress, I need to wear one of them. It's really under normal circumstances, it would not be that big of a deal, but it's a front in this larger war and it's the perfect symbolism because both of her parents are going to be there. So whatever she wears, they're both going to see who she sort of quote unquote, supporting.
And like she doesn't like she's not ready for this much responsibility.
Yeah, yeah. And also, I guess that, like, from an early age, like her life is consumed by the kind of stuff that her marriage is going to eventually be about, which is like, yeah, these little social gestures that everyone cares about and is going to talk about and is going to interpret. And you can't do it right, no matter what you do, because someone will be disappointed. That's really insightful.
I mean, this is she's understanding herself as a symbol. So, again, even though her dad is like, I want my kids back, it's so great.
Almost immediately after moving back in with her dad, he sends her to boarding school.
So it's like, I'm going to go to court, get my kids back, and then I'm going to, like, fuck them off to like, whatever some brick building in, like, North Chester or something.
I don't even know some of the British place names in this story sound like satire is a British place.
Names I'm sorry. Upper barking. I'm thick switch. I don't know if he her to this boarding school. Apparently her parents are the only parents of kids there who are divorced.
Wow. And she's like acutely aware of this.
This is Kramer vs. Kramer, Mike. I mean, there's a different world.
So at school, Andrew Morton describes her as sort of somewhat of an outcast because of this divorce thing, although Tina Brown and me are both a little bit skeptical of this description because she's also at school doing a billion activities.
She's doing swimming. She's doing something called netball. She's doing dance. She's in the play like she sounds low key, popular.
I don't know. Ultimately, when school, I feel like a lot of people describe themselves as unpopular and then someone else like. But you were the winner, Frolich Queen Total. Everyone feels unpopular.
I think that's really what's going on. She tells Morton basically that, like, I felt like an outsider.
But then when Tina Brown interviews people that she actually went to school with, they're like, no, people liked her. Like, she was kind of weird.
She was a little quiet, like feel like an outsider and still know how to put on the right sweater. Yeah. And like, laugh along to the right jokes at the right moment. So, yeah.
One Tina Brown is also weirdly mean about Diana's intellect. She keeps talking about how she failed a bunch of levels and how she got low grades and all these like standardized tests the British children have to pass. Hannah, I know.
It's like just relax. Like, it doesn't it doesn't seem to me like she's all that dumb. It seems like she's bad at taking tests, whatever.
I bet Tina Brown did a great job with all of her reading tests.
So, I mean, her personality is coming out at this point. I think of her and I don't know that I have great evidence for this, but I think of her as like a high functioning introvert.
She's someone who likes to be alone, needs to be alone. She's really into reading.
She's not somebody who's, like, putting herself out there all the time. But when she does, she's really good at it. So sort of she can turn on the social charm, like when she needs to do it, she can do it, but then she gets exhausted afterwards and then she sort of needs to recharge. So what you see is in her classmates, they're describing her as like a social butterfly and great, but in sort of bursts that she's not somebody who's just effortlessly on all the time.
She's somebody who, like you can also find her in these much more somber and quiet moods where she just doesn't want to be around people. It seems like she's very good at social situations when she knows what is expected of her. But in things like when she's not in control of them or and she's sort of a follower rather than a leader, then she gets less comfortable and she sort of fades into the background.
So the other thing that happens at this time is for the first time she starts doing charity work.
So this obviously will become extremely relevant later. But there's some sort of field trip at her school where they take the kids to a mental institution. Everyone who was around at this time says that Diana is a natural. She does the thing immediately where she goes down on her hands and knees to get her face on the same level as everybody who's there, like immediately just connects with people. So one of the nurses who works there says that she hears like laughter booming through the halls for the first time in days.
Like as soon as Diana gets there, I mean, it kind of comes back to what you were saying the other day, that every kid is gifted. Right. That we should think of.
Every child is gifted, but like finding out what their gift is, this is her superpower that she can connect with anybody and make them feel really comfortable and not look down on, which I can see being a product of her own and security, fostering lifestyle like if she is an insecure person, then that can give her the gift of like a genuine sense of equality with everyone that she means. Right.
So this is what Tina Brown says about Diana's empathy. She says Diana made her warmth available to anyone, regardless of race, creed or nationality. An invisible thread of kindliness drew her to people who expected the least and needed the most, the distinguished historian Paul Johnson believed. The Dianna's empathy was a unique gift, she thought she knew nothing and was very stupid. He told me, although she didn't know much, she had something that very few people possess.
She had extraordinary intuition and could see people who were nice and be warm to them and sympathize with them. Very few people compare to what she had. This is actually something. I mean, I think that her insecurity about her intellect might be in there, too. A lot of people say that, like when they meet Diana within the first couple of minutes, be like, oh, you know, I'm too thick to understand all that. But like, she has this sort of the self-deprecating thing that she thinks of herself as kind of dumb and she thinks that this is the way that she can excel at something.
It's also an interesting thing that she is actually very competitive and her sisters are good at fucking everything. And her brother is like a super genius, like he ends up going to Oxford or Cambridge or one of those.
And this is like something that she's good at. Everything else that she does, like dancing, piano, whatever. It's like, oh, your sister's better than this, but you're like pretty good, right? Everything else in her life she's second best at. And so being nice to people and connecting with people, it doesn't just give her a sense of self-esteem, but it's also it's like the one thing that she has that she is the best at.
And so Tina Brown concludes the saying, when Diana did leave her own world for the hospital ward or the homeless shelter, it was never royal condescension. In her last interview before her death, she told Le Monde, I'm much closer to the people at the bottom than the people at the top.
It never occurred to Diana or anyone else at the time that this empathy could be as powerful a force as intellect.
It also seems like the people at the top suck and that she's drawn elsewhere. That's another way of putting it. It does seem that like the manners and conventions of the society sort of incentivize sucky behavior. And a very interestingly tagline.
So the last thing that happens before she meets Prince Charles and we get into the courtship is she gets a step mom.
Her name is Rain Leghaei.
I don't know how is it spelled Leggy?
I mean, the British names are pronounced some way that they decided on seven hundred years ago. So, like, we have no chance. Yes. All British words just call her rame legs. We know that that's wrong. Yes. And we're agreeing that we know what's wrong. And if we try and say something that sounds right, it'll be wrong also. Yes.
So her dad meets Redlegs, who is sort of like a tragic figure. People think of her as like really tacky and just sort of off a little bit.
Like one of the details in Tina Brown's book is that they're having a pool party and, you know, it's a bunch of kids.
It's like 11:00 in the morning. Everybody's playing around there in their swimming suits. They've got like Sock'Em Boppers or whatever, and rain legs shows up in a ball gown like a Morticia Adams ball gown.
It's like it's just everything is a little bit off about her.
She's like too formal and informal at the same time. But Diana's father seems to be wild about her.
He's like, I'm a posh old man and this is an overly posh lady.
One of the details from Andrew Morton's book. He says, Christmas at Althorp with Rain Spencer in Charge was a bizarre comedy. She presided over the present opening like an officious timekeeper. The children were only allowed to open the present, she indicated, and only after she had looked at her watch to give the go ahead to tear the paper off.
So weird. But it's like there's so many weird little things like this where it's like she's applying these rules. But the rules don't make any sense.
Like she understands that being fancy is like having rules about arbitrary stuff, just like it does that.
But so the most bananas detail of this is that Diana's father start seeing her.
They meet her once and then they get married without telling the children.
Diana finds out from the newspapers her brother, young Charles, finds out from the principal of his school.
The principles like, hey, good luck on getting your new stepmom there, and he's like, step what?
And then they have a big party, like a wedding party with a thousand people to celebrate the wedding. And they don't invite the kids.
They just stay home with the nannies. Come on. It's so weird.
This is this all seems based on a belief that children are like just little hunks of semi-autonomous gristle that don't notice what's happening to them.
But like your new mommy now some British people time.
So in the sort of the sad outcome of this is that they're livid at their father, but they also take a lot of their anger out on rain herself.
And so Diana loathes rain legs.
It's also like, how can you expect a child to not conflate the injustice she rightfully feels about how this woman was introduced into her life with her feelings for the woman herself? Right. Like if you are screwing your wife by bringing her into your children's lives this way. Oh, yeah.
He just isn't thinking anything through. Like he's never putting his children's emotional experiences in his calculation.
Do you think in his brain that it's just like a Shetland pony munching away?
So the other thing that Redlegs does that everybody hates is Diana's grandfather dies and so her father becomes Earl Spencer and they have to move into this like ridiculous castle ish house.
But of course, because her dad's family doesn't actually have that much money and living in one of these like Beauty and the Beast castles costs thousands of dollars a year for various things of upkeep. So they all of a sudden take on all these expenses.
Can you offset the cost by letting people sell mini series? They're literally this is what they do.
They actually they open up part of the house to tours.
It must be very weird, though, to live in a house where, like, you have your living quarters and then people are like looking in out in other parts of it.
But also the kids deeply resent this. Right, because all of a sudden they have this new step mom with red fingernails. And apparently she starts doing all this interior decorating stuff like she puts in wall-to-wall carpet over top of like there.
Oh, no, I know. Which actually legitimately sounds bad.
But also, if you have people treading all over your house like hundreds of people a day, it's probably not a terrible idea to put in some carpet ride.
It's just it's a complicated issue. But I presume they're coming. They're partly to see the flaws. So I don't know. I can't help her.
In her defense, in her interviews with Andrew Morton, Diana does show some understanding of rain. She says she used to join us accidentally find us in places and come and sit down and pause with presence. And we all hated her so much because we thought she was going to take daddy away from us. But actually, she was suffering from the same thing.
So Diana has like some understanding of like this is what it does to people to grow up in this environment.
But now finally we get to her meeting, Charles. OK, there's like three meeting stories.
There's the first one when, like, he's seventeen and she's five or whatever. That doesn't really count.
There's one when she's sixteen and he is dating her sister.
Are you aware of this? I'm aware that he dated her sister one time.
Yeah, this is super fucked up. Her older sister, Sarah, had been dating the Duke of Westminster, whatever that is, and they had just broken up. This is in nineteen seventy seven and she gets a really bad eating disorder. She gets anorexia after this. This is extremely fucked up.
This is from Andrew Morton's book. Her family, worried about her health, used every method possible to encourage her to eat. For example, she would be allowed to speak with Prince Charles on the phone if she put on two pounds in weight.
Oh, no. Oh, no, no. They're controlling her love life and her fucking weight at the same time.
Yeah. And of course, here, your family exerting even more control over your life is going to urge you to just act normal. So eventually she starts seeing a doctor.
It's coincidentally the same doctor that Diana will later see for bulimia. But she's dating Prince Charles as all of this is going on.
And we are now going to watch a clip.
So the first time Diana and Charles meet is on a hunting excursion.
And this is Charles and Diana talking about how they met on the eve of their wedding.
This is a couple of days before they get married. OK, so three to one go.
Can you take us back to when you first met? You don't remember. Can you remember? Is the second time it was 1977, the shots days friend of mine just to shoot some sort of metal to such a previous to that, I want to do what I do think.
Then what was your instant impression, both of you?
What about I know that I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16 year old. She was and I mean, great fun and bouncy and full of life and everything, and I just want you so was pretty amazing.
Did it cause either of your minds that three years time you would be announcing going.
OK, what was your first impression? It's so awkward and she looks so young. I know she's 19. Oh. When they got married, she was 19. Yeah, she's 19. And he's 32. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. And they just I mean, it's just awkward.
It's so awkward. I know. That's why I got the first three minutes because it's like painful to watch. What did he seem like? I don't know.
I think they both have the quality of like a 12 year old golden retriever who's being petted really roughly by a bunch of toddlers at Thanksgiving. It's just like this has to happen, you know, like neither of them are happy to be having this conversation. Like, these aren't engaging questions. You can't answer them. Honestly, I know you can see that they're, you know, caught in this web of manners and like, having to it's all very pretty.
And it's just weird because they're like they're talking about their relationship as if they're discussing trade negotiations.
So Hilary Mantel has a really good essay about this. And she says something about the royal family that I think is really insightful. She says, I used to think that the interesting issue is whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family doesn't have the difficulty in breeding. The pandas do. But pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill adapted to any modern environment.
But aren't they interesting? Aren't they nice to look at? Some people find them endearing. Some pity them for their precarious situation. Everybody stares at them. And however airy the enclosure they inhabit, it's still a cage.
Yeah, like what happens when you try and liberate a panda like Meghan Markle? So they meet at this time and then nothing really happens and they meet like for real. Three years later. So this is like this is kind of a weird, flukey thing.
OK, so so it's like weird for them to be doing this interview because like, the interviewer was like, did you know when he first met her that you would all stop doing the voice they like? Did you know when you first met that you would be getting engaged? And it's like if you thought that you knew that when you met anyone, that would be pretty intense, right? Yeah.
I mean, it seems like at the very most he thought that she was hot. It doesn't seem like they really connected as people are like chatted very much as people because they're in a large group.
Yeah. He describes her is like jolly and amusing. Full of fun. Yes, like a corgi.
I mean, he goes to her house that night or sometime shortly after and for some dinner thing, something, something. And then apparently they end up chatting a little bit.
And then he asks Diana to like show him like, oh, won't you show me the galleries upstairs? Like, I think this is how I like rich people flirt with each other.
And then apparently her sister, like, sees this going on and she's like, absolutely not. I will show you the galleries and then totally cockblock her and then walks upstairs with Charles. And that's like the last that they interact for like three more.
Years later, she tells Andrew Morton that, you know, when I first met him on that hunting trip, I thought, what a sad man. Tina Brown says that Diana actually has a crush on him when she meets him at this time, that this is sort of the spark of this crush and like a very deliberate effort to get with him. Those are like the two theories. Either she thought he was like a sad man or I need to sort of get things in order to get with this guy.
I have no idea why one would suggest that these things are mutually exclusive.
So basically they meet. That's about it. There's nothing seems momentous or all that interesting about it at the time. It's just like my sister's dating. This dude met him, chatted a bit. Peace out. Eventually, the relationship with her sister explodes when Sarah starts talking to the press, explodes in a good way or a bad way.
In a bad way.
So apparently she's on some skiing holiday. These people are always on fucking skiing holidays. She ends up talking to two journalists in, like, a very open way. I guess they're just like eating French fries together at lunch. And she's just like chatting. She talks about her own drinking. She talked about other guys that she's dated. She says, oh, I would I would never consider marrying him. I would never marry somebody that I don't know that well.
Whether he's the king of England or some street sweeper doesn't matter.
I don't want to marry somebody. I don't know that well. And she is thinking about this in the days afterwards.
And like I might have told those people more than I should go. This is before the article comes out. So she calls Prince Charles to warn him. She's like, hey, I just want to you know, I talk to some journalists.
I might have said some stuff. And so this is what Tina Brown says in her book.
Cutting People Off is one of the things the royal family does best. They love calibrating their responses from Caudill forthcomingness to subtle freezing withdrawal if you overstepped the mark. When Sarah told Prince Charles that she had given an interview to the press about their relationship, there was a pause and he replied with deadly coldness. You've just done something extremely stupid. Oh, dear. Within hours, the drawbridge was up at Windsor Castle.
This is like when I watch British mysteries with my mom. I can tell when there's a posh guy who's clearly the murderer. And when he confesses to the murder, he's going to say it's because she laughed at him.
That's because so intense. I don't know. I like the current American like legally enforced model better where like, to my knowledge, if you want to be friends with Beyonce, you have to sign an NDA and that's just how it is.
Be clear about it upfront and then we don't have to have scenes later.
So Diana moves on with her life. She's in Swiss boarding school for some period of time, but she ends up dropping out when she's 16. And so then she moves to London, she moves into her mom's apartment with two girlfriends that she knows from school. This is what Andrew Morton says about this period. She had no paper qualifications, no special skills, and only a vague notion that she wanted to work with children. While Diana seemed destined for a life of unskilled, low paid jobs, she was not that much out of the ordinary for girls of her class and background, aristocratic families traditionally invested more thought and effort into educating boys than girls.
There was a tacit assumption that after rounding off their formal education with a cookery or arts course, daughters would join their well-bred friends on the marriage market.
Of course, so as many other people of her social class do, she ends up doing odd jobs. She signs up for a temp employment agency. She ends up working as a waitress. She starts nannying for this random kid of like an American British couple. Her sister hires her to clean her apartment, which is like a fucked up older sister thing to do. She pays her £1 an hour. I sort of like this description. This is from Andrew Morton's book.
He says Her London life was sedate, almost mundane. She didn't smoke and never drink, preferring to spend her free time reading, watching television, visiting friends or going out for supper in modern bistros. Disco DI has only ever existed in the minds of headline writers. In reality, Diana was a loner by inclination and habit.
Maybe she was listening to disco alone. I'm glad she had a nice little intimate life for a minute there.
Yeah, the only other sort of noteworthy thing now is she takes a cooking course again.
This was like something that upper crust kids did and this pissed me off.
Andrew Morton in his book says, Often the glutton and Diana got the better of her and she was frequently told off for dipping her fingers into pants filled with gooey sauces.
She completed the course a few pounds heavier and clutching a diploma for her efforts, clutching it's like, fuck you.
This is somebody who struggled with bulimia for years. Like, don't talk about the glutton in Diana also.
It's just like it's normal for your weight to fluctuate. Yes. And it's normal to taste stuff. And a cooking class. Yes. Everybody relax. Yeah.
And it's just like it's seizing on an excuse to stigmatize someone for the very thing that they tortured themselves about while they were alive and which is a made up problem. So, like, yeah, it's a confusing choice.
And what seems to have been like a very kind of biography, or at least one that was trying to be right, because everything else in the book is so generous to her and weight is the only issue where it's like, oh, no, I can still be kind of shitty to her about this. It's like the only place where, like, his tabloid journalist past gets the better of him.
But anyway, now that I'm all worked up like Dixie Carter and Designing Women, it's wonderful. It's like starting in a TV. You're just like, oh, it's coming.
Yeah. Yeah, I love it. Keep going.
The other thing that happens at this time is she starts teaching ballet. She gets a job at a dance studio on Mountain Road.
According to Andrew Morton, she gets in a skiing accident, something, tendons, something, something, and she can't do it anymore.
According to Tina Brown, she faked the injury and she just stops showing up to the job one day.
Oh, my goodness. Either way, I mean, she's eighteen years old. This is something that 18 year olds do.
So she gets this big old apartment, her parents before for her, she moves in with two of her friends and she describes this as the happiest she will ever be. She's a bachelorette. She's livin with these buddies.
She's part of this sort of thing called the Sloane Rangers.
Have you ever heard of this or are they vigilantes?
Unfortunately not. Sloane Square is a really posh part of London. And Sloane Rangers is it's basically referring to like rich kids hanging out. It's kind of like how we talked about hipsters in the early 2000s.
It just sort of became this archetype just like we were random rich kids cavorting around these rich neighborhoods like, you know, go to nightclubs, going to pubs, driving around in their cars.
This reminds me of our Preppie Murder episode.
Yes, extremely preppie murder. Yes. There's also this lovely anecdote. This is from Andrew Morton's book. Diana Kept a Low. Profile in the apartment, she put herself in charge of cleanup duty and was known to rise before the meal was finished to clear the table rather than endure the sight of dirty dishes. The photographer, Dimitri Kasserine, went to dinner there on the invitation of one of the flatmates, and halfway through, Diana wandered in from a date and even though she hadn't joined us for dinner, went straight to the sink and started doing all the washing up.
She was totally undistinguished. Diana also loved to take on the washing and ironing of shirts for friends.
While she was so weird, she was shy and cleaned things.
She gets a job as a kindergarten teacher. There's rumors about her dating.
Apparently there's some unauthorized biographies to talk about her, like having sex with all these boys. But from all the credible accounts, it sounds like she basically just like friend, zoned a bunch of dudes. She would go out on like dates ish. But a lot of the guys that she went on dates with describe like I wanted to be more than friends, but she very clearly didn't want to. So we go out on like three dates and then we just sort of settle back into being friends.
These are all people that she sort of knew from her social set.
There's a lot of talk later about whether or not she is a virgin when she gets together with Charles, which is hella gross to talk about, but also weirdly important to this story.
I know. So according to Tina Brown, all evidence is that she was, in fact, a virgin when she met Prince Charles. This is not something I would ordinarily mention, but this is like a big subplot we're going to get into in a few minutes.
But everyone cares about it in this story, so we have to talk about it. Yes.
So, OK, now we are going to depart from Diana. She's living her bachelorette life. She's a Lone Ranger. She's doing dishes. We're going to zoom out from London and we're going to zoom into, well, a different part of London where Prince Charles is.
OK, so tell me what you know about Prince Charles. We're going to do like a little Prince Charles interview.
Oh, boy, OK. Prince Charles is the son of Queen Elizabeth. And that guy, Philip, he is in love with Camilla Parker Bowles, I believe, before he marries Diana.
Yes. And I don't know I don't really know what his personality is, I guess know about like his marital history and that he's kind of the villain in the Diana story along with the media. I don't know. I know that he's never come off well in a single story. I've heard about him, but. Yeah, but I feel like I don't really know that much.
So, I mean, he has kind of a similar upbringing to Diana, but everything is supercharged. So the wealth obviously is supercharged. The sense of duty and rules is also supercharged and the loneliness and the weird formal relationship with his parents is supercharged.
So this is an excerpt from Andrew Morton's book. Queen Elizabeth, the second consumed by her duty to the nation, was formal and frequently absent as a mother or deep in her red boxes.
The endless flow of government dispatches concerning affairs of state acceding to the throne when she was only twenty five was an impossible burden for a young married woman whose first child, Charles, was three at the time. She is fated to be defined forever as a mother by the photograph of her returning from her royal tour of the Commonwealth in nineteen fifty four and shaking her five year old son gravely by the hand.
Oh. Oh no. Oh no. Yeah, five year olds weren't meant to shake hands.
This is not good, but it seems like his mother is like this very distant figure. It doesn't seem like she's cool, but she's just aloof. Yeah.
You don't have to be cruel to give someone a complicated childhood. Yes.
And then his father is like this military guy who, like, wants to raise him with these, like, weird, masculine military values, like he's raised by this very harsh Germanic family.
Does he, like, insist on cold corridors for the children like that? Seems like a very fancy British person thing for everyone to be cold all the time.
This is what there was an essay in The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik about this in Twenty Seventeen, where he says Prince Charles's mother, who he would later describe as not indifferent, as much as detached, worried that he was a slow developer. His father, Prince Philip, thought him wheaty, a fit and spoiled. He was too physically uncoordinated to be any good at team sports, too scared of horses to enjoy riding lessons, and too sensitive not to despair.
When at the age of eight, he was sent away to boarding school, he needs a well for boys, like we talked about in our Marie Antoinette episode, and he needs a wells for boys.
Mom, he said to this like, it seems like a terrible boarding school where this is very strange to me. He's bullied at school quite frequently because anyone who tries to be nice to him, all the other kids, we'll call them a suck up. So nobody wants to be his friend at school because then they're going to get accused of like, oh, you want to be friends with a king.
And then he met a lovable Cockney newsboy who is like while we switch places for a week. And then he knew the only true friendship of his life and my.
Fan fiction, unfortunately not, although he does find this is very telling to me that, like all the kids dislike him, but the adults like him, right, because he's like going to be the king and they all want to get close to him.
So this is from Tina Brown's book that he survived this misery was largely due to the various dispensations he was afforded as a VP pupil. He was allowed to spend weekends at the nearby home of family friends where he could cry his eyes out away from the jeers of other boys. In his final year, he was made head boy and given his own room in the apartment of his art master. He had taken up the cello by this point, and although he was, by his own admission, hopeless, the art master arranged for him to give recitals at the weekend house parties of local Scottish aristocrats.
So it's like this weird upbringing where it's like he's totally alienated from other kids his age, but he constantly hanging out with these aristocrat adults, playing cello for the duke of what the fuck, Duke?
What the fuck? It's actually worse if there's an. Oh, yeah, right. Sorry.
So the two things that seem to characterise Prince Charles to me is this, like, very weird, regimented upbringing that makes me feel very sorry for him, but also the fact that he is so spoiled and so detached, he is among the most clueless humans on everything, like he has never had a friend in his life who was not acutely aware of the fact that he was the prince and would be king someday.
And so he is the center of every interaction he has ever had. Right.
So this is another excerpt from the Gopnik article.
The man we encounter here is a Ninni, a whinger, a tantrum throwing dilatant, hopelessly thin skinned, naive and resentful. He is a preening snob, keenly sensitive to violations of protocol, intolerant of opinions contrary to his own, and horribly misled about the extent of his own talents.
He is a prolix circular thinker, more of an intellectual striver than a genuine intellectual who extols Indian slums for their sustainable way of life and preaches against the corrupting allure of sophistication. While himself living in unfathomable luxury, he reportedly travels with a white leather toilet seat and rages on the rare occasions when he has to fly first class rather than in a private jet.
That's such a tacky item to come on.
Oh my God. I know. I imagined him just like carrying it with him as he gets on the plane. Like those people that have neck pillows. Oh, yeah.
Under his arm. Yeah, under his little blazoned arm.
So of course, he is like Britain's most eligible bachelor. Right. Like the royal family needs him to marry somebody.
They need him to marry someone super fertile. One assumes an extremely maximum number of reproductive years, fallopian tubes, all eight fallopian tubes or something.
So although it sounds deeply weird to date him because he doesn't know how to have normal interactions with people. So all the people that have dated him before and they've all given interviews by now, they say the entire dating process is like, why don't you come and watch me play polo? Or like, why don't you come with me on my yachting excursion? It's like all built around him.
So he's like, I assume that you're interested in watching me ride a horse. Yes, exactly. Or like literally this there's some former girlfriend of his who has complained to the newspapers that their first date was like six hours of her watching him fish.
There's various different accounts of sort of how much of a bachelor he was this time.
Tina Brown says that there were so many women that his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had a slush fund where he would pay like hush money to women to slink quietly into the night, although according to a biography of him that came out in twenty seventeen, this was mostly the royal family concocting this for the press to make it seem like he was this like Playboy.
And he's like playing the field when actually he was kind of diffident and awkward and wasn't that interested in all of these conquests.
Right. So apparently one of the ways that he gets around this is he sleeps with a lot of married women.
The British tabloids are at once so salacious, but also so naive. They wouldn't hassle married women that he was seen publicly with because they're like, oh, they must just be friends because she's married.
Oh, my God. Really? Yeah, apparently. Wow.
And also, all of the speculation about his love life is leading up to like, who's going to be the future queen if somebody's already married? They're not going to be the future queen because either they have to divorce their partner or they're just friends.
So the first girl that it appears he ever gets like truly, madly smitten with is Camilla Parker Bowles.
Oh, my goodness. That's amazing. Yes. What do you what do you know about her? Oh, I guess know that they're the same age and that I feel like it was understood by the British public during Charles and Diana's marriage that he was really in love with Camilla Parker Bowles. But they couldn't be together. They couldn't get married.
And then when they finally did get married a few years ago, it was just like, well, finally, yeah, it was like a love match facing off against.
Errors and error making requirements, and this is really kind of the start of the whole story that, like, they can't be together for some reason.
Yeah, so Carmilla is yeah. She's two years older than him. This is a description of her from a Guardian article that I found. She was the oldest child of Major Bruce Shand, a wine merchant, and Rosalind Cubitt, whose family once developed most of London's Belgravia. She attended Dumbrell School, Sussex and Queens Gate in South Kensington, where she is remembered for climbing onto the roof for cigarettes. She emerged with one O level and a talent for fencing.
She has never needed to work because of a 500000 pound inheritance from the Cubitt family. Millo, as she was known, was a regular tomboy with an extrovert personality. She was the focus of attention not because she was dazzlingly beautiful, but because she was so bright and bubbly. She wasn't going to be a movie star, but she was always very smart and very well turned out.
Everyone who describes Camilla Parker Bowles feels the need to talk about her looks. I think she looks fine.
Yeah, I mean, I guess compared to Diana, like we all look like shit, but like every description of her, they have to mention that, like, she's not conventionally attractive in some way, but like, she's perfectly lovely.
You know, the phrase conventionally attractive is one that every time I use that, I feel weird. And I feel like what we're naming more specifically with that is like marketable, attractive, like here's a form of attractiveness that has reliably earned money and like the last fifty years and America or Britain basically, I guess it doesn't even mean that like most people do or don't find something sexually appealing or whatever we're trying to describe, it just means that it sells Pepsi.
Right. And also Charles likes her like everyone is lovely to people who find them lovely. Like it's a completely subjective distinction. And it's clear that Charles really likes her.
I've had a crush on Walter Matthau for like longer than I care to admit. It's fun. Everyone has their feelings.
Camilla has like sort of a rushed, sloppy, irritated and alive kind of quality. This is from Tina Brown's book. Camilla was English Countryside through and through. She never cared about clothes or makeup or shopping. She came from the grubby knickers school of British grooming with static lying hedgerow hair and fingernails used to rooting around in the vegetable garden. She pulled her appearance together only when she rode to hounds, showing off her whip, cracking mastery of the sport in tight jodhpurs, frothing white stock and elegant black net snood.
I don't know what any of those words mean.
The woman had jodhpurs and doesn't need anything else.
Maryhill, then the Hawaiian model who dated Camilla's brother, remembers Kamila's earthy appeal at country weekends. She used to come in in these big muddy boots with her hair all blown around and good skin, and she just looked great somehow. So clearly there's like a real magnetism there.
Oh, yeah. And it's also worth pointing out that I think the classiest thing you can do is be kind of a hot mess express because by communicating that you don't care, you're indicating that you have the privilege to not need to care. Right. And that is always like the fanciest possible thing you do.
And also, apparently, one of the things that he likes about her is that she's not really deferential to him. She's not like in awe of him the way that like everybody else is.
Oh, yeah, OK. Of course, he's like, oh, Camilla, call me Charlie again. Yeah.
So the myth of their romance is that they met in nineteen seventy two when she saw him at a polo match.
And you, I mean you just know that this is fake. But the story is that she walks up to him and introduces herself with the line. Hello, my great grandmother was the mistress of your great grandfather. How about it. Which is like a really fucking good line. But I feel like people do not walk up to each other and say good lines.
Do you feel like it's been sweetened in the retelling? Like maybe it was like kind of a good line when she said it?
No, I mean, I feel like most people when they meet, they're like, how's your day been? Or like, I think it's going to rain or like, you know, we say boring things to each other at first, too.
Is that shrimp? Yes. Yeah.
But so apparently they had actually met a year or 18 months earlier at the home of a common friend named Lucia Santa Cruz. They sat next to each other. She was like not sucking up to him and he liked her and they laughed at the same stuff. And so they started talking on the phone. So by the time this polo match, whatever Czinger story happens, they've already been in each other's orbit for a while.
The problem, though, and I think this is probably why she's less deferential to him at the time, she is totally smitten with this guy, Andrew Parker Bowles, who's a Navy military guy.
They've been having an on and off thing for six years at this point. So I think when she meets Charles, she's not like, oh, I want to get Charles to marry me. She's like, I like this guy. There's like this doofus sitting next to me and I'm. He's going to like crack jokes with him, right? So, of course, he is attracted to her because she doesn't like him very much. Yes. Yeah, but so in 1972, after this polo meeting in some way or another, Andrew is out of the picture.
Camilla and Charles finally decide, like, OK, let's let's give this a go. And they start dating. So they date four. They have six months together as sort of officially dating at the end of this period.
He has to go off and live on a warship for eight months. This is like something that he does as part of his royal duties. And there's always a question of like, why didn't he just marry her in the first place? Right. They dated for six months. They're wild about each other at this point, apparently, but they didn't get married. He fucked off on this Navy thing.
How old is he at this point? How old are they? She is twenty three and he is twenty one when they meet. Yeah, well, I guess that's young to get married.
There's also his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and the sort of the entire royal family doesn't want him to marry her because she's not a virgin.
How do they know that? I mean, everybody knows everything. I mean, the dating is Andrew Guy for a while.
That's so weird. That's why it's bad. According to Tina Brown's book, Camilla, they describe her as like a learning experience for Charles.
You're having fun, but like ultimately she's not marriage material.
So they block that. He fucks off to his Navy thing for eight months and then while he's gone, she marries Andrew Parker Bowles. And the way that this comes about, this is bananas.
Her parents had been very frustrated with this whole thing because she's getting older. She's on again, off again with Andrew Guy. Like, are they going to pull the trigger on this thing or what?
She's twenty three. She's got to act fast. So their strategy is they put an engagement announcement in the newspaper saying Andrew proposed to Camilla. No. Oh that's terrible.
Well that's a great way to ensure a happy marriage. Right. Right.
And then apparently Andrew sees this and is like I guess I got to marry her now. It's done. Well done. Deal. Yeah.
So it's a bold strategy. It's a risky strategy, but it works.
That's exactly like the peep show episode where Mark Mary certainly out of embarrassment and also.
OK, so there's sort of this this like star crossed lovers story of Charles and Camilla that, like, they were desperately in love with each other. But, you know, circumstances push them apart. Tina Brown and other people over the years have pointed out that Camilla is wildly smitten with Andrew. She's not waiting for Charles to get back.
Yeah, this is what Tina Brown says.
My own view is that the love of Camila's life was not Prince Charles, but the man she married first, Andrew Parker Bowles. He seems to have been and still is one of those men who have the gift of bringing out the delicious worst in every woman he meets.
Nice. I marry him, too. I mean, the whole thing is he is sleeping with other people for their entire courtship. I mean, almost immediately after he marries Camilla, he starts cheating on her. So it seems that when Charles finds out that she's engaged to Andrew, he cries for like days. He's completely devastated. So we fast forward a little bit.
One of the odd things about this is that even though they've dated and now she's gotten with Andrew, Camilla and Charles remain quite close. So he's good friends with Andrew in nineteen seventy five, Camilla and Andrew have a son and they ask Prince Charles to be the godfather. And so in nineteen seventy nine, Lord Mountbatten, his great uncle, is killed by the IRA and he was very close to his great uncle. He is totally bereft. He starts calling Camilla for comfort and it appears that this is when they rekindle their relationship.
And there's also this very weird thing. There's some ball or like formal dance that they're at where it's late in the evening. You know, everybody drinks at these things. Charles and Camilla on the dance floor are just like making out with each other all night.
So Andrew apparently is watching this from the balcony. He's watching his wife make out with Prince Charles. And he just comments to his friend that she seems fond of him and he seems fond of her.
He's kind of chill. Yeah. Do you think that at a certain point people are so British that it becomes like absolutely outrageous behavior, you know, just like making more comments as your wife basically fucked someone in public.
But so all of this produces all of this panic among the royal family because Prince Charles is now thirty two. He's not married. He's making out with this woman who he used to date in public. And people are gossiping about it. And there's no other option to become the queen.
Right, because it's obviously not going to be Camilla.
So according to Tina Brown, this is when the palace starts looking around for other options there.
Like who are the virgins that, like, are from? Royal blood that we can sort of start to push into our son's orbit, and so this is when they stumble upon Diana.
So in Andrew Morton's book, he doesn't really go into any of this background stuff. He just says that, like Diana got an invitation to a thing at their country estate and she went to this person's birthday party where the royal family was also like, she just starts getting invitations to stuff.
So in July of nineteen eighty, she gets an invitation to a weekend party of some sort of earl of something, something it's some like manor house weekend.
I guess they do these a lot where it's like everybody goes and crashes at somebody's country home for a weekend and then somebody gets murdered and then finds the murderer.
So she goes to this manor home in the middle of nowhere. She watches Prince Charles play polo all day because that's like what people do.
And then there's like a polo after party and it's a barbecue. They're all hanging out and she ends up sitting on a bale of hay next to the prince.
Why do they have a bale of hay? I guess it's like in a barn or something. All right. According to Andrew Morton, she sort of ends up sitting next to Prince Charles. According to Tina Brown, she was like angling to get close to Prince Charles the entire time. And like this was her purpose. She had a crush on him.
She wanted to get into his good graces. But either way, they end up chatting on this bale of hay. Apparently, the thing that Diana does that awakens his feelings for her and gives him a little crush on her is she's talking about how she saw him at his great uncle's funeral.
And so what she says to him is, you look so sad when you walked up the aisle at Lord Mountbatten's funeral, it was the most tragic thing I've ever seen. My heart bled for you when I watched. I thought, it's wrong. You're lonely. You should be with someone to look after you. Oh, I know.
Cause he's like I like this. This lady's nice to me. Yeah. No one knows how to do that here.
The way the Tina Brown puts it, she says Diana was appealing to his deep reservoirs of sympathy for himself.
OK, it basically is extremely attractive.
Nice girl singing to like one of those privileged people on the planet being like, things must be so hard for you.
And he's like, thank you. Yes. Yeah, it is hard. I am amazed.
And if she is someone who empathizes with what someone feels to be true, then like, yeah, she can validate that for him. I saying it, I'm getting it.
So they chat late into the night like they really click on this bale of hay. He is so smitten with her that, you know, it's this weekend thing. He's like, know, sorry, I've got to drive back to Buckingham Palace on Sunday afternoon a little bit early, but why don't you come with me? I'll drive you back to London. And she says, no, I couldn't possibly that would be rude to our hosts, which is like very canny.
Because she's not like you've invited me to this thing and I'm going to do it no matter what she's like.
I got other stuff to do. Yeah. I always leave them wanting more.
So he invites her to go see Verdi's Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall. At least he doesn't invite her to go watch him ride a horse. I know this is a great break from the other things that he does on dates. It's also this is one of the weirdest fucking things about their courtship. They only meet 13 times and most of those times they're not alone with each other.
So even at this date where they go to the Royal Albert Hall together, her grandmother comes along as a chaperone. Can you imagine dating somebody?
And like a lot of the time you spend with them, your grandma is there? No, I cannot. The whole thing's weird. Also, another detail that everybody always repeats about this is that she does not call him Charles until after the engagement. She calls him sir for the entire courtship.
Oh, my God, it's so weird. Wow.
Also, he only tells her about their date at the Royal Albert Hall. Twenty minutes before the car comes to pick her up, because, again, they're not like talking on the phone about logistics, like, oh, what are you doing Wednesday? Oh, that doesn't work for me. Everything is through, like his footman. So he writes a formal letter to the staff at Buckingham Palace of, like, I wish to see Lady Diana.
And then there's all this logistics that has to take place. So by the time she finds out, she only has twenty minutes to get ready. Oh, no.
I mean, it all works out, but like, it just shows like how incredibly surreal these things are, that it's like there's dozens of people involved in just like meet me at the Royal Albert Hall, let's see some music together.
So how does the day go?
Apparently it goes well. They go to the thing. Verdie is fun. They have supper afterwards at Buckingham Palace. Wow. She's I mean, she's quite chill about the whole thing. Like, again, she's been sort of in the orbit of the royals for most of her life. Right.
That's the thing. Like, she does understand his childhood because she knows what it's like to grow up. It's like a lonely, bored, fancy person. Yeah.
And she knows all the weird dumb rules about like what you're allowed to talk about, which fork to use, like when to use a napkin, when not to use a napkin, like the things you're allowed to talk about. And not a lot like she knows this stuff. So after that date, he then invites her this to me is a fucking horror movie. He then invites her for a week long trip on like some Royal Navy British yacht that he's going to be on.
But this is their second date is a week long trip on a boat. Oh, God. This to me, like as an introvert, the idea of like, I barely know this person, I am going to hang out with them and like their work friends that are like 15 years older than me, none of whom I've met for an entire fucking week.
Yeah, it goes very vener baseball game, camping one week on a British Royal Naval Yard. Yes, that's the order.
And then they're fucking third date is his country estate, Balmoral in Scotland, because it's like the official royal seat. There's all of these Barock rules about manners. This is what Andrew Morton says. The quirks and obscure family traditions which have accrued over the years can intimidate newcomers. Don't sit there. They course at an unfortunate guest, foolish enough to try and sit in a chair in the drawing room, which was last used by Queen Victoria.
Those who successfully navigate this social minefield are accepted into the royal family.
Now, those who fail vanish from royal favour as quickly as the highland mists come and go.
Oh, this is our Tina Brown describes the same thing.
Guests are expected to perform a Keystone Kops routine of constant costume changes from informal breakfast attire to sporting clothing for going out with the guns to another change into afternoon wear for tea. And then it all comes off again in favour of something long and dressy for dinner.
How about I wear leggings to all of your stupid stuff? She says.
The irony of this is that this is the royal family at their most relaxed. It's the most uninhibitedly carefree they ever get to be at a crossing.
I am from the West Coast.
There's like three things a week that I can't go to in sweatpants if I can't wear a fleece pullover to it that I don't want to go.
Yes, exactly. And so it's a weird courtship because they're not like hanging out with each other.
It's a series of tests. It's a series of social tests. Yes. This weekend at Balmoral is also in another piece of foreshadowing. The first time they have to avoid the paparazzi.
She goes on a walk with him, like on the riverbank or whatever, and they see journalists with cameras sort of in the distance. And so she very smartly dashes behind a tree so that they can't see her because all they can see at this point is sort of like a head of blonde hair.
They don't know who this is. And so she turns around so that all they can see is the back of her head and she uses her makeup mirror to look at them in the distance and manages to walk away without them getting a shot of her face.
That's brilliant. Very brilliant. So, like, how much of a deep conversation are you having with your date under those circumstances?
I know, but so even though the paparazzi can't identify her at that time, they would ever ask around rumours, leaks, whatever they find out within days who she is.
And this is when I mean, this is the rest of her life, like they immediately start hounding her. And so this is bananas.
They start you know, they start following her around all the sort of the stuff that you expect, like they start weeding outside of her house.
Tabloid journalists rent an apartment across the street from her apartment so they can buy in through her kitchen window.
Oh, my God. So there's actual photos. You can still find them of her, like doing dishes at the sink. Really? It's so gross.
So she's living under circumstances of constant 24 hour press scrutiny for months. And she's only seeing Charles like once or twice a month during this period.
Right. Like they're not hanging out all the time. So it's just like her life being completely turned upside down and him basically being clueless about how much this is affecting her.
So I'm going to send you another photo. This photo is iconic. If you are British, you have seen this photo ten billion times.
I know of this picture, right? Yeah. So she's got two kids.
She's holding a little kid on her hip and she's holding the hand of another little kid. And she's looking out kind of shyly and reservedly from underneath her hair. And on top, she's wearing a sweater vest and on bottom, she's wearing a beautiful white sundress that is completely See-Through when the light is shining behind her as it is. And so you can totally see the outline of her legs, which I presume she's not aware of. Yes.
So this is her at her kindergarten job at the time. There are so many paparazzi hounding the kindergarten that she comes out and says, look, if I give you a photo, will you go away for the rest of the day?
And they agree. And so they go into the yard. She's got these little kindergarten, these adorable kindergartners with her, and she doesn't realize that the son is behind her. And so they take this photo, which is now iconic, where her legs look amazing, like everything looks amazing.
Oh, yeah, of course.
And so, of course, this is like a massive. Tabloids story like this. This picture is iconic for a reason, right? Breaking news, women have legs. This is also in the parade of red flags that this courtship is apparently when Prince Charles finds out, he says, I knew your legs were good, but I didn't realize they were that spectacular.
Dot, dot, dot. And did you really have to show them to everybody?
Not great. So you assume that she was like, I think I'll show everyone my legs today. Do the old See-Through legs trick?
Well, I mean, I do understand that there's a level at which he truly doesn't know what it's like to not grow up with this level of scrutiny. Bullying. It's weird. It sucks. Yeah.
It feels like no one wants to acknowledge that it's terrible and that they're asking her to, like, sign on to this terrible way of life. Terrible. Like, it's not terrible. You're terrible. Yeah.
There's also I wanted to throw the book across the room.
Apparently, there's a point where they're chatting on the phone and he fucking talks to her about how Camilla is struggling because there's three photographers outside of her house.
He's like, oh, you know, it's been a really rough week on Camilla. She's got three photographers. And apparently Diana thinks but doesn't say there are thirty two at my house, one for every year.
You've been alive princi. Right.
At one point she asks Buckingham Palace, she's like, can you help me with this? Like, can you do anything for me, like help me with cars or like help me with decoys for them or something. And they refuse to help her because, like, she's just some random person.
So she talks in the transcripts of the Andrew Morton interviews how she would you know, she has to look composed. Right. You can't give the paparazzi anything. And so as soon as she would get home, she would just, like, sit in a corner and cry because she just, like, didn't know how to deal with it.
She's also I mean, one of the reasons why they end up together is actually how she gets through this period because, you know, she saw what happened to her sister when her sister talked to the press. So she's very good with the press. She won't give them any insight into her. Right. She'll make it seem as if she's giving them access while keeping anything that would be in any way out of the ordinary, out of the press. They also, of course, start looking into her background.
They interview everybody she's ever dated, the vetting that she goes through. It's like, you know, it's like what we would experience as like a presidential candidate now, like of this 19 year old girl, everyone who's ever served her coffee at a coffee shop is getting interviewed by tabloid journalists.
And another thing the royal family really likes is that they don't find anything. All of the men that she's dated have been like, yeah, I liked her, but never went anywhere.
So she passes through the machine. Yeah.
And so the royal family is looking at this and is like the press likes her. She's beautiful. She appears to be a virgin, like she doesn't appear to have had a serious relationship with anybody else. There's nothing in her past like they're not getting anything from the tabloids. And so she starts to look like a really good candidate to the royal family.
So it's so fucking weird. I'm also thinking of how, like mostly I think of, you know, if you like me to her again, it's because you're in a horror movie and you need someone to read an incantation.
Yes. The only sort of hitch is there's at one point a scoop, a rumor that she was snuck onto the royal train, which is exactly what it sounds like, and that she and Charles had some sort of like overnight tryst, which appears to actually be true.
Like there was a rumor for years that it was actually Camilla who was snuck into his train. But it appears that it actually was Diana.
But it's also it's the most non scoop that she had sex with the man she was eventually going to marry pretty soon, and that she's dating like she's she's an adult and she's dating somebody and they're having sex.
Stop the presses. That that woman that has legs, you know, she has sex, also sex and legs.
But what's amazing is that even though this appears to be true, the royal family and Diana both vehemently deny it. And the royal family actually threatens to sue the newspaper that prints and I publicly like they publicly come out with a letter like this is slanderous. How dare you print that?
We had sex in the royal train because they have to preserve this idea that she's a virgin.
You have to maintain the integrity of the vessel.
You. Yes, this is Tina Brown sort of summing up the courtship. See if you can count how many red flags there are. OK, she had never had a real boyfriend before and so had no yardstick with which to compare Charles's behavior during their bizarre courtship. She was his willing puppy who came to heel when he whistled. It was no more than he expected. As the Prince of Wales. He was used to being the center of attention and the focus of flattery and praise.
He aroused her mothering instincts. When she came back from a date with the prince, she would be full of sympathy for him, uttering phrases like they work him too hard or it's appalling the way they push him around in her eyes. He was a sad, lonely man who needed looking after.
Oh, it's it's Jane Eyre in Rochester. It's like these horrible older man who's like, you are pure. I'm young and I can see your legs. I know. And you're like, I think. This is going to go well and at every level, it's just like think this through you guys like she's never had a boyfriend before. Her first boyfriend is the fucking prince of Wales.
He has no standards for how she expects to be treated. Yeah, she's going into something that it's going to be very difficult to get out of. Right. Right.
And also, people mentioned later that he has a history of being infatuated with people and then those infatuations fade.
So it does appear that, like he likes her at this time. He's also, by the way, sleeping with Camilla. Both Camilla and Charles have confirmed that they have rekindled their affair by this point. But he seems like smitten with Diana as well, like he seems to actually like her.
What's not to like? Right. He actually said something like slightly insightful. He's being bothered by the press on some royal tours or something, something to India. And they're like, so, you know, are you thinking about marriage? And he says, well, you know, I can't live with a woman for two years like you possibly could. I've got to get it right the first time, because if I don't, you'll be the first to criticize me.
So he's like in some way aware of, like, the gilded cage that he's in.
Do you think that there's any element of just like getting it done with as fast as possible so people stop bothering you about it?
Oh, yeah. I think she's genuinely smitten and he's like, yeah, I really like her. But also, like, there's all this duty, like I'm almost thirty three. Like the only person actually who tells Diana to like maybe think it through is her mother. She's telling her mother, like, I don't know why you're being hesitant about this. Like I really love this guy. And her mother asks, well do you love him or do you love what he is?
And Diana says, What's the difference? So the last thing before we close for the day is his proposal.
I bet it was great. I bet it was so romantic. I he took her to an island game and got her on the Jumbotron.
Now he doesn't even take her anywhere. So it is February 6th, 1981. This is how Diana describes it in the transcripts to the Andrew Morton book. She says, Next day I went to Windsor and I arrived around five o'clock. He sat me down and said, I've missed you so much. But there was never anything tactile about him. It was extraordinary. But I don't have anything to go by because I never had a boyfriend. So he said, Will you marry me?
And I laughed. I remember thinking, this is a joke. And I said, Yeah, OK. And I laughed. He was deadly serious. He said, You do realize that one day you will be queen. And I've always said to me inside, you won't be queen, but you'll have a tough role. So I thought, OK. And I said, yes. I said, I love you so much. I love you so much.
And he said, whatever love means.
Oh, wow. This is really interesting because they both sat down and told the truth to each other's faces and then still went ahead and went and did it.
Yes. Which is exactly what people do. They know a lot of people really do know what their life is going to be like going in, but knowing it is different than living it.
And then also in another sort of metaphor for what the relationship is about to be, as soon as she says yes, she like runs upstairs because he has to tell the queen and like, get the wheels in motion for, like a royal wedding. Right.
It's not like, oh, let's sit here and cuddle and just like enjoy this for a couple hours. It's like, no thanks. Pitter patter, pitter patter, patter.
It seems like there's very little cuddling in this world. Oh, and like Diana was maybe a cuddly person and that was one of the tragedies of her life.
And so she goes home to celebrate. She tells her friends she is ecstatic. By all accounts, she is absolutely ecstatic during this period. Yeah.
She seems to feel a lot of real affection for him. Yeah. Like not just swept off her feet by the fairy tale of it all, but by the fact that, like, here is this like visibly screwed up guy in a way that she perhaps understands. And perhaps what she doesn't understand is her ability to affect that.
I mean, it's your first boyfriend and everyone has a bad boy, her first boyfriend. And you're like, I'm going to fix you. I know this is classic. She's just having her. She's cut her Taylor Swift feeling.
I know that's the thing I like as someone also with like I'm going to fix you type instincts. The only way to learn that you have those instincts is to just have a couple relationships where it goes badly that aren't with the principal.
Yeah, exactly. That's my advice. Don't marry the Prince of Wales. Just don't do it. But so the last little nugget of information I'm going to leave you with is one of the people pushing for them to get married is Camilla Parker Bowles.
That was going to be my guess, because if Charles is married, then they can fuck around as much as you want, I would imagine, because the press is going to be focused on the marriage and the beautiful wife with the outfits on.
And Camilla, it seems like like Diana at this point, she's been around like they've met each other at various of these, like dinner parties and things. And Camilla will sort of give her advice on Charles. And she basically thinks that Diana's harmless and that like eventually Charles is going to have to get married anyway. Right. So if he's going to get married, you know, we want to be able to continue our affair. So, like, he might as well marry somebody who, like, seems, you know, nice.
The word that Tina Brown uses as gormless. Like somebody who's not really going to figure out what's really going on, she's not going to be suspicious. This is Tina Brown's wording. The youngest Spencer girl was such a sweet little thing, she was sure to be quiet, passive and obedient. How could she possibly be any trouble, though?
That's we're going to leave it. Oh, boy, this is ominous. I know.
I wanted to put something ominous, the end to make people tune into the next episode of frivolity.
You know, I know of it that we're calling this frivolity. And in many ways it is. But also I think that there are human themes and all of these stories and we're trying to find them. So thank you for trying to do that. We're just going to keep trying to do that. Yes. As well as we can.
I mean, ultimately, this is a story of a love triangle between three deeply flawed people.
And then they'll be like, maybe things will calm down when we have kids. I know.
It's like maybe I'll just marry into the royal family and then things will smooth out.
Yeah, I bet that'll happen. Oh, I'll work on the plane. Yes.
If someone wants to write a book about the lies we tell ourselves, they should just be called I'll Work on the Plane thing.
That has never been true. I think it happened for me maybe three times, but I've told myself that confidently, like two fifty times.
Mine is I'll do stretches at home. Never I've never done stretches at all. But it's just nice to tell yourself that it's a ritual of my Hammy's.
So that's we're going to leave it next week.
We are going to pick up with the royal wedding, which is Bonnano point to our best in a non visual medium to convey its bananas. Miss, I'm excited.
And yeah, let's just let's continue the story and try and see all these people. Yeah. As clearly as we can.
And if anybody ever suggests getting a camel for your kid's birthday party, get them a hug instead.