Ex-body­guard says Diana would have loved can­did doc­u­men­tary

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Jill Law­less ©2017 The New York Times

Pro­duc­ers of a new doc­u­men­tary about Princess Diana say it of­fers in­sight. Crit­ics say it’s noth­ing but ex­ploita­tion. But a for­mer body­guard says Diana would have been pleased that can­did record­ings of her are be­ing broad­cast in Bri­tain for the first time.

Friends of the late princess have slammed a Bri­tish broad­caster’s de­ci­sion to air pri­vate record­ings in which she speaks frankly about her un­happy mar­riage to Prince Charles, com­ment­ing on their sex life, her fury at her hus­band’s mis­tress and her love for an­other man.

Yet Ken Wharfe, Diana’s pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer be­tween 1986 and 1993, says the princess, who died in 1997, would ap­pre­ci­ate the chance to be heard.

“She would love it,” Wharfe told the As­so­ci­ated Press in an interview Wed­nes­day. “‘For the first time’, she would say, ‘peo­ple are ac­tu­ally lis­ten­ing to and hear­ing what I am say­ing.’”

Wharfe also serves as a com­men­ta­tor in the doc­u­men­tary.

Diana was a huge star in her life­time — at once princess, style icon, char­ity worker and tabloid celebrity — and has rarely been out of the news since her shock­ing death in a Paris car crash 20 years ago this month. But she has usu­ally been seen through the eyes and words of others.

“Diana: In Her Own Words,” which airs Sun­day on Chan­nel 4, in­cludes por­tions of record­ings made by Diana’s voice coach Peter Set­te­len in 1992 and 1993, just af­ter Diana and Charles sep­a­rated.

They di­vorced in 1996, and Charles mar­ried his long­time paramour Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005.

Por­tions of the tapes were broad­cast by U.S. net­work NBC in 2004 but they have never been shown in Bri­tain.

The tapes were made to help Diana prac­tice pub­lic speak­ing as she struck out on her own in a ca­reer de­voted to char­ity work. On cam­era, she seems re­laxed and keen to tell her side of the story.

She re­counts Charles’ awk­ward at­tempts to woo her — “He chat­ted me up like a bad rash” — and says of the cou­ple’s sex life: “Once ev­ery three weeks and then it fiz­zled out.”

Diana dis­cusses her bat­tle with bu­limia, say­ing: “I didn’t think I was good enough for this fam­ily, so I took it out on my­self.”

Diana also talks about fall­ing “deeply in love” in the 1980s with her body­guard Barry Man­na­kee, who later died in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent.

“That was the big­gest blow in my life,” Diana says.

She also de­scribes con­fronting her hus­band and Parker Bowles at a party — a mo­ment that Wharfe said marked “the real be­gin­ning of the end” of the royal mar­riage.

“She re­al­ized there was no chance of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” he said. “There was only one di­rec­tion and that was di­vorce.”

The in­ti­macy of the con­ver­sa­tions has drawn crit­i­cism from some peo­ple close to Diana. Her friend Rosa Mon­ck­ton said the ma­te­rial “doesn’t be­long in the pub­lic do­main.”

“It is a be­trayal of her pri­vacy and of the fam­ily’s pri­vacy,” she told The Guardian news­pa­per.

The of­fice of Diana’s sons, Prince Wil­liam and Prince Harry, has de­clined to com­ment on the pro­gram.

Chan­nel 4 said the tapes are “im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal source” and the sub­jects cov­ered “a mat­ter of pub­lic record.”

The video­tapes have had a twist­ing jour­ney to pub­lic view. They were seized by Bri­tish po­lice dur­ing a 2001 raid on the home of Diana’s for­mer but­ler, Paul Bur­rell, who was ac­cused of steal­ing from the princess.

The case against Bur­rell was later aban­doned. Diana’s fam­ily made a le­gal claim to the record­ings but they were even­tu­ally re­turned to Set­te­len.

Wharfe — who has a book coming out next week on his time with the princess — says the doc­u­men­tary is a valu­able re­minder of Diana’s role in “the re­shap­ing of the monar­chy.”

Her death un­leashed a pub­lic out­pour­ing of grief in Bri­tain and around the world. The royal fam­ily, whose stoic re­serve sud­denly seemed out of touch, has since soft­ened its stiff up­per lip.

Wil­liam and Harry have both cam­paigned for more open dis­cus­sion of men­tal health, and have spo­ken of their own strug­gles af­ter their mother’s death when they were only 15 and 12.

“They are pick­ing up ex­actly where their mother left off,” Wharfe said. “In my view, the queen — to this day — and other mem­bers of the royal fam­ily have a lot to thank Diana for.”

The Se­nate on Thurs­day gave fi­nal approval to leg­is­la­tion to fi­nance the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, clear­ing the mea­sure for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and tap­ping drug man­u­fac­tur­ers once again to help pay for the fed­eral re­view of pre­scrip­tion drugs and med­i­cal de­vices.

The 94-1 vote came just hours af­ter the Se­nate passed a sep­a­rate bill ex­pand­ing ac­cess to ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ments for peo­ple with ter­mi­nal ill­nesses. This bill, the Right to Try Act, will now go to the House, where more than three dozen law­mak­ers have en­dorsed sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion.

Trump is ex­pected to sign the bill reau­tho­riz­ing user fees to pay for the agency to re­view med­i­cal de­vices, brand-name drugs, generic drugs and biosim­i­lars, which are copy­cat ver­sions of costly bi­o­logic drugs made from liv­ing or­gan­isms.

The House ap­proved the user fee bill by voice vote July 12.

The vote capped an of­ten frus­trat­ing seven months for Repub­li­cans, who hoped to churn out reams of con­ser­va­tive leg­is­la­tion with their con­trol of both cham­bers and the White House. Since the dra­matic fail­ure of the Se­nate’s health care re­peal bill last week, law­mak­ers have seemed re­signed to more in­cre­men­tal suc­cesses.

“We’re pass­ing crit­i­cal leg­is­la­tion. We’re con­firm­ing nom­i­nees to im­por­tant po­si­tions,” Sen. Mitch Mc­Connell of Ken­tucky, the ma­jor­ity leader, said from the Se­nate floor Thurs­day, cit­ing a se­ries of vet­er­ans’ bills and the con­fir­ma­tion this week of a new FBI di­rec­tor, Christopher Wray. “We’re tak­ing steps in the right di­rec­tion.”

Yet, even on their fi­nal day in ses­sion, law­mak­ers were re­minded of the of­ten un­com­fort­able mar­riage be­tween Trump and the Repub­li­can-led Congress. Trump lashed out over a bill — which he signed grudg­ingly this week — to sanc­tion Rus­sia for med­dling in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and for its ag­gres­sion to­ward its neigh­bors. The leg­is­la­tion also limits Trump’s abil­ity to lift or sus­pend the sanc­tions him­self.

The mea­sure, which the ad­min­is­tra­tion sought to block as it moved through the Capi­tol in re­cent weeks, is among the most sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ments of this Congress.

Some sen­a­tors are also ma­neu­ver­ing in re­sponse to the White House’s crit­i­cisms of Robert Mueller, the spe­cial coun­sel lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ties be­tween peo­ple in Trump’s or­bit and Rus­sia. On Thurs­day, Sen. Thom Til­lis, R-N.C., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would al­low for ju­di­cial re­view if a spe­cial coun­sel was re­moved.

The FDA bill, which passed over­whelm­ingly in both houses, was a strug­gle, tak­ing law­mak­ers more than a year to forge a con­sen­sus among Repub­li­cans, Democrats, FDA of­fi­cials and drug and de­vice com­pa­nies.

“This is a bill that’s been done the right way,” said Sen. La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee, chair­man of the Se­nate health com­mit­tee, in a sub­tle dig at Repub­li­can lead­ers who by­passed the com­mit­tee and Democrats on their failed push to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act. “It’s an ex­am­ple of the way the Se­nate is sup­posed to work.”

The food and drug agency de­pends on user fees to speed the approval of drugs while main­tain­ing strict stan­dards of drug safety.

“User fees, where com­pa­nies fund a por­tion of the pre­mar­ket re­view of their prod­ucts, ac­count for more than a quar­ter of all FDA fund­ing, yet the FDA’s au­thor­ity to col­lect th­ese fees will ex­pire at the end of next month un­less Congress acts. That’s the ur­gency of get­ting this bill across the fin­ish line,” said Sen. Su­san Collins, R-Maine.

The bill in­cludes a pro­posal by Collins in­tended to pre­vent huge, un­jus­ti­fied cost in­creases on decades­old pre­scrip­tion medicines that have no com­pe­ti­tion. The leg­is­la­tion di­rects the agency to speed the re­view of generic drug ap­pli­ca­tions when prod­ucts on the mar­ket have lit­tle or no com­pe­ti­tion.

The “right-to-try bill,” in­tro­duced by Sen. Ron John­son, R-Wis., aims to es­tab­lish a new path­way for ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients to gain ac­cess to ex­per­i­men­tal drugs that have not been ap­proved by the FDA.


Bri­tain’s Princess Diana and her hus­band, Prince Charles, take shel­ter un­der an um­brella in June 1990 while at­tend­ing the Royal As­cot horse race. A new doc­u­men­tary on the late princess airs in Bri­tain on Sun­day.

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