It’s the book that still haunts the royal family to this day and to mark the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, Andrew Morton has decided to re-release his ground-breaking body of work, Diana, Her True Story – In Her Own Words.
Billed as the closest thing we’ll ever get to a Princess Diana biography, in a new interview with 60 Minutes the British journalist has revealed the extreme lengths he and Diana went to in order to bring the book to life.
In a covert operation, Morton teamed up with Diana’s trusted friend and doctor James Colthurst.
Acting as a conduit between Diana and Andrew, James would meet the royal for lunch at Kensington Palace on a regular basis, all the while recording the mother-of-two as she willingly poured her heart out on everything from Charles’ affair with Camilla, her relationship with The Queen and her battle with bulimia.
“The tape visits were lunch. I’d cycle in, the recorder was in the briefcase - nothing surprising there - I’d go in and we’d normally sit down and have a few questions [from Morton] before lunch.”
“After lunch and during coffee I’d clip the microphone on again and she’d finish them off,” Colthurst explained during his interview with 60 Minutes reporter Liz Hayes.
Adding: “She was enormously enthusiastic to have her story out there, she knew exactly what she was doing.”
Their mission was no mean feat and with prying eyes around the palace, Diana and James had to have their wits about them.
“There were always people there curious to know what was going on. [I was asked] ]was there a particular reason for lunch today?’ and I said ‘yep I'm hungry.’”
The pair also used a coded phone scrambler so they could safely record their conversations.
“I had one and Diana had the other one, she'd put it over the phone like this. That's encrypted between the two. It's really primitive technology for now days but at the time, it worked very well," Colthurst said.
When the book was first released in 1992, Morton refused to name his source. But now years later, and with the leaked tapes coming to light, we now know Diana was the mastermind behind the whole publication.
When the celebrity biographer first listened to her heartfelt confessions, he was blown away by what he was hearing – and was on high alert.
“From the very moment that I heard that first tape… I was looking over my shoulder and being very watchful and very careful,” the writer told 60 Minutes.
“It was the most incredible outburst of really inner most pain rage frustration anger, you were swept away with it. It was very compelling.”
RELATED VIDEO: Listen to one of the secret tapes as Diana reflects on the moment she confronted Camilla. Post continues after the video...
But what pained Morton most was just how much Diana was suffering.
“She cut herself with razor blades. She cut herself with a lemon zest or a lemon squeezer," he said.
"She did the most ridiculous things to get attention. She was obviously really disturbed. There’s no question of that and she admits herself that she was disturbed. She needed help. She needed comfort and she was totally isolated.”
As he sifted through hours worth of tapes, Morton unearthed a secret crush Diana had on Household Cavalry major, David Waterhouse, in the late '80s.
“One of the stories that intrigued me - I mean, really I hadn’t listened to properly - was that there was another man that’s involved in her life," Morton mused.
"In helping shall we say the restoration of her psyche, and this is a guy called David Waterhouse. He went skiing with her, hosted her at various parties and so on."
However his true intentions soon were apparent.
"And she was quite smitten by him for a time until they went to a David Bowie concert and he loved all the publicity and she thought ‘hang on’ you know, he’s enjoying it too much."
The book was first released in 1992 and at the time, caused so much scandal some members of parliament called for Morton to be locked up in the Tower of London.
Two decades later and Morton says he has no regrets about writing it.
"I've often wondered, would I have done it again? I think honestly the consequences of not doing it were going to be too tough I think."
"I think she's forced the royal family to re-evaluate their position in society. We look at the monarchy in a different way now than we did in Diana's day."
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
- Fashion TrendsThe chic and comfortable clothes your weekend wardrobe needs
Australian Women's WeeklyToday 11:36am