Today is the anniversary of Diana’s birthday, and she would have turned 59 on this day had she not tragically died 23 years ago. Prince Harry is now 35 years old, just months off reaching the same age Diana was when she died. In a heartbreaking confession in 1991, the Princess of Wales pinpointed her second son’s birth in September 1984 as the moment her marriage started to collapse.
She said: “Then, suddenly, as Harry was born, it just went bang, our marriage: the whole thing went down the drain.”
However, she added that the period between William and Harry’s births was also “total darkness”.
These tapes were made in 1991 for royal biographer Andrew Morton in writing his 1992 book entitled ‘Diana: Her True Story’.
They were later released as part of a 2017 documentary entitled ‘Diana: In Her Own Words’ marking the 20th anniversary of her death.
Diana revealed in the tapes how unhappy she was in her marriage: the betrayal she felt at her husband’s infidelity, the loneliness and isolation she felt at Kensington Palace and her struggles with mental illness.
Heartbreakingly, she pinpointed 1984 as the time it really started going downhill, just three years into the marriage.
This is when cracks started to appear in terms of their age gap and how Diana did things differently to other members of the Royal Family.
By 1986, Charles had rekindled his romance with old flame Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall.
Diana, too, had an affair with her riding instructor James Hewitt.
Their relationship continued to deteriorate until by 1992 they were nicknamed “The Glums” on a royal tour and the tension could be cut with a knife. That was the year Diana’s biography was released and, while the Royal Family did not know Diana had herself participated by sending the tapes to Mr Morton, they knew her friends and family had spoken to him and viewed that as tacit agreement.
What’s more, this was the year Charles’ phone conversation with Camilla was hacked and a transcription printed in an Australian newspaper. At first, the British papers held off from publishing, but the scandalous recording made its way around the world and they eventually decided it was untenable to hold off any longer.
In December 1992, it was announced that the Prince and Princess of Wales would separate. However, there was no sign of divorce at first, and indeed it was thought Diana would still be Queen one day. Eventually, though, it is believed the Queen pushed for divorce and it was finalised in 1996, when Diana lost her HRH status, which she was devastated about.
Mr Morton said when he first heard the recordings, Diana sounded like “a prisoner in a cell”. He added: “She was absolutely miserable and she felt she was like a prisoner of the Palace. “She felt she needed to speak out. I put my headphones on, switched on the tape recorder, and out came this cascade of emotion.
“She was speaking like a prisoner in a cell who just had a few minutes to get the story out. “There was talk of her misery, of her unhappiness.
“It was totally, utterly shocking. I felt like I’d entered a parallel universe.”