A twist of events. Princess Diana cheated on Prince Charles before his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, according to a royal officer.
Allan Peters, a personal protection officer who worked with the Prince of Wales for nine years, told CNN’s new docuseries, Diana, that the Princess of Wales had a romance with her bodyguard, Barry Mannakee, months before Charles’ affair with Camilla. “The popular perception is that the Prince of Wales was straying all the way through his marriage and that is definitely, unequivocally not the case,” Peters said in the docuseries, according to Newsweek.
He continued, “The first person that strayed was the princess. He went back to see Mrs. Parker-Bowles after he learned about her affair with Mannakee. Nobody is the villain. In my view, everyone is the victim. He was under a lot of pressure to get married and she too was the victim of this whole process.”
The docuseries included private speech coaching tapes with Diana, where she said she “fell deeply in love with Mannakee when she was “24 or 25.” Diana and Charles married on July 29, 1981. She turned 24 on July 1, 1985, a year before her affair with her bodyguard was discovered. “I’ll tell you one of the biggest crushes of my life, which I don’t find easy to discuss,” Diana told her speech coach, Peter Settelen, in the tapes. “When I was 24 or 25 I fell deeply in love with someone who worked in this environment. And he was the greatest friend I ever had. “I was always wandering around trying to see him. I just, you know, wore my heart on my sleeve and was only happy when he was around and the rest of it.”
She continued, “Yeah, I supposed you could say I did, yes (see him as father figure). I’m sure I did. I was like a little girl in front of him the whole time.”
The docuseries reported that Diana told Settelen that she knew that Charles—who first dated Camilla in 1970—had gone back to his ex five years after their wedding, which would be 1986, though Diana suspected their affair earlier than that. “My father-in-law said to my husband, ‘Uh, if your marriage doesn’t work out you can always go back to her after five years,’ which is exactly, I mean for real I know that it happened after five, I knew something was happening before that,” Diana told Settelen in tapes.
According to the docuseries, Mannakee was let go of his job as Diana’s bodyguard in 1986 once their affair was discovered. He died in a car crash months later in 1987 while riding pillion on the back of a motorcyle. The death was ruled an accident, but Diana believed at the times he may have been “bumped off.” “Charles said to me, ‘He was killed in a motorbike accident’ and that was the biggest blow of my life I must say. It was a killer,” she said in the tapes. And Charles, though he knew but he never had any proof, and he just jumped it on me like that and I wasn’t able to do anything. I just sat there all day going through this huge high-profile visit to Cannes, just devastated. “I think he was bumped off. But, there we are. We’ll never know. I should never have played with fire and I did. I got very burned.”
In the docuseries, Peters recalled a time he confronted Diana about her romance with Mannakee, where she admitted that she was in love with him. “Barry Mannakee was a protection officer in our team and I started to notice her behavior was unusual when we were anywhere near Barry Mannakee, which was certainly indicating that something may have happened between them so I decided to talk to her about it,” Peters said.
He continued, “For the first 20 minutes she absolutely categorically denied it but then she told me exactly what was going on. She was having some sort of relationship with Mannakee. My main thing was to try and persuade her how dangerous and impossible it would be for her to remain with the boys. It was just lunacy.”
According to Peters, Diana was told that Mannakee was removed from his position as her bodyguard because the hours of the job were too much for his personal life, an excuse Diana didn’t buy. “They went on a joint engagement and she was clearly very upset,” Peters said. Peters also revealed that Prince Charles asked him why Diana was upset after Mannakee was moved from her personal protection.
“The Prince of Wales approached me and said ‘why is the princess behaving in the way she is? What on earth is the matter,’” Peters recalled. “So I said ‘you’ve got to talk to her.’ And He said ‘well, I’ve tried all that and the only thing that seems to be upsetting her is that Barry Mannakee is going back to uniform and if she’s that upset Barry can stay.’ “At that stage, I was forced to say, ‘well, sir, if he stays then I’m afraid I’ll have to leave.’”
Peters claimed that it was during that conversation that Charles realized Diana’s feelings for Mannakee. “And I think at that point the penny dropped. He was utterly shocked and was clearly, clearly very upset,” he said.
For more about Princess Diana, read Andrew Morton’s biography, Diana: Her True Story — In Her Words. The New York Times bestseller, which was first published in 1992, is the only authorized biography about Princess Diana. The book, which Diana collaborated on, includes raw and unfiltered quotes from the Princess of Wales about her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, her relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, her life in the House of Windsor, and her hopes, dreams and fears for her children, Prince William and Prince Harry, before her death in 1997. The biography, which has been described as the “closest we will ever come” to a Princess Diana autobiography, was republished with new material in 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the People’s Princess’ death.
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