World News

Princess Diana’s former secretary speaks out ahead of coronation

GETTY_5223_PrincessDiSec
Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images/Fred Lee

(LONDON) — Princess Diana’s former secretary Patrick Jephson is speaking out ahead of the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.

Jephson, who was Diana’s personal secretary for eight years, penned an essay that was published in Britain’s The Daily Mail last Friday, discussing the shadow and legacy left behind after the late Princess of Wales’ unexpected death in 1997.

In the essay, Jephson said he first met the king in 1980 while serving in the Royal Navy and then again several years later when he served as Diana’s military aide.

“I was touched that [Charles] cared so much about the young future Queen [Diana] to check for himself that I would probably do an OK job,” Jephson recalled. “This was a different prince — friendly enough but all business and visibly preoccupied with something doubtless far more important than me.”

Jephson’s writings stand in contrast to the efforts Buckingham Palace is making to solidify Camilla’s position as queen.

The former secretary wrote that while Diana “took a path that led only to a mirage of freedom and ultimate tragedy,” Charles’ main objective was “the transformation of Camilla Parker Bowles from guilty secret into the anointed Queen of the United Kingdom.”

According to ABC News royals contributor Robert Jobson, “If Diana was alive today and the marriage would have been successful, this would be a major television event because Diana, at the age of 61, 62, would still be this incredibly glamorous Jackie O. figure. If Diana was being crowned as well, everybody in the world would be watching.”

When news of Charles and Camilla’s affair broke in the late 1980s, it rocked the monarchy. The couple was very unpopular at first.

But since then “an honest account of her extraordinary ascent would acknowledge that Camilla’s actual status in the King’s past and in the country’s future was cloaked behind a long succession of creative palace statements,” Jephson wrote.

Charles and Camilla married in 2005 and their public images have been carefully rehabilitated over time. The late Queen Elizabeth II even gave her blessing that Camilla be named the queen consort upon Charles’ succession to the British throne.

Jephson, however, notes that not everyone is on board with the idea of Camilla as queen.

“Yet for many loyal monarchists, all this rejoicing — with its tinge of triumphalism — may still feel slightly unsettling. A romance that conquers everything in its path is bound to stir some misgivings,” Jephson wrote.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.