As the world’s most famous woman, Princess Diana was never short of male attention. Twenty years on from Princess Diana's death, her romances are still one of the most poured over chapters in her short yet spectacular life.
From her horse riding instructor, James Hewitt; royal protection officer, Barry Mannakee; and, of course, billionaire Dodi Fayed, the Princess’s choice in men was as ever changing as it was fascinating. But who did she love the most?
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While many of her close friends have labelled heart surgeon Hasnat Khan — who had a two-year relationship with Diana, which ended in 1997 — the love of her life, her former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe, disagrees.
Her tumultuous relationship with Prince Charles will go down in the history books, but despite their divorce, Diana had a lot of love for her husband.
“The one love of Diana’s life was her husband. She genuinely did love him,” Ken tells Now To Love in an exclusive interview. “Unfortunately, he loved somebody else — that was the problem,” Ken added of Charles' affair with now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles.
Ken, who was Diana’s personal protection officer from 1987 until 1993, said in a bid to get even with her husband’s romance with Camilla, the princess turned to her horse riding teacher, James Hewitt. “I’m convinced it was a protest vote on Diana’s part. In that [she thought], 'Well if you can do it, so can I,’” Ken told us of their five-year affair.
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However, Ken reveals Diana’s affair with James was not as intense as it was made out to be. “I think he did bring some happiness into that relationship, but it wasn’t a full-on relationship where they saw each other every weekend,” he explained. “I think quite frankly, within a year, she’d be lucky if she saw Hewitt maybe five or six times, because it wasn’t possible.”
Sadly, Diana’s attempts to make her husband jealous with James Hewitt failed to rouse much of a reaction. “I suspect that it didn’t particularly bother Prince Charles that much. It bothered Diana [about Camilla] a great deal because she loved Charles,” the 68-year-old said.
Most recently, Diana’s liaison with her bodyguard before Ken, Barry Mannakee, came to light in the explosive Channel 4 documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words.
Shedding light on the nature of their romance, Ken says Barry was more of a shoulder to cry on for Diana, as opposed to a sexual partner. "One thing's for certain, Diana did not have a sexual relationship with Mannakee. I think Mannakee was a shoulder to cry on, and I think that all of us — both male and female — working with the princess were all potential shoulders to cry on. That was her style," Ken shared.
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Within the palace walls, staff would vie for their own special friendships with the royals, and when Barry charmed his way into Diana's inner circle, his colleagues weren't impressed. "In Mannakee's case, once you start sitting in royal quarters, then you upset other members of staff — like butlers and dressers and chefs — who want their share of the princess. They see another member of staff taking potentially their share; this sends the gossip machine into overdrive."
"It’s incredibly competitive, and what happens, of course, [is that] these meetings and discussions that Mannakee had with Diana in her private room eventually got back to the prince. Barry was soon relieved of his position," Ken said.
So, what would Diana make of the fact that Prince Charles ended up with the woman she used to refer to as “The Rottweiler?”
Ken believes things would have played out very differently if the Princess of Wales didn’t die. “One has to ask the question — Had Diana been alive today, would Charles have married Camilla? I suspect that he probably wouldn’t [have]. It would have made life quite difficult for him, in a sense,” he claimed.
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The former bodyguard also alleged in the early days of his affair, Charles worked overtime to dispel whispers of any infidelity on his behalf. “Charles and his PR machinery publicly used friends to say look, ‘No, no. There’s nothing going on with Camilla. Diana’s mad, therefore she’s paranoid.’ Then, of course, to marry Camilla, it would have blown his defense out of the water,” Ken shared.
“Because Diana died, what I always found interesting —not immediately, of course, but very soon after — Camilla did marry the Prince of Wales, and we are lead to believe today that they lived happily ever after. Public opinion is still out on this. While attempts have been made to popularize and bring Camilla into the fold, I think, in part, it may have worked, but you only need an anniversary of Diana to change events," he noted.
Had Diana never gone on that ill-fated trip to Pairs, she would be 56 and the proud grandmother to Prince George and Princess Charlotte. But what would her relationship with her ex-husband be like?
"I think like all of us in a relationship, one gets bruised in a troubled marriage. There is normally a healing process — it does begin. The heartaches of it all tends to drift away, and one tends to live with it," Ken mused.
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Ken believes the pair would have eventually developed a civil rapport for the sake of their sons. "She was a humane individual. She didn’t actually enjoy being angry or hurtful — that wasn’t within her makeup," he said.
"I think that she would have probably lived a life that was less frenetic than it was, but I think certainly she would have been too powerful an individual not to be involved in some charitable expedition somewhere in the world. And who knows, she may well have had a renewed relationship with her ex-husband. Of course, we’ll never know!"
"[Prime Minister] Tony Blair, at the time, and John Major, from the conservative government, allegedly spoke about using her to work in an ambassadorial role. But, of course, that never came to fruition," Ken lamented.
This post was written by Bella Brennan. For more, check out our sister site Now To Love.
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