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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 08:32 GMT
Diana tapes captivate America
By Kevin Anderson
BBC News Online, Washington

Princess Diana
Princess Diana recorded the tapes at Kensington Palace
Americans may have fought to throw off the rule of King George III more than 200 years ago, but they are still fascinated by the intrigues of the British Royal Family.

Royally obsessed Americans were glued to their televisions as the NBC network aired for the first time intimate recorded interviews with Princess Diana.

"This is the story the Royal Family doesn't want you to hear," began the first half of a two-hour, two-part expose.

Told in her own voice, the tapes reveal a deeply unhappy, deeply insecure woman who felt little love or support from her husband Prince Charles.

Doomed from the beginning

Nothing new was revealed in the tapes, which were the basis of Andrew Morton's book, Diana: Her True Story.

But hearing Princess Diana's story in her own voice brought home the anguish she felt to those who watched the programme.

The tapes were recorded by her close friend James Colthurst. He describes a Diana so eager to tell her story that she could barely get a breath in.

The recordings tell the story of a marriage doomed from the beginning.

The Camilla thing - you see, I was desperate, so desperate
Princess Diana

After the official announcement of their engagement, NBC's Jane Pauley said: "As the world became obsessed with the new royal couple, Diana suspected that Charles was obsessed with another woman: Camilla Parker Bowles."

She says she overheard their phone calls. "It just broke my heart."

Diana's bulimia started only the week after she was engaged to Prince Charles.

Diana said anxieties over Camilla drove her into a suicidal depression. On the eve of their wedding, she said, "The Camilla thing - you see, I was desperate, so desperate."

Her doubts only grew on their honeymoon. "I just had tremendous hope in me, which was slashed by day two."

Cold Prince Charles

Princess Diana is portrayed as a deeply insecure woman. "I hated myself so much. I thought that I wasn't good enough for Charles."

The programme paints a very unflattering picture of Prince Charles.

My husband made me feel so inadequate in every possible way, that each time I came up for air he pushed me down again
Princess Diana

Prince Charles is shown at the couple's engagement announcement, describing himself as delighted and happy.

When a reporter adds, "and, of course, in love," Charles adds: "Whatever in love means."

Diana described the Royal Family and a husband who were not only unsupportive, but hurtful.

"My husband made me feel so inadequate in every possible way, that each time I came up for air he pushed me down again," Princess Diana said.

Invasion of privacy

At Nathan's Bar in Washington, patrons took a break from watching sport to hear what Princess Diana had told her confidante.

"The American public lacks a royal family themselves, but there is certainly an attachment there," said one man, explaining the fascination in the US with Princess Diana.

Some debated whether the tapes should have been aired.

"You can't have a private life anymore," one woman complained.

Monument in memory of Diana
One American viewer thought Diana's 'beautiful memory should be left alone'

"But that's the risk of being in the public view," said another woman.

She added, "I remember her as being a great lady." She was so upset by Princess Diana's death that she immediately flew to Paris to see where she had been killed.

She objected to the airing of the tapes, saying: "I think we should leave her beautiful memory alone."

A man named Kevin also thought the tapes should not have been aired.

"She had enough tragedy in her life," he added. "Part of the conflict of her life was that she wasn't honoured with enough privacy."

Outside the bar, another woman said, "Of course the public wants to hear such a thing. They want to hear all the dirt."

And she didn't have a problem with the broadcast of the tapes. "It's private information, but she did make the tapes. That's the media world."

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