If 1992 was Queen Elizabeth II’s “horrible year,” as she’s called it, we’d like to know what kind of word she has to describe Prince William and Prince Harry’s year in 1994, 1995, or 1997. In new royal tell-all book Battle of Brothers: William, Harry, and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, British historian Robert Lacey details the brothers’ childhood and notes their parents’ separation as something of a relief, or at least a respite from the conflict between Prince Charles and then-wife Princess Diana. What was not a relief, however, was the onslaught of personal detail that soon came out about their parents’ marital troubles and affairs with others — Charles with now-wife Camilla (née Shand) and Diana with military officer James Hewitt. Lacey describes in new detail the particular betrayal felt by young William when his mother discussed her affair in a 1995 TV interview, having truly believed his mother wouldn’t do this to him after having seen the humiliation he suffered after Charles’ affair came out. His mother’s decision to clear her name anyway felt impossible for William, then 13, to understand.
William was only 10 years old when his father’s affair came to light by way of a series of graphic audio tapes of Charles and Camilla discussing their intentions in lurid detail. Despite his youth, he went to mom Diana to demand answers — which Diana famously provided without delay — and confide in her about his distress, particularly when Charles went on TV and confirmed the affair for himself. So, in 1995, when Diana did the same about her affair with James Hewitt, William felt doubly betrayed.
“Diana spoke of ‘betrayal,’ and that was exactly what William now felt,” Lacey writes. “Their mother had clearly seen how upset both her sons had been when Charles had confessed his intimacy with Camilla on television the previous year. Here she was doing the very same thing, and even talking about her ‘love’ for this other man.”
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William’s next reaction was one of pure emotion. When he saw his mother next after having “viewed the entire program in the study of his Eton housemaster, Dr. Andrew Gailey,” he lashed out.
“William had been ‘so angry with her,'” Lacey recounts, per Diana’s friend and healer Simone Simmons, in whom she confided. “‘All hell broke loose. He was furious … that she had spoken badly of his father, furious that she had mentioned Hewitt…He started shouting and crying and, when she tried to put her arms around him, he shoved her away.”
To provide some context for Diana’s 1995 interview and Wiliam’s reaction, we have to remember 1992, when tapes of Charles and Camilla first came out. Personal embarrassment aside, this went over terribly with the general public, author Lacey notes.
“‘Have you no shame?’ shouted one man in a crowd that actually booed the prince when he next appeared in public,” Battle of Brothers recounts. “Opinion polls showed that disapproval of Charles had doubled in the past two months, with 37 per cent of respondents to a Daily Express ICM poll saying that he ‘should not succeed if the Queen dies tomorrow.’ Seven out of ten of those polled agreed that the Camillagate tapes had caused ‘great damage to the monarchy’, and 64 per cent felt ‘let down’ by the prince.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 15, 2020
Can you imagine dealing with that degree of national shame being leveled at your family? At 13, and no doubt teased mercilessly by classmates, William certainly couldn’t. And sadly for him and Harry both, the worst they had to endure was still to come.
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