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Princess Diana, in TV Interview, Vows a ‘Fight to the End’

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

After 15 unhappy years, a dutiful princess whose fairy tale ended in tears took her case to the court of world public opinion on Monday. Diana, Princess of Wales, declared herself a renegade.

In an extraordinary television interview, the estranged 34-year-old wife of Britain’s Prince Charles acknowledged for the first time her affair with a British army officer and told of a married life of such regal misery that it led her to self-mutilation and bulimia.

Vowing to outlast unrelenting media pressure and palace intrigue aimed at discrediting her, Diana said she will fight to maintain her public role and to raise her elder son to be king.

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What’s the problem with Diana? BBC reporter Martin Bashir asked gently.

“She won’t go quietly,” she said. “That’s the problem. She’ll fight to the end. I have a role to fulfill and I’ve got two children to bring up.”

More than 200 million people in more than 100 countries watched the hourlong interview, in which Diana calmly spoke of her husband’s longstanding affair with a married woman.

And she confirmed reports of her own affair with British cavalry officer James Hewitt, who wrote a book in which he described their relationship.

Beginning in 1989--two years after Charles and Diana had begun living separate lives--Hewitt was “a great friend of mine,” she said. “He was always there to support me. I was absolutely devastated when this book appeared.”

“Did your relationship go beyond a close friendship?” the interviewer probed.

“Yes, it did.”

“Were you unfaithful?”

“Yes, I adored him. I was in love with him.”

Married to Charles in 1981, Diana said she was thrust uncomfortably into a popularity contest with her husband in which she was more sought-after.

By 1986, she said, she learned that Charles had resumed an affair with Camilla Parker- Bowles, the wife of an army officer.

“I was aware but not in a position to do anything about it,” Diana said. “There were three of us in the marriage. That made it a bit crowded.”

Unhappiness consumed her, Diana said. She felt lost and alone.

“There’s no better way to dismantle a personality than to isolate it,” she said. Diana said she suffered for years from bulimia, a disease in which compulsive eating is followed by vomiting. At one point she was accused of wasting food by a member of the royal household, whom she did not identify.

The separation was announced Dec. 9, 1992.

“The fairy tale had come to an end. It had a huge effect on me and Charles. I felt a deep, deep, profound sadness. My husband asked for a separation and I supported it. I did not want it,” she said.

Then, Diana said, Charles’ entourage launched a campaign against her.

“My husband’s side worked very hard to discredit me. Letters got lost. Trips abroad were blocked. Life became very difficult for me. It was a campaign waged against me.”

Diana said she gave the interview in an effort to make her views clear.

“The perception that has been given of me has been confusing, turbulent. In some areas people may doubt me. I want to reassure the people that matter to me--the man in the street--that I will never let them down,” she said.

Diana told the interviewer that she does not want a divorce but does not think she will be queen of England.

“I’d like to be queen in people’s hearts. But I don’t see myself as queen of this country. I don’t think many people would want me to be queen. When I say many people, I mean the Establishment that I married into.”

She agreed to the interview, conducted secretly earlier this month, without informing the palace or even her closest aides--an affront to the strict protocol that envelops Britain’s Royal Family. There was no immediate reaction Monday night from Buckingham Palace.

British tabloids, always hungry for news of the royals and often more lurid than accurate, described Charles as outraged.

“The prince is absolutely shattered,” said the Daily Express of Britain’s future king.

When the interview ended, electricity demand surged nationwide as viewers switched on lights and turned on their kettles for a cup of tea. Usage rose 1,000 megawatts; when Prince Charles bared his soul in a television interview 18 months ago, demand rose 700 megawatts.


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