James Gilbey was ‘the husband Diana wanted Charles to be’, royal expert claims, as the pair’s ‘Squidygate’ phone-call revealed ‘the Princess’s deep loneliness’
- Royal expert Emily Andrews spoke about the marriage on Channel 5 programme
- READ MORE: The Crown recreates one of the last ever photos of Princess Diana on Mohamed Al-Fayed’s yacht
James Gilbey was ‘the husband Princess Diana wanted Charles to be’, a royal expert has said.
Journalist Emily Andrews said the late royal’s friend ‘acts as her confidant’ in a famously leaked intimate phone-call between the pair – notoriously known at the ‘Squidygate’ recordings, which were leaked to the Sun in the 1990s.
Speaking Channel 5’s Secrets of The Royal Palaces, which airs tonight, she and other commentators remarked how the tape ‘revealed the Princess’s deep loneliness’ and gave a ‘shocking’ insight into her marriage to the then Prince of Wales, Charles.
The tender conversation happened on New Year’s Eve 1989, while Diana was staying with the Queen at Sandringham.
Mr Gilbey addressed the Princess as ‘Squidgy’ and kept saying ‘I love you’, while she told him he made her go ‘all jellybags’.
James Gilbey (pictured in 1989) was ‘like the husband Princess Diana wanted Charles to be’, a royal expert has suggested
Diana’s long-time friend Mr Gilbey was then a 35-year-old marketing manager for Team Lotus.
At the time, Emily explained, Diana and Charles’s relationship was ‘in tatters behind the scenes’.
‘Diana was like a caged bird trapped in Sandringham,’ she told the programme. ‘And when we get to New Year’s Eve of 1989, there she is, actually all alone in her room – except she wasn’t. She had a telephone.’
The recording – which was overheard by radio amateurs including Jane Norgrove and Cyril Reenan – was a ‘shocking’ revelation.
Emily recalled how it laid bare the troubles between Charles and Diana.
‘The wife of the heir to the throne being intimate over the telephone in a royal palace with someone who wasn’t her husband,’ she remarked.
‘He acts almost like the husband that she wanted Charles to be. He acts as her confidant.’
Writer Wesley Kerr also told the programme that Mr Gilbey offered the Princess a much-needed ally during a period of loneliness.
‘We know now that Diana found that very very difficult, these Christmases at Sandringham,’ he said.
At the time, Emily explained, Diana and Charles’s relationship was ‘in tatters behind the scenes’. Both pictured in 1987
Broadcaster and journalist Emily Andrews (pictured) said the late royal’s friend ‘acts as her confidant’ in a famously leaked intimate phone-call between the pair
Richard Kay, pictured, told the programme that Mr Gilbey’s call showed the Princess’s ‘loneliness’
‘Even though she was with her boys, but they were really torture for her.
‘James Gilbey is an old friend and he’s… a shoulder to cry on, somebody to talk to. Handsome young fellow.’
‘The the precise nature of that relationship cannot be said because neither of them have ever spoken about it,’ the Daily Mail’s Editor At Large Richard Kay also said.
‘It’s sad because it reveals the Princess’s deep loneliness, her unhappiness. This apparently perfect marriage was imperfect in every possible way.’
The reporters recounted that the tape was sent to the newspapers one or two years before it made the front page of The Sun.
‘As a former royal Sun correspondent myself, you would literally think all your Christmases and New Years had come at once,’ Emily said. ‘It would’ve been a scoop of the decade. Amazing story.’
However – ‘there was a real fear with upsetting the family’.
The Sun had, alongside releasing a transcript of the tape, also set up a premium phone line – which cost 36p a minute – where you could listen to the tape on a loop. Pictured left, Mr Gilbey, and right, Diana
The tender conversation happened on New Year’s Eve 1989, while Diana was staying with the Queen at Sandringham. Diana and Sarah Ferguson pictured at a Christmas Day service in 1989
Speaking Channel 5 ‘s Secrets of The Royal Palaces, the latest series of which airs on Saturday at 8.30pm, commentators remarked how the tape ‘revealed the Princess’s deep loneliness’. Charles and Diana pictured in 1987
‘I think with any major, major scoop, any tabloid newspaper is worried about being first,’ she said. ‘Yes they want to be first, but being first also carries huge risk.’
‘I received my copy in 1991,’ Richard added. ‘Plain brown envelope, no forwarding address, no letter, just a tape.
‘Because of the uncertainty about it, because nobody wanted to be responsible for breaking up what was known as the fairytale marriage, I think media companies hands were stayed and no one did it.
‘So the tape was knocking around for a year, two years maybe, before it actually came out.’
The Sun had, alongside releasing a transcript of the tape, also set up a premium phone line – which cost 36p a minute – where you could listen to the tape on a loop.
‘Knowing Diana as I did I’m sure she was probably one of the first to phone in and listen to it,’ the Princess’s former bodyguard Ken Wharfe told the show.
‘Why not? Why would you not do it?’
He explained that the late royal was also keen for any proof to show that she was being monitored.
‘All the things Diana was looking for was evidence to say “look, I’m not wrong here”,’ he added.
‘So yeah of course she would’ve listened to it and would’ve laughed about it and thought “well, you know, that’s what I’m telling you.”‘
Ken also remarked that Diana wasn’t worried about Charles in the aftermath, but rather, her mother-in-law.
‘I remember being back at Kensington Palace soon thereafter in the sort of fallout from that because of her sense of duty to Her Majesty the Queen,’ he said.
‘I think she was always concerned about what she might think – she certainly wasn’t concerned about what her husband might think.’
‘The timing couldn’t have been worse for Diana because she was on holiday with the rest of the royal family at Balmoral [in 1992],’ Emily added.
This week’s episode of Secrets of The Royal Palaces also looks at the time the late Queen spent with Prince Phillip at Villa Guardamangia on Malta, an ‘erotic’ gift which Prince Albert gifted his wife Queen Victoria and the deeply intimate relationship James I had with George Villiers.
Secrets of The Royal Palaces is out on Channel 5, Saturday, 8.30pm
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