Princess Diana ‘never conquered’ bulimia says Paul Burrell
The Crown season four heavily features Diana’s struggle with mental health, in particular her eating disorder. Bulimia is characterised by ‘binging’ lots of food, before ‘purging’ by throwing it up. It’s portrayal in the Netflix drama proved somewhat controversial, with some arguing that it raised awareness, with others claiming its use was gratuitous.
The Princess of Wales spoke openly about her struggles with bulimia, both in tapes she sent to Andrew Morton when he was writing his 1992 book ‘Diana: Her True Story’ and during her 1995 interview with BBC Panorama.
In the recordings she sent to Mr Morton, she explained that it all started just a week after they got engaged and would take nearly a decade to overcome.
She even admitted it was a remark from Charles that initially triggered her behaviour.
Princess Diana recalled: “My husband put his hand on my waistline and said: ‘Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?
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Princess Diana revealed her bulimia was triggered by a comment from Prince Charles
Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in The Crown
“And that triggered off something in me. And the Camilla thing.”
Diana was here referring to the Prince of Wales’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, which Diana became aware of even before they got married when she found out Charles had made a bracelet for his lover.
She said: “I was desperate, desperate. I remember the first time I made myself sick.
“I was so thrilled because I thought this was the release of tension.”
Princess Diana opened up about her bulimia in her 1995 interview with Martin Bashir
She explained how she dangerously lost a lot of weight very quickly between the beginning of the engagement and the wedding day.
Diana said: “The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29 inches around the waist.
“The day I got married, I was 23 ½ inches. I had shrunk into nothing from February to July, I had shrunk to nothing.”
Mr Morton noted, while Diana suffered a lot due to her illness, it meant that she was able to empathise with people going through the same thing.
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Prince Charles apparently called Diana “chubby”
He added: “Whatever happens to her personally, it must be heartening for her to know that thousands of women have gone for help as a result of the publicity.”
In her 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, Diana raised a similar sentiment when talking about her self-harm.
She revealed she had suffered postpartum depression after giving birth to William and used to hurt her arms and legs as a result.
While it was destructive for her personally at the time, she explained her experience means she can relate to people she sees going through the same thing in her work.
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She said: “I hurt my arms and my legs and I work in environments now where I see women doing similar things and I am able to understand completely where they’re coming from.”
Diana said she also never sought help for her mental health issues because she was “ashamed”.
She said: “You have to know that when you have bulimia you’re very ashamed of yourself and you hate yourself, and people think you’re wasting food, so you don’t discuss it with people.”
When asked whether anyone had ever suggested she was wasting food and she said they had.
The Princess said people made comments like: “Well, I suppose you’re going to waste that food later on.”
However, she did not specify who made these comments.
For help and support about eating disorders contact Beat on 0808 801677 or email [email protected].