The Royal Family faced a terrible trauma in 1997 when Charles’ ex-wife, Diana, died from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris. Charles was with both of their sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, at the time, in the royal estate of Balmoral. The unexpected tragedy meant there was little royal protocol for such an event.
Consequently, Charles and the Queen were soon at each other’s necks about how to publicly handle Diana’s death — while accommodating their family’s own grief, an expert has claimed.
Diana and Charles had divorced the previous year, in 1996, meaning she was no longer a working royal.
Yet, her time on the royal frontline had won over the nation’s heart and she had become the most photographed woman in the world.
Her unique position in relation to the Firm amplified the confusion as to how to handle her death.
In his 2007 book, ‘Charles — The man who will be King’, biographer Howard Hodgson claimed “for the first time ever, war broke out” between Charles and the Queen.
He explained: “The Prince revolted against the Queen’s will in the raw emotion that he felt at the Princess’ death, his different reactions to those of his mother to it and what was needed in order to present the Royal Family in the best possible light given the spotlight that this tragedy would throw them under.”
Apparently the two royals then “avoided addressing each other face to face”, and instead sat in their own suite of rooms in Balmoral.
They insisted on speaking to each other through their staff.
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However, the Queen was eventually persuaded to send Charles to see Diana’s body when her private secretary Robert Janvrin challenged her.
The biographer claimed he said: “What would you rather ma’am — that she came back in a Harrods van?”
Another row erupted when Charles was on the return journey from Paris to London.
It is thought to have happened when he discovered that Diana was to be taken to the Fulham mortuary from the airport prior to her official funeral.
According to Mr Hodgson, Charles “exploded” when he heard the news.
He allegedly said: “Who decided that?
“Nobody asked me. Diana is going to the Royal Chapel at St James’ Palace. Sort it. I don’t care who has made the decision, she is going to the Royal Chapel.”
She was then taken to the Royal Chapel at his insistence.
However, Diana was not entitled to a state funeral after her divorce and the Queen initially wanted to grant Diana a much more minimalist service, half-open to the public, at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the expert claimed.
With the eventual support of then Prime Minister Tony Blair, Charles allegedly managed to persuade his mother to upgrade the occasion.
Mr Hodgson said: “The funeral she got — the cortege, the pageantry, Westminster Abbey and a semi-start occasion watched by millions around the world — was the doing of Prince Charles.”
Diana’s funeral was attended by 2,000 people in Westminster Abbey with approximately 32million watching the televised service in the UK.
‘Charles — The man who will be King’ by Howard Hodgson, was published by John Blake in 2007 and is available here.