Princess Diana’s press secretary Patrick Jephson claimed King Charles’s staff “conducted smear campaigns” about Princess Diana’s mental health. The claims were made in a new podcast called The Scandal Mongers, hosted by royal authors Phil Craig and Andrew Lownie. Mr Jephson claimed that sources close to the now King orchestrated a “systematic” smear campaign against his ex-wife, which made her life “hell”.
He also claimed he was frustrated that it had become “accepted” that Diana struggled mentally, and claimed she showed “extraordinary strength” given the pressure of royal life and media attention following her marriage to Charles in 1981.
Phil Craig, who wrote Diana: Story of a Princess, claimed that these briefings have had a lasting impact on the legacy of the King’s first wife, and added they were the “nastiest” aspect of the War of the Waleses.
Mr Jephson claimed that the campaign went beyond “casual gossip” and was a “systematic campaign”. There is no suggestion that Charles knew about these “campaigns” or evidence to prove them.
He claimed he was “very frustrated” by allegations that Diana was a “bit crazy”.
He claimed: “Considering the life she lived, considering the pressures she was under, she wasn’t just sane, she had a kind of ability to restore sanity to crazy situations.”
He also claimed that Diana, who died aged 36 on August 31, 1997, was aware that her ex-husband’s staff were attempting to “discredit” her in the press, and would use it to her advantage.
Mr Jephson claimed she would bring up her history with eating disorders in speeches at charity events to turn the table on her critics.
He also claimed that those spreading rumours were mostly “men” who hoped to defend Charles by attacking a woman.
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Mr Jephson worked with Princess Diana for eight years and said she was “sane of mind, funny and grounded”.
Phil Craig, in another episode, recounted how Mr Jephson set up a meeting between Diana and Jonathon Dimbleby, who was gearing up to interview the King for a programme that was released in 1994.
Mr Craig claimed: “Diana is absolutely at her best: she’s charming, she’s funny, she’s slightly flirtatious, she’s absolutely on top of her brief, she’s talking very eloquently about politics, and about world leaders.”
He claimed that Dimbleby and Patrick Jephson sat down to talk after the interview, and that the Australian broadcaster told the royal secretary: “If I can’t believe what I have been told about Diana, I can’t believe any of it.”
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Mr Craig claimed he thinks it is “appropriate to say that Prince Charles gaslit Diana”.
He claimed that Diana was “hardened” by the King’s infidelities and the fact staff would “lie” to her about his whereabouts.
“She created this new picture which people bought into, which really wasn’t what happened,” he claimed.
“I do wonder why later on in her life she sort of exaggerated the pain of her own childhood and adolescence. All I can think of is that by the, she was perhaps playing for sympathy.”
Representatives for King Charles have been contacted for comment.