How William met 'the Rottweiler'… and she came out saying: 'I need a drink'
04:07 GMT, 7 May 2012
No royal author has better insight into Prince William than Penny Junor, who has used her unique contacts to write the most definitive ever account of his life in a major new biography. In the second part of our unmissable series, she reveals how hard William found it to warm to the woman his mother always called the Rottweiler . . .
Two months before the death of the Princess of Wales, Prince Charles decided it was time to tell his boys about the woman he loved.
He sat them down together and tried to explain how Camilla Parker Bowles had re-entered his life — after a youthful love affair — and made him deeply happy. When he’d finished speaking, William and Harry were very quiet.
It was clear, Charles confided later to a friend, that William, in particular, just didn’t want to know. For the time being, no more was said.
Stiff: William's relationship with Camilla could often be frosty
In truth, it wasn’t as if William, then 15, didn’t already know more than he’d ever wanted to about the woman who’d rekindled her affair with his father while both were still married.
More than anything else, it was finding out Camilla was back in the picture that had enraged his mother and poisoned the atmosphere at home.
Diana had gone into meltdown — despite the fact that her own infidelities had begun years earlier.
From then on, she and Charles could barely tolerate being in the same room as each other, let alone under the same roof. They saw their own friends, did their own things and lived largely separate lives.
On the occasions they were together, there were blistering rows, tears and hysterics, rage and fury — all heard to some degree by everyone in the house. Kensington Palace was small and badly soundproofed, but not even the stone walls at Highgrove were thick enough to stifle their corrosive exchanges.
For two sensitive young boys, it was a tense and unhappy time. And although Charles never invited Camilla to either of his homes while the boys were there, William, at least, was fully aware of the reason for Diana’s distress.
Indeed, Camilla’s name was never far from Diana’s lips — she called her ‘the Rottweiler’ — and the epithet was frequently accompanied by vitriol or tears. It was a lot for a child to handle.
What William didn’t know for a long time was that Diana’s suspicions were for many years completely unfounded.
They dated back to the early days of her relationship with Charles, when she’d happened to come across a gold bracelet that Charles was planning to send to Camilla.
On it was a blue enamel disc with the initials GF, which stood for Girl Friday — his nickname for Camilla. Diana, however, was convinced the entwined initials stood for Fred and Gladys, the pet names she imagined they called each other.
In fact, the bracelet was one of several pieces of jewellery he’d bought for special friends as a thank you for having looked after him in his bachelor years. And it had never occurred to Charles, who was surprisingly naive in such matters, that Diana might have a problem with a former girlfriend remaining in his circle of friends.
After she made it plain that she did, he simply severed all contact with Camilla. But Diana’s suspicions festered, and years later she persuaded herself that her husband was back with his old flame.
Emotion: William and Harry view floral tributes to their mother
Charles, meanwhile, sank into a terrible depression. Eventually, his old friends grew alarmed, fearing he might be close to thoughts of self-destruction.
It was Patti Palmer-Tomkinson who put him back in touch with Camilla, whose own marriage had long been a sham because of her husband’s infidelities. Camilla, felt Patti, was probably the only person who might be able to restore Charles’s spirits.
As the world discovered in January 1993, she certainly succeeded in doing that. For Charles, publication of the so-called Camillagate tape — a recording of a late-night intimate conversation he’d had with his mistress — was the ultimate humiliation.
It wasn’t so much that the heir to the throne had spoken about wishing always to be with the woman he adored. What provoked raucous reaction was that he mused about turning into a tampon to achieve this.
Even Diana, while enjoying a little schadenfreude, was embarrassed on his behalf. And Charles’s greatest fear at the time, he told friends, was not just for William and Harry, but also for Camilla’s children, Tom and Laura, who were a few years older.
There were blistering rows, tears and hysterics
He was right to be concerned. With every episode in the publicly disintegrating marriage of his parents, William was becoming less bold, confident and cheeky.
In particular, he was deeply affected at the age of 12 by the biography and documentary by Jonathan Dimbleby, in which his father admitted adultery. Yet as the young Prince grew more muted, his brother, still too young to fully understand what was going on, appeared to blossom.
It was becoming clear that William was taking on to his young shoulders the burden of responsibility for his parents’ wellbeing and happiness. But because he loved both his parents, his loyalty and emotions were torn down the middle.
To be asked, on top of all that, to understand his father’s love for Camilla was simply too much. Sensibly, the Prince of Wales allowed the contentious subject to be dropped.
While William’s parents seemed hell-bent on self-destruction, the stability that came from other adults around him may well have prevented him from careering off the rails.
One of these was a ditzy young aristocrat called Alexandra Legge-Bourke, known as Tiggy, whom Charles hired after separating from Diana to act in loco parentis to the boys at Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire, when he had commitments elsewhere.
At 28, Tiggy was a bundle of fun — a cross between a loving, liberal mother and a slightly wild big sister. Unwisely, she said of her royal charges: ‘I give them what they need at this stage: fresh air, a rifle and a horse. She [their mother] gives them a tennis racket and a bucket of popcorn at the movies.’
Tiggy was refreshingly uncomplicated and William and Harry adored her.
She helped them load their ponies into trailers and took them to gymkhanas and polo lessons.
Together, they went rabbit shooting, fishing, climbing, hunting and go-karting.
Close: William and Harry adored nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke picture here with them playing near Balmoral in 1994
Diana, however, felt usurped. She started a rumour that Tiggy and Prince Charles were having an affair, ‘proof’ of which was an innocent kiss on the cheek captured by photographers.
Then the Princess left a series of disturbing messages on Tiggy’s answering machine. Her campaign culminated with Diana allegedly going up to her at the staff Christmas party and whispering: ‘So sorry about the baby.’
As the Princess knew, Tiggy had recently been in hospital for a minor operation — so the implication was that she’d had an abortion. This was untrue and resulted in a lawyer’s letter — but Diana continued to resent Tiggy.
When she discovered that Tiggy had helped Charles with the invitations to William’s confirmation, in March 1997, she went through the roof. If ‘that woman’ was going to be there, she threatened, she wouldn’t be attending herself.
What should have been a joyous and spiritually meaningful occasion for Prince William turned into another family nightmare.
Not only was Tiggy banned from the confirmation, but his grandmother, Frances Shand Kydd, was also absent — because Diana was going through a phase of not speaking to her. In fact, the Princess had been asked to invite 40 people, but invited no one.
William’s love for his mother has never diminished. But even as a teenager, he was not blind to some of her more bizarre behaviour — particularly when it caused evident pain to people he loved.
Now: Prince William with his wife Kate Middleton, who have just celebrated their first anniversary as a married couple
When it came to deciding whom to invite to the Fourth of June, Eton’s equivalent of speech day, he deliberately chose Tiggy — and told his parents that he didn’t want them there. At the end of the day, William went home to find his mother distraught and in tears.
Once her divorce had been settled, however, Diana seemed to enter a new phase and started to rebuild a civilised relationship with her ex-husband.
A month later, after the end of the summer term, she took William and Harry on holiday. She’d been invited by Mohamed Al Fayed, the rich Egyptian owner of Harrods, to spend some time with him and his family in St Tropez.
William wasn’t thrilled. He loathed the paparazzi, and they were likely to be out in force, charting the burgeoning romance between Diana and Al Fayed’s eldest son, Dodi.
Diana was on the rebound. For two years, she’d been having an affair with Hasnat Khan, a Pakistan-born heart surgeon, whom she’d met while visiting a friend at the Royal Brompton Hospital.
She’d made a point of introducing him to William, who never much enjoyed meeting her lovers — though Harry was always more relaxed about it.
According to Diana’s friend Rosa Monckton: ‘She told Prince William in particular more than most mothers would have told their children. But she had no choice.
‘She wanted her sons to hear the truth from her, about her life and the people she was seeing, and what they meant to her, rather than read a distorted, exaggerated and frequently untrue version in the tabloid press.’
That same tabloid press, it must be remembered, to which Diana herself incessantly fed stories.
William and Harry didn’t enjoy their holiday with the Al Fayeds. They hadn’t particularly taken to Dodi; nor did they care much for his glitzy lifestyle. And they hated all the publicity.
Diana and William had a terrible row; Harry got into a spat with Fayed’s youngest son, Omar; and Fayed’s heavies attempted to give brown envelopes stuffed with pound notes to the Princes’ protection officers.
So it was with huge relief that the brothers flew back to spend the remainder of the holidays with their father, their grandparents and other members of the Royal Family in Scotland, while Diana arranged a further break with Dodi.
Less than a month later, both were dead.
The first call alerting the Royal Family to Diana’s accident in Paris came through to Balmoral at one o’clock on the morning of Sunday, August 31, 1997.
Later that day, William and Harry had been due to fly to London and Tiggy had — ‘by the grace of God’, as the Queen said — just arrived to accompany them home.
The holidays were almost over and Diana had arranged to fly back from Paris to spend the last few days with the boys.
It was the Queen who advised Charles not to wake William and Harry when their mother’s death was confirmed. Strangely, though, William woke up many times during that night. He knew, he said later, that something awful was going to happen.
Hard act to follow: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Princes William and Harry on the Loggers Leap ride at Thorpe Park
How the Prince of Wales broke the news to his sons and how they reacted will remain between the three of them, though the memory of it will no doubt haunt him until the day he dies. William said he wanted to go to church ‘to talk to Mummy’.
The country may have been angry at the Queen’s decision to keep her family in Scotland, but those days spent in the peace and solitude of the Highlands were a godsend.
For the next two days, William went for long, long walks alone through acres of heather and wild, craggy moorland as he struggled to take in the enormity of his mother’s death.
Aware that public emotion was building up, along with mountains of flowers and other tributes, Charles asked his press secretary, Sandy Henney, to prepare the boys for the scenes that awaited them on their return.
‘I was going up and down these queues of people,’ she remembers, ‘and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was verging on hatred for this family.’
To William and Harry, however, she put it more gently: ‘Mummy’s death has had the most amazing impact on people,’ she said.
‘They are really sad because they loved her very, very much and they miss her, and when you go down to London you will see something you will never, ever, see again and it may come as a bit of a shock. But everything you will see is because the public thought so much of your mummy.’
Harry asked a few questions, but William was very quiet. Not surprisingly, it was Harry, not William, who later asked to open some of the letters of condolence from the public.
At 15, William was no longer a young boy, but not yet a man; it was a difficult age. He didn’t speak to Sandy about his feelings, and she never saw a tear; he appeared to internalise his grief, just as he’d internalised so much in his life already.
During the years she worked with him, from the ages of 11 to 18, she says he was always more guarded than his brother. ‘I think he has an innate sense of self-protection,’ Sandy says.
‘If you ask him a personal question, he will be as honest as he wants to be, but you will never get down into the real root of William because that’s how he protects himself.’
It was, she confirms, unquestionably the boys’ decision alone to walk with their father behind their mother’s coffin — though their uncle, Earl Spencer, had wanted to be the sole walker and slammed the phone down on Charles when he said he would be walking too.
At times in Westminster Abbey the music, the poetry and the oratory were too much for William.
Tellingly, despite Earl Spencer’s fierce funeral oration, in which he pledged to protect William and Harry — his ‘blood family’ — the only Spencer relation with whom William has much contact now is his aunt, Lady Sarah McCorquodale.
'The Rottweiler': The name given to Camilla by Diana before her death
After the funeral, Charles took
William and Harry home to Highgrove, where Tiggy helped keep their
spirits up. William, who has the Windsor ability to keep his emotions
hidden, appeared to be remarkably controlled.
school starting just a few days later, he was soon enveloped in
academic and sporting routines. He also visited the Queen weekly at
Windsor Castle, which was just over the bridge from Eton; indeed, he
became particularly close to her during this period.
what probably helped the boys more than anything was having each other.
They are such very good friends that the people who work for them now
find it hard to think of them as separate entities.
closeness owes much to having grown up not knowing whom they could
trust, who would be there next week, and who would be gone. What they
could always be certain of was each other; and from a young age, they’d
come to rely on each other, almost to parent one another.
losing their mother, the bond between them became their lifeline, and
they clung to it. And despite being the younger brother, Harry was as
much a support to William as the other way round.
were also often partners in crime. Once, Charles asked Sandy Henney to
discover if one of them had shot a favourite moorhen. Both were summoned
to the office of William’s Eton housemaster, Dr Gailey.
As Sandy tells the story: ‘They’re looking at each other and saying, “Shot the moorhen Shot the moorhen” Then William turns to Andrew and says: “Which moorhen is that, Dr Gailey”
‘And Harry says: “The one you told me not to shoot!”
‘I said: “Tell Harry he’s got 24 hours,” and bless his heart, he rang his dad and said, “I’m so sorry Papa, it was me — I shouldn’t have done it.” Those boys are so close to each other — the loyalty between them and the mischievousness and sense of honesty . . .’
Harry may be full of mischief, according to a friend of the boys, but he often takes the lead when there are problems to sort out. Once, William grew frustrated at working out a complex seating plan with Charles’s private secretary for a memorial service for his mother.
‘William got very fed up even just thinking about it and finally said to his office: “Right, that’s it. I’m off. You sort it out,” ’ recalls the friend. ‘At the end of the day, it was Harry who sorted it out. He just said: “F*** that,” picked up the phone and said “I want to speak to my father: put him through.”
‘Then he just said: “Right, Dad, you’re sitting here, someone else is sitting there, and the reason we’ve done it is blah and blah. All right Are you happy” “Oh yes,” said Charles, “I suppose so.”
Problem solved. William gets quite buttoned up inside and angry about things and often it’s his brother who makes it happen. He’s the sort of “Can do, f*** that, let’s just sort it out” kind of guy.
The boys did not care for Dodi's glitzy lifestyle
‘William’s quite complicated and Harry’s not at all complicated: he’s one of the most straightforward people I’ve ever met.’
On the other hand, according to Sandy Henney, there was always something about William ‘that meant you couldn’t help but smile when he came into a room because he was always full of fun’.
Sometimes, perhaps too much fun. Colleen Harris, another of the Prince’s former press officers, admits both brothers did many mischievous things — ‘nothing terrible, nothing criminal’ — that never made the papers.
Once or twice, they did, of course: Harry was allegedly seen by News of the World reporters smoking cannabis and drinking under-age in 2002. But, says Colleen referring to both boys: ‘You have no idea what was being covered up. Yes, it was terrible, but it could have been a lot worse.’
When it came to meeting the woman in his father’s life for the first time, William didn’t want to be rushed. But he was also aware that as far as Charles was concerned, Camilla was ‘non-negotiable’.
Charles proceeded more cautiously after Diana’s death. Eight months later, he decided to invite Camilla’s children, Tom and Laura, to stay while he and the boys — and poet Ted Hughes — were at Birkhall in Scotland for the Easter holidays.
The meeting could not have been more successful, and thereafter the children saw each other occasionally, both in the country and in London.
At much the same time, William and Harry began plotting a surprise party for their father’s 50th birthday that November. It started out as a party for the Prince’s godchildren and their parents — and as Tom was Charles’s godson, William realised he’d need to invite Camilla.
It was time to meet her, he decided. Although he’d heard a lot of terrible things about her from his mother, who spared him little, he was beginning to realise that not everything he’d heard was entirely true.
On June 13, he arrived earlier than expected at St James’s Palace, while Camilla was staying for a couple of days with Charles, and went straight up to his flat at the top.
The Prince of Wales told Camilla: ‘He’s here: let’s just get on with it.’
So he took her up to William’s flat, introduced them and left them alone to talk for about half an hour. At the end of the encounter, Camilla came out saying: ‘I need a drink.’
Coming to terms: Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William share a joke during a service of celebration to mark the Diamond wedding anniversary Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Despite the fact that it was less than a year since his mother’s death, William had been friendly and Camilla had been sensitive about his feelings. They met again for lunch a few days later and had tea a couple of times. Occasionally, she’d stay over when he was in London and have breakfast with him.
Even so, Sandy Henney doesn’t believe that first meeting between William and Camilla healed all the wounds. At most, he came away thinking she was not as poisonous as he’d been led to believe.
The boys’ surprise party for Charles was held on the night of July 31. The Prince was moved to tears by his children’s thoughtfulness, but what touched him most was their seating plan: they’d placed Camilla next to him.
To the nation, it may have looked as though all was quickly forgiven and forgotten. But it took many years for William to warm to Camilla.
In February 2001, he agreed to be seen in public for the first time with her at a party. As one of those involved says: ‘Part of the thinking was that in order for the public to approve of Camilla, she had to be seen with the boys or it wouldn’t work.
‘I think the relationship between them all is warm now — but if I’m honest, it wasn’t then. I think they found it hard. I remember Harry being uncomfortable and saying something awkward. It was difficult for them; it was a natural thing. You want your mum — you don’t want her.
‘To be fair to Camilla, she never tried to be Mummy but she was the “other woman” and she was there and taking Daddy’s time. It wasn’t all happy families for quite a long time, but William was happy to see his father happy.’
/05/07/article-2140596-0455C7550000044D-318_634x405.jpg” width=”634″ height=”405″ alt=”Kiss: Prince William kisses Camilla goodbye after The Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in Surrey ” class=”blkBorder” />
Kiss: Prince William kisses Camilla goodbye after The Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in Surrey
Three years later, when the wedding finally went ahead in 2005, William and Harry decided it was time to put their own feelings to one side. Together, they released a statement saying: ‘We are both very happy for our father and Camilla, and we wish them all the luck in the future.’
Just a year on, the boys decided they wanted to stage a spectacular concert, followed by a memorial service, for the tenth anniversary of their mother’s death. Before the six-hour extravaganza at Wembley stadium in 2007, they banned all senior members of the Royal Family from attending — thus avoiding any unnecessary awkwardness for Charles.
‘There’s no doubt that they love their father,’ says a friend, ‘but he’s a complex man and difficult to be the son of sometimes — and his reactions to things aren’t always as elevated as we might want them to be.
‘Anything to do with their mother is really tricky. They’re very careful of Charles’s sensitivities and dance around them a lot.’
Extracted from Prince William: Born To Be King: An Intimate Portrait by Penny Junor, to be published by Hodder & Stoughton on May 10 at 19.99 2012 Penny Junor. To order a copy for 14.99 (inc. P&P), tel: 0843 382 0000.