Excerpt: Tina Brown's Princess Di Appreciation

When Barry Mannakee became her bodyguard in 1985, the Princess was at her most vulnerable, still trying to live within the chafing confines of her marriage but increasingly unwilling to give up on her need for love. She was already familiar with him as a backup cop. He was dark and handsome in a blokey way, with a nice helping of spontaneous warmth. The Princess relied heavily on his reassurance before public events.

On the videotapes recorded by Peter Settelen in the early 1990's, Diana talks about her warm feelings for her protection officer but stops short of confirming that theirs had been a physical relationship. She admits to dreaming of "giving all this up just to go off and live with him," calls him "one of the biggest crutches of my life," and laments, a little mysteriously, "I should never have played with fire, and I did." Diana often said things like that, for effect, but I have become convinced that Mannakee was indeed Diana's first extramarital affair.

The Princess's neediness, fueled by secrecy and danger, was too insistent, too naked, and too fragile to be denied, and yet the consequences for Sergeant Mannakee, personal protection officer, were potentially career ending. On the eve of Sarah Ferguson's marriage to Prince Andrew on July 23, 1986, the inevitable happened. Mannakee and Diana were allegedly discovered in a compromising position. During the next day's ceremony, Andrew Morton watched Diana closely from the press gallery at Westminster Abbey. He noted that she seemed uncharacteristically distracted during the wedding of her then best friend. Immediately after the incident, Mannakee was drafted out of royal service into the Diplomatic Protection Squad. Nine months later, he was dead. The Princess never lost her belief that Barry Mannakee was murdered. "I think he was bumped off," she told Settelen.

©2007  from the book The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown.

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