Prince Charles Allies Accused of Briefing Against Queen After Diana's Death

Prince Charles' palace allies played an "unpleasant game of one-upmanship" with Queen Elizabeth II's staff in the days after Princess Diana's death, according to a new biography.

Andrew Morton caused a political storm in the 1990s when his book Diana: Her True Story revealed Charles' affair with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, for the first time.

Now he has written a new book, The Queen, which details how courtiers loyal to the Prince of Wales attempted to shield the future king from the public's wrath.

The book quotes an official present with the royals in the week after Diana's death, who reportedly said: "One of the most dangerous things which took place during those fraught days was that the two palaces were totally at odds with each other."

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
Prince Charles and Princess Diana, seen during their official visit to Hungary on May 10, 1990. A royal biography by Andrew Morton suggests Prince Charles' palace allies were leaking information to boost him at Queen Elizabeth II's expense. Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

Morton wrote: "In the early stages, the prince's spin doctors at St James's Palace tried to portray Charles as decisive and democratic while painting all the Queen's men as dithering, delaying and hiding behind precedent and tradition."

He added: "This unedifying conflict would continue long after Diana's burial."

Diana died in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997, and the palace organized her funeral over the following week.

The Queen suggests during this time the British media were fed a "misleading narrative" about the queen being opposed to Diana's body being flown back to Britain "much to the frustration of her advisers."

Journalists, Morton writes, were also told the Princess had been destined for a public mortuary in West London until Charles intervened to ensure she rest at the Chapel Royal, in the grounds of St James' Palace.

Morton wrote: "It seemed that during this traumatic time, certain courtiers allied to Charles were playing an unpleasant game of one-upmanship.

"In reality, both the Queen and her private secretary, Sir Robert Fellowes, had agreed from the very beginning that a plane should be sent to Paris to carry her back to the UK, that she should lie in state at the Chapel Royal, and that there should be a full ceremonial funeral."

He added: "In short, Charles's camp were prepared to throw anyone under the bus in order to protect their man—and that included the Queen and other members of the Royal Family."

Charles is painted as being conscious almost immediately of the reputational damage he might experience due to Diana's death.

The book reads: "When news of Diana's death came through, Charles wept, saying over and over: 'What have we done to deserve this?'

"His first instincts were about how the public would blame him for the tragedy—an assumption that was largely accurate.

"He discussed the issue at length with his lover, Camilla Parker Bowles, who was at her Wiltshire home."

Tensions with Charles's aides were not the only problem for the queen, who the book says was unhappy with one of the most famous tributes to Diana, paid by then U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Queen reads: "In a telling phrase, he proclaimed: 'She was the people's princess.' Though his words were well intentioned, the phrase 'people's princess'—according to some observers—was not entirely welcomed by the Queen. Indeed, it initially led to a degree of strain."

Diana had at the time been stripped of her HRH title, having divorced out of the royal family, though she was still based at Kensington Palace with a private secretary.

Morton's first book about Diana changed history in 1992 and was based on tape recorded confessions the princess smuggled out of the palace via a friend.

It exposed Charles' affair with Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, for the first time, leading ultimately to a collapse in public support for the future king, from which he has never fully recovered.

The revelations also led to Charles and Diana separating the same year it was published, before they finally divorced in 1996.

Newsweek has approached representatives of Prince Charles for comment.

The Queen, by Andrew Morton, will be published by Michael O'Mara on May 24.

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