Secretly recorded tapes reveal that Princess Diana’s struggle with an eating disorder began when Prince Charles called her “chubby.”
A biography of the royal, “Diana: Her True Story – in Her Own Words,” is being republished with a new forward note by author Andrew Morton in honor of the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death this August. The source for the book was the princess herself, who would record stories on tapes and send them to Morton. One of those stories explained the beginning of her battle with bulimia.
“The bulimia started the week after we got engaged,” Diana recorded herself saying in regard to the illness that would take her nearly a decade to overcome. “My husband put his hand on my waistline and said: ‘Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’ and that triggered off something in me. And the Camilla thing.”
Prince Charles famously had an affair with Camilla Bowles, who was also married at the time, during his marriage to Princess Diana. The scandal, in addition to the prince’s less than sensitive words, was clearly a lot for the princess, who was only 19 years old at the time, to handle.
“I was desperate, desperate. I remember the first time I made myself sick. I was so thrilled because I thought this was the release of tension,” she continued. “The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29 inches around the waist. The day I got married, I was 23½ inches. I had shrunk into nothing from February to July. I had shrunk to nothing.”
Morton believes Princess Diana’s weight loss before the wedding was mostly generated by nerves but that Prince Charles’ comment about her being “chubby” did really trigger the eating disorder. At the time, Morton wrote that perhaps the pain she experienced came with one benefit.
“Having suffered much, she is now able to empathize with those who suffer far more,” he said. “Whatever happens to her personally, it must be heartening for her to know that thousands of women have gone for help as a result of the publicity.”