Prince William first met Camilla Parker Bowles nine days before his sixteenth birthday. It was less than a year after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and less than two years after his parents officially divorced. Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall and wife of Prince Charles, was at that time, in 1998, reported to have been close to Charles for 25 years.
Now a new documentary claims Prince William felt “used” by Prince Charles during that period of time. The documentary, Reinventing the Royals, was to air on BBC2 this Sunday but has been temporarily pulled by the network. The Telegraph reports that while the BBC claimed the schedule change was to resolve archive footage, a Radio Times article says lawyers representing senior members of the royal family stepped in to halt the program.
The documentary chronicles the efforts by the royal family to remake its image in the wake of Diana’s death. Spin doctor Mark Bolland attempted to portray Prince Charles as a loving single father to his and Diana’s two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Charles’ image had suffered badly during his marriage to Diana, according to Sandy Henney, who was Prince Charles’ press secretary at the time of Diana’s death.
“I think he was pretty hurt. If you’ve got a middle-aged balding man and a beautiful princess, it’s a no-brainer as to who is going to get the media coverage.”
It was that first meeting with Parker Bowles that left Prince William feeling “used to further his father’s interests,” in the words of the documentary’s presenter, Steve Hewlett. The meeting was leaked to the press. That fact was pivotal for William, who valued his privacy in the face of media scrutiny. Ms. Henney said Prince William wanted to know why the story ended up in the papers.
“He (William) was understandably really upset because it was private. And apart from being angry and upset that this had got out, he wanted to know how it had happened.”
Hewlett wrote in an article to accompany the documentary that although news of the meeting between William and Camilla was leaked by accident, details were provided to the Sun by Prince Charles’ spin doctor Mark Bolland. Bolland denies he provided any information.
Tom Bradby was also interviewed for the documentary. The former royal correspondent said Princes William and Harry have remained upset with the media since the loss of their mother.
“‘William and Harry were very angry. They thought that the media had hounded their mother to death. I don’t mean they vaguely thought that — they actually thought that’s what had happened.”
Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting their second child in the spring. The New York Times reports that the Reinventing the Royals documentary has been postponed for “an indefinite period” by the BBC.
[Image via Pop Sugar]