Britain’s Prince Harry in his newly published memoirs, Spare describes how he got his private secretary to obtain police files on the Paris auto crash that led to the death of his mother, Diana Spencer, and before her divorce, Diana, Princess of Wales.
In the book, which was published against the wishes of the British monarchy, Prince Harry expresses a constant dislike for the media, who he blames for hounding his mother to her death and also embarking on a campaign of calumny against his wife, Meghan Markle.
Describing how he got the police files, Harry said, “He was to be our new private secretary: Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton was his name. But I don’t remember Willy and me referring to him as anything other than JLP.
“We should’ve just called him Marko II. Or maybe Marko 2.0. He was meant to be Marko’s replacement, but also a more official, more detailed, more permanent version of our dear friend.”
He said all the things Marko had been doing informally, the minding and guiding and advising, JLP would now do formally, we were told.
“In fact, it was Marko who’d found JLP, and recommended him to Pa, and then trained him. So we already trusted the man, right from the start. He came with that all- important seal of approval. Marko said he was a good man.
“Despite his spit and polish, however, his enamelled exterior, JLP was a force, the product of Britain’s finest military training, which meant, among other things, that he didn’t deal in bullshit. He didn’t give it, didn’t take it, and everyone, far and wide, seemed to know.
“To me, JLP’s finest trait was his reverence for truth, his expertise in truth. He was the opposite of so many people in government and working in the Palace. So, not long after he started working for Willy and me, I asked him to get me some truth—in the form of the secret police files on Mummy’s crash.”
The private secretary, Harry said looked down, looked away. “Yes, he worked for Willy and me, but he cared about us too, and he cared about tradition, chain of command. My request seemed to jeopardize all three. He grimaced and furrowed his brow, an amorphous area, since JLP didn’t have a lot of hair.
“Finally, he smoothed back the charcoal bristles remaining on each side and said that, were he to procure said files, it would be very upsetting for me. Very upsetting indeed, Harry. Yes. I know. Sort of the point. He nodded. Ah. Hmm. I see.”
A few days later, JLP, the private secretary brought Harry into a tiny office up a back staircase in St. James’s Palace and handed him a brown Do Not Bend envelope. He said he’d decided against showing me all the police files. He’d gone through and removed the more…“challenging” ones. “For your sake.”
Harry wrote, “I was frustrated. But I didn’t argue. If JLP didn’t think I could handle them, then I probably couldn’t. I thanked him for protecting me. He said he’d leave me to it, then walked out.
“I took several breaths, opened the file. Exterior photos. Outside the tunnel in which the crash occurred. Looking into the mouth of the tunnel. Interior photos. A few feet inside the tunnel. Deep interior photos. Well inside the tunnel. Looking down the tunnel, and out the other end.
“Finally…close-ups of the smashed Mercedes, which was said to have entered the tunnel around midnight and never emerged in one piece. All seemed to be police photos. But then I realized that many, if not most, were from paps (paparazzies) and other photographers at the scene.
“The Paris police had seized their cameras. Some photos were taken moments after the crash, some much later. Some showed police officers walking about, others showed onlookers milling and gawping. All gave a sense of chaos, a disgraceful carnival atmosphere.”
He continued, “Now came more detailed photos, clearer, closer, inside the Mercedes.
There was the lifeless body of Mummy’s friend, whom I now knew to be her boyfriend. There was her bodyguard, who’d survived the crash, though it left him with gruesome injuries.
“And there was the driver, slumped over the wheel. He was blamed by many for the crash, because there was allegedly alcohol in his blood, and because he was dead and couldn’t answer. At last I came to the photos of Mummy.
“There were lights around her, auras, almost halos. How strange. The color of the lights was the same color as her hair—golden. I didn’t know what the lights were, I couldn’t imagine, though I came up with all sorts of supernatural explanations.”
Harry wrote, As I realized their true origin, my stomach clenched. Flashes. They were flashes. And within some of the flashes were ghostly visages, and half visages, paps and reflected paps and refracted paps on all the smooth metal surfaces and glass windscreens.
He said hose men who’d chased her…”they’d never stopped shooting her while she lay between the seats, unconscious, or semiconscious, and in their frenzy they’d sometimes accidentally photographed each other. Not one of them was checking on her, offering her help, not even comforting her. They were just shooting, shooting, shooting.”
I hadn’t known, he wrote. “I hadn’t dreamed. I’d been told that paps chased Mummy, that they’d hunted her like a pack of wild dogs, but I’d never dared to imagine that, like wild dogs, they’d also feasted on her defenseless body. I hadn’t been aware, before this moment, that the last thing Mummy saw on this earth was a flashbulb.
“Unless…Now I looked much closer at Mummy: no visible injuries. She was slumped, out of it, but generally…fine. Better than fine. Her dark blazer, her glowing hair, her radiant skin—doctors at the hospital where she was taken couldn’t stop remarking how beautiful she was. I stared, trying to make myself cry, but I couldn’t, because she was so lovely, and so alive.”
Maybe the photos JLP held back, he said were more definitive. “Maybe they showed death in plainer terms. But I didn’t consider that possibility too closely. I slammed the folder shut and said: She’s hiding.”
The narration continued with Prince harry sawing he had requested the file because he sought proof, and the file proved nothing, except that his mother was in a car crash, after which she looked generally unharmed, while those who chased her continued to harass her. That was all.
Rather than proof, he discovered more reasons for rage and in that little office, seated before that wretched Do Not Bend envelope, the red mist came down, and it wasn’t a mist, it was a torrent.
Earlier in the book, Prince Harry described how he learnt of his mother’s death from his father in the middle of the night when he was already in bed.
He said, “I pulled the sheets and covers to my chin, because I didn’t like the dark. No, not true, I loathed the dark. Mummy did too, she told me so. I’d inherited this from her, I thought, along with her nose, her blue eyes, her love of people, her hatred of smugness and fakery and all things posh.
“I can see myself under those covers, staring into the dark, listening to the clicky insects and hooty owls. Did I imagine shapes sliding along the walls? Did I stare at the bar of light along the floor, which was always there, because I always insisted on the door being left open a crack? How much time elapsed before I dropped off? In other words, how much of my childhood remained, and how much did I cherish it, savor it, before groggily becoming aware of— Pa?
“He was standing at the edge of the bed, looking down. His white dressing- gown made him seem like a ghost in a play. Yes, darling boy. He gave a half-smile, averted his gaze.
The room wasn’t dark anymore. Wasn’t light either. Strange in-between shade, almost brownish, almost like the water in the ancient tub.
“He looked at me in a funny way, a way he’d never looked at me before. With…fear?
What is it, Pa? He sat down on the edge of the bed. He put a hand on my knee. Darling boy, Mummy’s been in a car crash. I remember thinking: Crash…OK. But she’s all right? Yes?”
Harry said he vividly remembers that thought flashing through my mind and remembers waiting patiently for Pa to confirm that indeed Mummy was all right.
“And I remember him not doing that. There was then a shift internally. I began silently pleading with Pa, or God, or both: No, no, no. Pa looked down into the folds of the old quilts and blankets and sheets.
“There were complications. Mummy was quite badly injured and taken to hospital, darling boy. He always called me “darling boy,” but he was saying it quite a lot now. His voice was soft. He was in shock, it seemed. Oh. Hospital? Yes. With a head injury.”
Did he mention paparazzi, Harry tried to recall? “Did he say she’d been chased? I don’t think so. I can’t swear to it, but probably not. The paps were such a problem for Mummy, for everyone, it didn’t need to be said.
I thought again: Injured…but she’s OK. She’s been taken to hospital, they’ll fix her head, and we’ll go and see her. Today. Tonight, at the latest. They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it.”
These phrases, he wrote remain in my mind like darts in a board. “He did say it that way, I know that much for sure. She didn’t make it. And then everything seemed to come to a stop. That’s not right. Not seemed. Nothing at all seemed. Everything distinctly, certainly, irrevocably, came to a stop.
“None of what I said to him then remains in my memory. It’s possible that I didn’t say anything. What I do remember with startling clarity is that I didn’t cry. Not one tear.
Pa didn’t hug me.
“He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis? But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said: It’s going to be OK. That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue. He stood and left. I don’t recall how I knew that he’d already been in the other room, that he’d already told Willy, but I knew.”