Claims that Britain's Princess Diana had an abortion in the 1990s during an affair with art dealer Oliver Hoare have surfaced in a new book to be published this week in Britain.
On the heels of the book will be the broadcast, in the United States and Britain, of never-before-seen videotapes in which the princess, who died seven years ago, discusses her troubled marriage and her appeal for help to the queen.
In an interview on The Early Show Monday, royal watcher Victoria Mather said Britain is buzzing about "The Real Diana" by Lady Colin Campbell, which claims Diana learned she was pregnant in 1994 and became "almost unhinged with misery and grief." Diana was separated but not divorced at the time.
"This came to light," Mather said, "because around about the time she is alleged to have been pregnant, she made up to 300 nuisance telephone calls to Oliver Hoare's home, which were intercepted by his wife and subsequently traced by the police and traced back to the Princess of Wales. The case was never pursued. She might have been pregnant. And then the pregnancy was terminated. That could explain the hysterical nature of the volume of the calls."
However, Mather pointed out that the sources cited by the author are all dead, something she called "very convenient for the author." The book claims the late princess confessed to her business adviser and friend Joseph Saunders and to Lady Victoria Waymouth, who died unexpectedly during the summer. Waymouth is identified in the book only as the daughter of an earl. Diana reportedly used appointments with Saunders, who died last year, as a cover for the abortion.
In addition, Mathers called the author "a woman of uncertain reputation herself."
In the tapes, which Diana recorded with communications consultant Peter Settelen in her living room in 1992 in an effort to gain confidence for the public speech she later gave to the BBC, the princess discusses her husband's affair, her sex life and her appeal to the queen for help. The queen reportedly told her daughter-in-law that Charles was "hopeless."
"What is tragic, I think, about this tape, if you can call it, even put it in the realm of a tragedy, is the way in which Pincess of Wales reveals her lack of education," said Mather. "Then I went to my mother-in-law and she just said Charles is hopeless. And so, well, I mean, gosh. It's so sort of teenage, isn't it?"
Mather said the one of the interesting things about the tapes are that they reveal Diana and Prince Charles "only met, so she claims, 13 times before they were married.
"This is something out of the Victorian age. It's the century before last."
In the tapes Diana says she and Charles had sex only once every three weeks before their sex life eventually "fizzled out." She also claims her bodyguard, Barry Mannakee was killed for having an affair with her. Mannakee, a married police officer, died in a mysterious 1987 motorcycle accident. She calls him "the greatest fellow I've ever had."