A new book about Britain's royal family paints Princess Diana as a manipulative mother and claims that the breakup of her marriage to Prince Charles had a profound effect on her children.
Royal watcher Ingrid Seward, author of "William And Harry," tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that the late princess was prepared to use her children to secure her position in the palace.
Seward says, "I think any mother would have done that because she was fighting for her life. She was fighting; she thought they might have taken them away from her. It would be strange for anyone not to use the kids. If she said, 'well, I'm going home,' he [Prince Charles] is not going to worried but if she says, 'I'm going home and taking the kids,' then he's going to produce an emotion. You can't blame her."
The book opens with a never-before-told story describing Princess Diana, only 19 when she became engaged to Prince Charles, as a dysfunctional bride-to-be who spent the days leading up to her wedding sitting in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace with incipient bulimia, eating Frosted Flakes and becoming overly familiar with the staff.
Seward explains, "A great friend of mine worked for her during that period. He was Diana's first rock; it was this boy. He was a similar age to Diana. She did lean on him. She did so. He doesn't know what that illness was. He didn't know what it was. She did start gorging herself and didn't want any food from the palace kitchen. When my friend went down to ask for more Frosties, they said, 'You must be stealing them.' She was eating so much. All her problems stemmed from the very early days in the palace when she was not knowing what to do. You thought she would have been into arranging the wedding. But she didn't even want to have her friends there."
Seward also suggests in her book that Princess Diana was less than the ideal mother. The author says, "I think what she did was she smothered rather than mothered on some occasions. I think that laid a lot of emotion on her children, especially William. Although he would protect her to death, but he said, 'Mommy, why are you always crying? What are you crying about?' And that worried him, less so with Harry. I think always against, using them in battle against Charles. They wouldn't understand why."
When asked what she thinks was the atmosphere as the boys grew up, Seward say hey were very protected by staff, but it was difficult for them to hear reports about their parents portrayed in a bad light.
"Kids get very embarrassed by their parents," Seward notes. "I think they were proud of her [Princess Diana] on one hand, of the work she did, which they still maintain now. It's something they can hold on to about mommy. But they were embarrassed. I think the day William started school at Eton, there was a big story about Diana having an affair with the rugby player."
Their upbringing, she says, contributes to the boys' caution with people, Seward says. The press for now has been kept at an arm's length. But, the royal watcher says, that won't last much longer for 21-year-old William.
"He has said the last couple days that he appreciates the press being gentle on him," notes Seward. "And he knows that once he goes to university, it'll be tough. Editors of newspapers can help him. I think if William does a little bit of give and take, which he has the last few days, I think he'll be OK."
So far, for his 21st birthday, the palace presented Prince William to the nation with an extensive tour in both North and South Wales to demonstrate his interest in calling attention to the plight of rural communities and to the continuing need for care for the homeless.
Hours of video were released, showing him chatting with people at a new homeless center, and listening to the music, cooking and drinking at an agricultural fair, as well as chatting with a wheelchair-bound woman. As his mother shone her light on the problems that were considered unfashionable, so, it appears, does William.
There was a presumption that William and Harry were always Diana's boys. But Seward says there is definitely a mixture of Spencer and Windsor in the two.
The palace also has allowed the release of a candid home video, showing William, his younger brother Harry, and their father preparing for a polo match, discussing it during the break and hanging around afterwards. It shows a comfortable and affectionate relationship within the Wales family.
When asked if Prince Charles became a better father after his ex-wife's death in 1997, Seward says, "I think he had to. You know what men are like? If they can get someone else to do it, they will. He had to become a good father. Overnight, he became a very responsible father. He had to take responsibility."
Prince William has also granted a two-part interview to the Press Association in the U.K. and has sat for still photographs with two different photographers; Mario Testino, who famously photographed Princess Diana and then, more recently, the Prince of Wales and the boys at Highgrove.
That was the annual dose of William permitted by the Palace in exchange for allowing him to keep his privacy while still a student at St. Andrews University.
As for his "Out of Africa" birthday party on Saturday night, 300 family and friends celebrated at Windsor Castle. But celebrants were upstaged by the "Comedic Terrorist" who crashed the party and grabbed the microphone from the Prince as he was thanking his guests for coming.