The Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are part of the so-called New Firm, the seven senior royals who were photographed with the Queen at Windsor last month. They are expected to be taking on more responsibility after the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as Prince Andrew’s retreat into the shadows. The Royal Family has changed a lot in recent years, modernising itself to become more relevant, but Edward has previously had difficulty with such change.
In fact, back when Diana was in the family, he felt like she was “redefining” the institution and decided to distance himself from her as a result.
He reportedly sensed trouble brewing on the horizon, and ultimately turned out to be correct as Diana and Charles’ marriage deteriorated to the point where they were completely at odds and needed to separate.
The tension of trying to balance royal protocol with a personal touch was one that characterised Diana’s whole relationship with the royals.
Ingrid Seward, Editor-in-Chief of Majesty magazine and royal biographer, wrote in her book ‘Prince Edward: A Biography’ how the Queen’s youngest child felt she was the “symbol of the nation” to be “cherished and protected”.
The author claimed Edward is a man of fierce loyalty to his friends and the institution he serves.
Prince Edward distanced himself from Princess Diana
The Queen with her seven senior royals at Windsor
So, when Diana began “redefining the Royal Family to reflect her own personality, it grated against his sense of propriety”.
He was reportedly “wary” of the Princess of Wales, even at the beginning as her relationship with Prince Charles developed.
The Earl “sensed the trouble she would cause” his brother and the family, and by “keeping the Princess at an arm’s length”, he was preparing himself for the problems that lay ahead.
Ms Seward wrote: “The faster Diana spun her glamorous web, the further Edward distanced himself from her”.
She added that Edward believed members of the Royal Family “have got to try and keep up some sort of appearance”.
Diana and Charles visit Edward in New Zealand in 1983
However, Diana was a “powerful force” in the Royal Family and continued to be for many years.
Edward was not the only one to disapprove of Diana’s new way of doing things.
Princess Anne thought both Diana and Sarah Ferguson were “lessening the stature of the Royal Family” and were “too tabloid”.
Daily Express royal photographer Steve Wood told the 2002 Channel 4 documentary ‘The Real Princess Anne’ what the Princess Royal really thought of her sister-in-law.
Princess Anne used to call Diana and Fergie “those girls”
He said: “She was extremely annoyed when Diana became centre stage and then Fergie became centre stage for a while.
“She said about them behind their backs several times: ‘Those girls’,” the last phrase said sneeringly.
Mr Wood added: “She viewed them both as lessening the stature of the Royal Family. Too much tabloid for her.”
The Sun royal correspondent added that the Queen’s daughter resented how much attention and praise Diana got.
He claimed she once told a colleague: “I work hard every day. I’m never in the paper, no one ever thanks me. All she has to do is show up.”
Mr Arnold said: “I think that sums up their relationship. Diana stole everyone’s limelight and Anne resented it.”
The Royal Family were branded “heartless” by some in the aftermath of Diana’s death in 1997, according to the Channel 4 documentary ‘Paxman on the Queen’s Children’.
Dickie Arbiter, who was the Queen’s press secretary at the time, told Mr Paxman that Andrew and Edward were both in London at the time of the tragedy, so he called Edward to ask if he was going to work.
When Edward said he was, Mr Arbiter told him to to “drop in and look at the book of consodelence” for Princess Diana.
The prince’s initial reaction was to ask if anyone would see him, before saying: “No, I’m not going to, I’m going to go with my brother this afternoon.”
However, the press secretary insisted that it would be too late in the afternoon and essentially ordered him to go in the morning.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK