Diana’s shock confession: Protection officer ‘bumped off’ as pair became too close
Princess Diana believed one of her inner circle was “bumped off”, shocking never-before-seen footage reveals.
A series of dramatic tapes will be released after years of legal battles which show a candid Princess Diana discussing a wide range of topics, from her childhood to her ill-fated marriage to Prince Charles.
In it she confides that she believes one of her Royal Protection Officers – presumed to be Barry Mannakee – was “bumped off”.
Mr Mannakee died in a motorbike crash in 1987, and the inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He was a police officer with the Royal Protection Squad and was assigned as a bodyguard to Diana, Princess of Wales in 1985.
The pair became close and Diana would often turn to him for support. Rumours of an affair emerged when Prince Charles’s protection officer walked in on Mr Mannakee comforting Princess Diana.
It is thought due to their close relationship Mr Mannakee was moved from his royal duties at Kensington Palace to the Diplomatic Protection Group in central London.
Diana said she believes he was “chucked out”.
In the never-before-seen tapes, released for a new Channel 4 documentary, Princess Diana appears to be talking about Mr Mannakee. She says: “I think he was bumped off, but there we are.”
The revelations were made in a series of chats with Peter Settelen, as she underwent voice coaching for her public speaking.
The sessions were recorded in a bid to help her improve, soon before her infamous Panorama interview where she revealed there were “three people” in her marriage in a dig at Camilla, now Duchess of Cornwall.
She tells Mr Settelen: “I tell you one of the biggest crutches of my life, which I don’t find easy to discuss, was when I was 24, 25, I fell deeply in love with somebody who worked in this environment. And he was the greatest friend I’ve ever had.”
When asked if she saw him as a father figure, she replied: “Yeah, I suppose you could say I did.
“I’m sure I did. I was like a little girl in front of him the whole time. Desperate for praise, desperate.
“I mean, I was quite happy to give all this up, well, not all this. At the moment, at the time it was quite something to have all this, just to go off and live with him.”
The “dynamite” tapes were found in the former royal butler Paul Burrell’s home during a raid in 2001.
He was the only survivor of the horrific car crash in Paris which claimed the life of the Princess.
After a lengthy legal battle with the Spencer family the tapes were returned to Mr Settelen in 2004.
But so delicate were the subjects there has been great controversy over broadcasting them.
Snippets were sold to US network NBC and broadcast in the US as part of a two-part documentary in 2004.
In the UK, the right to screen them was bought by the BBC for a rumoured £30,000 in 2007, and was to be aired as part of a documentary, called Diana, In Her Own Words, to mark a decade since her death.
But the project flopped, costing an estimated £100,000.
As the 20th anniversary of her death approaches, on August 31, there has been a renewed interest in her life and death.
Following on from her two sons, Princes William and Harry, opening up about their mother in a documentary which was aired on Monday night, called Diana, Our Mother, it is thought the climate around screening the tapes has shifted.
The rights have now been obtained by Channel 4 to form part of a new programme; Diana: In Her Own Words.
Producer and director Kevin Sim, who oversaw the BBC film, called the tapes “dynamite”.
Channel 4 said they will be broadcast in a 110 minute documentary which would “provide valuable new insight into one of the world’s most iconic women of the late 20th century”.
Marcus Rutherford, Mr Settelen’s solicitor, said: “This material is some of the only pieces of candid, visual material that exists of Princess Diana and because of that, interest in it has been immense over the years.
“A lot of people have been keen to get hold of it but until now, we’ve resisted all attempts to hand it over.
“Peter has now been persuaded to make this material available for use in a Channel 4 documentary which he feels comes at the right time.”
A Channel 4 spokeswoman said they had informed Kensington Palace they plan to air excerpts from the recordings “in a contextualised historical framework at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death”.
The Royal Family spokesmen declined to comment.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
Tags: Princess Diana, Diana, People’s Princess, Documentary, Dynamite Tapes BBC Film, Oversaw, 110 minute Documentary, Producer and Director Kevin Sim, Prince William and Harry, New Programme, Diana in her own words, US network NBC, Peter Settelen, Kensington Palace, Mr Settelen, Mr Mannakee