Naked Diana, shouting Meghan: New book reveals palace dramas

Very little escapes the notice of the servants at Kensington Palace - including rivalries,...
Very little escapes the notice of the servants at Kensington Palace - including rivalries, illicit lovers and explosive marital rows. Photo / Getty Images

A new book claiming to reveal the secret lives of the royals, as told by former Palace staff, exposes bombshell details of some of the most famous faces of the royal family.

From a lover of Diana's caught hiding naked behind a pot plant to Princess Margaret's explicit rants and Meghan's alleged outbursts at staff, the book by Tom Quinn weaves the claims of an ex-royal staffer named "Winifred" among other details from former staff.

And while members of the royal family appear the epitome of good manners and grace to the public, it is the staff who, for decades, have been privy to the warts and all realities of these blue-blooded personalities.

In Kensington Palace: An Intimate Memoir From Queen Mary To Meghan Markle, Winifred shares that "The staff were always seeing half-naked people running around the place."

In particular, Winifred notes that Princess Diana often tried to act like everything was the norm, when it wasn't. "Her efforts were pointless," says the long-time servant. "We just pretended nothing was amiss or we hadn't seen, though of course we always had."

Winifred adds that staffers would still talk about what went on behind palace doors, regardless.

"Yet, somehow, neither Margaret nor Diana learned the simple fact that however much you trusted your staff not to talk about you, talk about you they would."

 Lord Snowden and Princess Margaret endured a tumultuous marriage. Photo / Getty Images
Lord Snowden and Princess Margaret endured a tumultuous marriage. Photo / Getty Images

Princess Margaret

Part of the bombshell book focuses on Princess Margaret's love life with first husband, Lord Snowdon, and rivalries that plagued their marriage.

One of their servants, named "Ron" recalls "blistering rows" that would be heard all over the palace.

"She [Princess Margaret] would shriek the most terrible things, and she didn't give a damn if the windows and doors were open and everyone could hear," Ron told Quinn in the book.

"Quite a shock, I can tell you, to hear the Queen's sister shout the word 'c***' at the top of her voice.

"A lot of their rows were based on the fact that they competed to see who could sleep with who — it was a sort of tit-for-tat.

"She'd have sex with someone and flaunt it at him, so he'd go off and do the same and let her know.

"Once, I believe she slept with one of his male friends and then he deliberately slept with the same man!

"So, when she shouted, 'I f***ed your friend So-and-So ...' he shot back, 'So did I.'

"I think he usually won these battles because she was always stumped when he told her he'd had sex with a man."

The book also details Ron's recollections of Margaret's drinking mixed with her ego. It was a habit which would often lead to embarrassing moments, witnessed by her staff, and portrayed to a degree by Margaret's character in The Crown.

"I remember once I was serving drinks at one of her parties in Apartment 1A and she'd got up to sing," said Ron.

Ron noted that staff always made sure to stay still when Margaret sung, in order to avoid her unleashing on them for lack of attention.

"Anyway, even I could tell that she couldn't really sing a note — she was out of tune and her timing wasn't that great either.

"It might have been the fact that she was drunk — but even sober, she wasn't as good a singer as she thought she was.

"At the end, of course, everyone roared their approval and applauded wildly.

"She was delighted. She felt she was one among the artists. But she couldn't see that she wouldn't have received such a rapturous reception had she not been the Queen's sister."

 When Prince Charles and Diana married in 1981, they moved into a large space made up from two...
When Prince Charles and Diana married in 1981, they moved into a large space made up from two apartments, known as 8 and 9, at Kensington Palace. Photo / Getty Images

Princess Diana

When Charles and Diana married in 1981, they moved into two apartments that were known as 8 and 9, the book details.

According to one former Kensington servant, the marriage didn't even get off to a happy start. "There is a myth that Charles and Diana were living happily in this beautiful palace, at least for their first few years together, but, actually, you could hear them rowing almost from the day they moved in," he said.

"But we were instructed to be discreet at all times — so sometimes if I heard a row going on, I waited in the corridor till the noise had died down, and only then would I knock."

After Charles moved out permanently in 1992, the staffer noted that Diana felt a great sense of relief and release and that the apartment was more her home.

"It's where her children were being brought up and where she was often happy; it was where she stood up to Charles."

In the five years leading up to her death, Winifred, who worked for her then, told Quinn: "Diana always wanted to combine being a megastar — which is what she was in the last few years of her life — with being a completely anonymous person."

"She's very good at making herself look very ordinary," Quinn notes a servant saying.

Another palace insider recalled: "What she loved above all was to walk around the park while hiding her identity in drab clothes."

The staffer revealed Diana's adventures would often turn into palace gossip, including a time she sat on a bench, not noticing there was a homeless person snoozing on it.

"He hadn't a clue who she was but woke up and started chatting to her. And all credit to her, she wasn't in the least fazed and chatted away quite cheerfully to him.

"He even offered her a drink from a very suspicious-looking bottle he had in his pocket.

"She very politely declined, but they talked for about 20 minutes quite happily."

The insiders also reveal in the book that Diana would often be caught naked, sunbathing on the sunroof, often standing up after forgetting she was topless.

On one occasion Diana found herself suddenly staring at two builders who quickly turned away.

"They may have just been builders," said one of the footmen later, "but they were gentlemen all the same."

 Along with most incoming palace residents, William and Kate simply refused to make do with the...
Along with most incoming palace residents, William and Kate simply refused to make do with the apartments they were given. Photo / Getty Images

Kensington Palace was also the setting for many of Diana's love affairs after Charles.

Recalling the affairs, Winifred said: "Diana became seriously obsessed with Oliver Hoare —almost to a deranged extent.

"She'd wander around Kensington in disguise, looking for telephone boxes from which she made hundreds of calls to him.

"Her final relationship, with Dodi Fayed, wasn't popular with the servants. He thought he was rather superior — he was a playboy who was obsessed with his status.

"He treated us very snootily, and Diana was so nice that she'd make a point of going to see any servants Dodi had shouted at or been rude to and apologising for him.

"It was that sort of thing that made her staff feel so warm towards her.

"Once, Dodi was preening himself in the reflections from various pictures as he walked along a corridor when he tripped and fell. The staff laughed about that for days afterwards."

Kate, William, Meghan and Harry

According to the royal insiders, William and Kate simply refused to make do with the apartments they were given and their refurbishment was taken to extraordinary lengths.

The royal couple's teams of nannies, footmen, maids, secretaries and communications experts then move into the vacated area.

Harry and Meghan were also quick to vacate their nearest neighbours amid rumours of a feud between Kate and Meghan.

 Very little escapes the notice of the servants at Kensington Palace, including the real reasons...
Very little escapes the notice of the servants at Kensington Palace, including the real reasons why Kate and Meghan fell out. Photo / Getty Images

Meghan also didn't find much solace at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, writes Quinn. Once she'd settled in, says a Kensington insider, "Meghan realised that living there would be like living in the Russian steppes."

The couple are now living in California, with son Archie, despite Meghan initially being warmly welcomed to Kensington Palace by Kate and the family.

"Kate is actually one of the nicest royals, and she hasn't let life in her extremely grand apartment at Kensington go to her head — or at least not too much," a palace insider says.

"She is nice to her staff, in the main, and she was very warm towards Meghan when she arrived.

"But tensions were bound to arise because Meghan inevitably had to accept that, although she is a duchess, she is not married to the next king.

"I think she has found that difficult to deal with.

"And although Harry loved their cottage in the grounds, Meghan was conscious that it was tiny in comparison to the vast apartment complex where Kate and William live."

Another insider agreed that Meghan's attitude was affected by her new status.

"Being a royal goes to everyone's head eventually — and after a while, William and Harry would meet without their wives in tow to avoid rows and stony silences."

Quinn's book also claims the initial move to Windsor from Meghan and Harry was triggered by Meghan shouting at a member of the Cambridge's staff.

"Kate was horrified when Meghan shouted at a member of Kate's staff — that was definitely the beginning of discussions about leaving Kensington Palace," a former servant added.

"Like many people not used to dealing with servants, Meghan overdoes the imperiousness; so on the one hand she wants to be like Diana, a people's princess, and on the other she wants people to stand to attention when she clicks her fingers."

 Kate is said to be "well-liked" among staff. Photo / Getty Images
Kate is said to be "well-liked" among staff. Photo / Getty Images

The royal courtiers at Kensington apparently received a number of severe reprimands from Meghan, and were said to be rather relieved when she and Harry moved out.

Meghan reportedly also worried people would look down on her because she was a divorced, mixed-race American.

"There are the more reactionary elements in the Royal Family who do look down on her, and she knows it," added a Kensington insider.

"This makes her overreact sometimes — she doesn't have Kate's assured way of dealing with people."

However, the insiders recalled that the Queen did not share in this prejudice and in fact liked Meghan very much.

Another former palace employee said: "The Queen has had a soft spot for Americans since meeting Barack Obama who she completely fell in love with — so much so, that she's frequently asked her courtiers if they can arrange for him to come to Britain now he is no longer President."

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