It’s no surprise Meghan Markle has been compared to Princess Diana due to the troubled relationship she has had with both the palace and the press. Prince Harry even admitted he and Meghan left the U.K. and their royal duties behind in large part to avoid history repeating itself.
Among the many claims of lack of royal support they revealed In their bombshell interview with Oprah, Meghan said that she was given no formal training on how to behave as a royal and had to figure it all out for herself, including how to curtsy. “There’s no class on how to speak, how to cross your legs, how to be royal,” she said (via Business Insider).
Now, a former roommate of Princess Diana has revealed that Diana’s experience was very much the same as Meghan’s, with no formal training offered to her. But that doesn’t mean the palace never gave Princess Diana any advice. And you will be absolutely shocked to discover what that royal advice was all about!
Diana’s roommate describes their early encounters with the press
In September 2021, a special plaque to honor Princess Diana was unveiled outside of her former address, 60 Coleherne Court in Earls Court, London. There, Diana lived with three female roommates from 1979 until 1981, when she married Prince Charles.
One of her roommates, Virginia Clarke, marked the unveiling ceremony with a speech and revealed what it was like for Diana to suddenly have to deal with the press when she started dating Charles.
“We had absolutely no idea how to handle them,” Clarke said via The Telegraph. “They were professional, seasoned reporters who descended on us from everywhere. They were desperate for comments and photographs, looking through the windows.”
Diana played ‘cat and mouse’ with the press
“It was at Coleherne Court that Diana learned to play cat and mouse with the press, with the backing of us flatmates,” Clarke said. “We formed a team who together began to play this crazy game of avoiding the press. We thought it was really funny at the time, and Diana reveled in it.”
Clarke described an instance when Diana fooled the press in order to go on a weekend date with Charles.
“She took her suitcase, and came round the corner here and sat in the car,” Clarke said. “All the press jumped into their cars and revved the engines. Then she went ‘Ooops’, in a sort of slightly over-dramatic fashion as if she’d forgotten something, got out of the car, came back inside, got a second suitcase, came down the stairs and got into a taxi and went in that [the other] direction. I think it was 1.30 in the morning when the doorbell finally went and a sad voice said, ‘Is Diana ever coming out again?’ She was thrilled with that success.”
However, the early thrills of avoiding the press didn’t last for long.
The video above shows one of Diana’s early encounters with the press in 1980 when rumors spread she and Charles were getting engaged. It was impossible for Diana to simply leave her place of work at the Young England kindergarten without having cameras shoved in her face. You can even see Diana say “Careful!” to avoid walking into a pole as she is being hounded.
Eventually, Diana’s encounters with the press turned tragic.
Fun and games turn tragic
“Later in life when she dropped her royal status, it saddened me to realize she no longer had her friends around her and the cat and mouse game became very lonely and not quite so funny,” Clarke said.
Clarke left unsaid the ultimate bitter irony: that Diana died while running from obtrusive paparazzi members. The cat and mouse game was over, and the “mouse” was gone forever.
By 1994, three years before Diana died, the press were as relentless as ever, as you can see in the video below.
Meanwhile, the one piece of advice Diana received from the palace was stunningly unhelpful.
The only advice the palace gave Diana
Initially, Clarke simply talked about how unprepared Diana and her roommates were about the increased press scrutiny.
“Interestingly, none of us, including Diana, received any help,” Clarke said. “I’m not sure who might have helped us, but there might have been someone. Some PR or palace person, I don’t know.”
But then Clarke revealed the one piece of advice the palace did give them, and it is a stunner.
“The only thing I remember being told was we should look under our cars for bombs,” Clarke revealed. “Sadly none of us had read the handbook for bomb spotting so we didn’t know where to begin with that one.”
If the palace was unhelpful toward Diana, sadly, that tradition carried on decades later with Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle.
Harry is scared about history repeating itself
On one hand, Clarke’s story about Diana getting basically zero guidance from the palace is in line with what we have heard before. On the other hand, that the lack of advice from the palace to those marrying into the family continues to this day is surprising.
In the bombshell Oprah interview, Prince Harry said he believes much of the British tabloid media is “bigoted,” and their goal is to make a “toxic environment” of “control and fear” (via the BBC). Ultimately, Harry said that the British press was a “large part” of why he and Meghan left the U.K.
Harry compares himself and Meghan to Diana and Dodi
Furthermore, Harry revealed that he was worried that the relentlessness of the press would lead to Meghan’s death. He also compared himself and Meghan to Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, an Egyptian film producer. They died together in a car accident in Paris in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi. Harry implied that the press’s obsession with them was driven by racism due to their interracial relationship.
“History was repeating itself. My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn’t white and now look what’s happened,” Harry said in his Apple TV+ mental health series The Me You Can’t See.
“You wanna talk about history repeating itself? They’re not gonna stop until [Meghan] dies. It’s incredibly triggering to potentially lose another woman in my life. Like the list is growing and it all comes back to the same people. The same business model, the same industry.”
Ultimately, stepping away from royal life and moving to the U.S. appears to be a choice Harry and Meghan are happy with. They celebrated the birth of their second child Lilibet Diana in June.