While Camilla Parker Bowles acted as weekend hostess at Highgrove, telling guests how well her roses were doing in the garden, Princess Diana was often on her own at Kensington Palace, where she would spend hours on the phone to her girlfriends. Once, in 1991, as the marriage dragged on, she apologized to a friend for the background noise, explaining that she was trying to get her tiara on.
With the boys away at school, she set out to make her life less vacant. She embarked on a clandestine relationship with James Hewitt, a cavalry officer, who helped William and Harry with their polo technique (and who in 1994 published a kiss-and-tell about their affair, Princess in Love). In her Panorama TV interview, she said she had been in love with him “but badly let down”. And there was James Gilbey, a Lotus car dealer whom she met when she was 17. Now, she bonded with him afresh over their disastrous love lives. It was Gilbey who called her Squidgy or Squidge 14 times in what became known as the “Squidgygate tapes”. Although they didn’t become public until August 1992, they were secretly recorded by radio hams on New Year’s Eve 1989, when Diana was at Sandringham and Gilbey was in Oxfordshire.