Princess Diana funeral bombshell as brother axed explosive chunks of speech
Princess Diana’s brother read out one of the greatest ever eulogies 22 years ago today – but axed huge chunks of it at the last minute.
Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer, turned into a global hero overnight after his jaw-dropping speech at his sister's Westminster Abbey funeral on Saturday, September 6, 1997.
He delivered a thinly-veiled attack on the Royal Family and lashed out at the press, earning his eulogy the title of one of the greatest speeches of the century.
But there was even more to be said, after seeing a draft copy of the speech Earl Spencer penned ahead of the sad day.
He had crossed out, in a black biro pen, an entire paragraph delivering a withering attack on the press.
The Earl also diluted his attack on the royals and even deleted a line of thanks to Diana’s boyfriend Dodi Fayed, who died with her in the horror car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Having seen the copy of the speech at Charles’ stately home at Althorp in Northants – where the public are offered tours at £18.50 a pop – we can reveal the exact words which were never spoken.
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"To say she manipulated the media is to miss the point," the first crossed out section reads.
"Yes, she quite rightly harnessed the interests in her to highlight her charities' aims; and, through sheer need to survive, she had to defend her inner self by bowing to the juggernaut strength of the press occasionally.
"But 'manipulation', with implied slyness and cunning, I reject the charge against her. From where I stand the only people I see 'manipulating the media' are those who own large chunks of it."
Charles’ famous speech earned him a rapturous applause that even rang out inside the church, and it was his attack on the Royal Family which partly earned him this.
But we can reveal his criticism of the royals could have been even stronger, as his edited speech, which he read out to a global TV audience of two billion people, also hit out at the stripping of Diana’s royal status following her marriage breakdown with Prince Charles.
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The Earl described her as a British girl who "needed no royal title to continue to generate her brand of magic".
He also, in a single sentence which sparked gasps in every living room across the world, pledged to Prince William and Harry that his "blood family" would protect Wills and Harry from the problems of being a royal and "immersed by duty and tradition".
Yet in the unedited speech, he diluted another implied criticism of the royals, deleting a part that suggested Diana had died at a time when she had "at last rediscovered joy in her private life".
He changed this to "when she had joy in her private life".
And in another surprise deletion, the Earl crossed out his only mention of Diana's boyfriend Dodi Fayed, who died with her in the Alma Tunnel crash.
He had planned to say: "And we thank Dodi Al Fayed for making her last weeks ones of happiness."
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Instead he chose to end with: "Above all we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister, the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds."
According to Australian news site Sydney Morning Herald, who also saw the speech during an exhibition Down Under, the Earl said that after days of wrestling over what to write, he eventually penned it after waking at 4am one morning.
"Within two hours I had completed every word, a stream of writing that came more from my heart than my head," he said.
"I recognised that a couple of the passages were strong."
The newspaper reports he read the speech to two estate managers at Althorp before the funeral, who then advised him to remove a "particularly bitter section" attacking tabloid media bosses.
It is not known who made the decisions over the other deletions.
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