While Prince Charles’s long-running affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles is now public knowledge – and was extensively covered in The Crown – a source close to the Prince has revealed that Princess Diana strayed from the marriage first.
Allan Peters, who was the Prince’s personal protection officer for nine years, has told a new CNN documentary about the late Princess of Wales that she had an affair with police bodyguard named Barry Mannakee before Charles rekindled his romance with Camilla.
In the upcoming documentary, Peters says: "The popular perception is that the Prince of Wales was straying all the way through his marriage and that is definitely, unequivocally not the case."
"The first person that strayed," Peters insists, "was the princess. He went back to see Mrs. Parker-Bowles after he learned about her affair with Mannakee.
“Nobody is the villain,” he adds, “In my view, everyone is the victim… he was under a lot of pressure to get married and she too was the victim of this whole process."
Princess Diana previously revealed that she began the relationship with Mannakee when she was "24 or 25.” That’s potentially up to a year before Charles and Camilla restarted the affair they began in the early 1970s.
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In 1987, a year or so after Diana’s affair with Mannakee was discovered, he died in a freak car accident which many people – including Diana herself – have speculated may have been caused deliberately.
The royal protection officer was riding on the back of police colleague Sergeant Stephen Peet’s motorbike when a VW Passat estate pulled out in front of them and both policemen fell off the bike.
Mannakee slid into the car and suffered catastrophic spinal injuries, dying before an ambulance arrived.
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While conspiracy theorists maintain that the driver of the car has “never been traced” a retired doctor whose name was withheld by the authorities has admitted that he was the driver of the estate car and told The Independent that stayed with Mannakee until an ambulance arrived.
But in 2004, US news channel NBC broadcasted a secret video recorded by Diana’s voice coach Peter Settelen in which the princess described Mannakee as “the greatest love I’ve ever had”.
“I was quite happy to give it all up," she said. "Just to go off and live with him. And he kept saying he thought it was a good idea too,” she said.
“[But] it was all found out and he was chucked out [of royal protection]. Then he was killed. I think he was bumped off.”
But the retired doctor who was there at the time rejected the accusation: “I did not conspire to murder Barry Mannakee,” he said. “That’s laughable – about as laughable as it can get.
“It’s rubbish. Somebody’s making up a story to sell newspapers.”
CNN's six-part documentary series Diana is showing throughout October
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