Worthing: Remembering Princess Diana

Lady Colin Campbell, owner of Castle Goring near Worthing, invites you into her home for a run of her play remembering the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 8:42 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:37 am
Lady Colin Campbell
Lady Colin Campbell

Bid for Freedom is a stage play in two acts. Written by Lady Colin, the play, set in 1990-1991, recounts conversations between Lady Colin Campbell and Diana, conversations that formed the basis for Lady Colin Campbell’s best-selling book Diana in Private.

There will be three evening performances at 7.30pm on May 31, June 1 and June 2. There will be one afternoon matinee on Saturday, June 2 at 2.30pm. Doors will open 30 minutes before each performance. Tickets on www.wegottickets.com/bid-for-freedom.

Lady Colin is well positioned to assess Diana’s impact: “She left her imprint on her children with a new royal way of doing things. She was a good mother. Her way was more contact, more emotional, more forthcoming. Society was becoming more informal generally, but I think she embodied that change and accelerated that change, and I would say that that was her imprint.

“The other accidental legacy, one of the consequences of her separation and divorce, is that now society doesn’t generally expect the people it looks up to to be perfect. They are perfectly happy to have their models being human with feet of clay.

“I first met her when she was about 17 at a charity event that I helped organise. My mother-in-law knew her step-mother, and the reason I remember Diana is because she was completely unremarkable. She was just a rather tall, gawky Sloane with nothing really to recommend her, but the reason I remember her was because my mother-in-law, who was one of Barbara Cartland’s greatest friends, said to me afterwards ‘That is Raine’s stepdaughter’. Otherwise I wouldn’t have remembered her at all and she would have fallen off the face of my map.

“After she married the Prince of Wales, she joined the charity social circuit which I was part of. In those days, people like me and people like her did a lot of charity work.

“I ran across her a few times and we gradually got to look out for each other. I suggested that we do a fund-raiser for our charities.

“That was, I think, 1990. There was a big recession at the end of the 80s, and it was very difficult to raise money for charities.

“She was wanting to make her bid for freedom, and I would not go along with her version of events. As we got deeper and deeper involved, she came up with a version that would not, strictly speaking, be accurate, and so we came to a parting of the ways. I refused to write what was effectively propaganda.”

Lady Colin declined to be part of a rewriting which put Diana very heavily in the right and her husband very heavily in the wrong, all part of a complex situation.

“As far as we could tell from the information that I got and from the people that I knew, I would say that the matter of right and wrong really was not that simple.”

The key to understanding it all, Lady Colin believes, is Diana’s great fear that she would lose her children: “She wanted her freedom, but she wanted custody of her children. Her great fear was losing her children because of what had happened to her mother.

“She and Charles had their own lives. Everybody believed the marriage would last until the end of their lives. Nobody envisaged that there could be a divorce... except Diana. She wanted her freedom.”

For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2