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The Diana chronicles
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New York : Random House Audio, 2007.
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9780739343470
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5 sound discs : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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English
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Abridged.

Compact discs.
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A portrait of the late Princess Diana examines her relationships with the various women in her life, including her sexually charged mother, scheming grandmother, hated stepmother, competitive sisters, and the "other woman, " Camilla Parker-Bowles.
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CD Book 92 PRINCESS DIANA 1 .CIRCNOTE. 5 compact discs
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Summary

Summary

Intensely well researched and an un-put-down-able read, Tina Brown's extraordinary book parts the brocaded velvet and allows us an unprecedented look at the world and mind of the most famous person on the planet. A social commentary, a historical document and a psychological examination, written by a superb investigative journalist.
-Academy Award(R) Winning Actress Helen Mirren
Ten years after her death, Princess Diana remains a mystery. Was she the people's princess, who electrified the world with her beauty and humanitarian missions? Or was she a manipulative, media-savvy neurotic who nearly brought down the monarchy?
Only Tina Brown, former Editor-in-Chief of Tatler, England's glossiest gossip magazine; Vanity Fair; and The New Yorker could possibly give us the truth. Tina knew Diana personally and has far-reaching insight into the royals and the Queen herself.
In The Diana Chronicles, you will meet a formidable female cast and understand as never before the society that shaped them: Diana's sexually charged mother, her scheming grandmother, the stepmother she hated but finally came to terms with, and bad-girl Fergie, her sister-in-law, who concealed wounds of her own. Most formidable of them all was her mother-in-law, the Queen, whose admiration Diana sought till the day she died. Add Camilla Parker-Bowles, the ultimate other woman into this combustible mix, and it's no wonder that Diana broke out of her royal cage into celebrity culture, where she found her own power and used it to devastating effect. From the Hardcover edition.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tina Brown's long-awaited biography of Princess Diana is read by the author-a British legend in her own right. Brown's recital is colorful but limited by her rushed, occasionally slurred delivery, which detracts from her prose. The abridged version of the book hits the high notes of this lengthy bio, offering a condensed but worthwhile version of Diana's journey toward British royalty and her eventual tragic end. But as a reader, Brown hurries through even this shorter version, occasionally dropping syllables or speeding through phrases that are thus nearly incomprehensible. On other occasions, she carefully enunciates each syllable, emphasizing her British diction but rendering her reading more actress performance than nuanced reading. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (reviewed online). (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

"*Starred Review* Is this a total dis job? Does the former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker do a number on the late Princess of Wales, whom she counted as a friend? That is hardly Brown's intention; her well-researched, well-considered biography is responsible, eloquent, and honest. And if honesty means she calls things as she sees them pertaining to the increasingly darker aspects of Diana's out-of-control side, then Brown exhibits no hesitation in doing so. Her lack of trepidation in both crediting Diana for her accomplishments in her difficult role as wife of the heir to the throne and drawing negative conclusions about Diana's difficulties in performing that role achieves an understanding of Diana no author has reached before. Brown fathoms the needy girl never loved enough; she grasps the reasons for the collision of this outsider spirit with a royal family slow on the uptake in terms of today's omnipresent media and the rising cult of celebrity, which, in Brown's words, is now the coin of the realm. Diana knew how to manipulate the press, of course, but she had a tiger by the tail; if she let go of the media game she had created around herself, it could destroy her. Brimming with new information and insights, this book on the unfortunate Princess of Wales is not just for the season but will last for a long time to come."--"Hooper, Brad" Copyright 2007 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

ALL good journalism is really travel writing. You prepare for a serious story the way a foreign correspondent would. You buy the maps, you learn the language, you hang out with the locals - not just the taxi drivers! - and then you write. That's what Robert Frank has done. He writes the Wealth Report column for The Wall Street Journal. (Who writes the Euchred by Capitalism column, I wonder?) In his new book, "Richistan," he posits the existence of a little-known country within our country. This "parallel country of the rich" was once just a village, he argues, but now it's an entire nation. The data bear Frank out. It was a huge deal when John D. Rockefeller became the country's first billionaire. Adjusted for inflation, he had $14 billion - less than the net worth of each of Sam Walton's five children today. There were an estimated 13 American billionaires in 1985. Now there are more than 1,000. In 2005, America minted 227,000 new financial millionaires, men and women with more than $1 million in investible assets. There are as many millionaires in North Carolina as there are in India. And so on. Frank argues that the rich are "financial foreigners" within their own country. They have their own health care system, staffed by "concierge doctors." They have their own travel network of timeshare (or private) jets and destination clubs. For her birthday, one 11-year-old "aristokid" pleads to fly commercial, "to ride on a big plane with other people. I want to see what an airport looks like on the inside." Like an anthropologist in the Amazon basin, Frank goes native. Except instead of a loincloth, he dons a white tuxedo to attend the International Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach, where he meets "Jackie Bradley, a buxom blonde squeezed into a jewel-encrusted Joy Cherry gown." Bradley is chatting up her new book, "The Bombshell Bible." "It's really more about my inner life," she says. "I'm hoping to use it to help other women like me." And Frank learns the lingo. Most Richistanis earn their citizenship through a "liquidity event," when someone buys out their company, rather than through inheritance. Hedge fundies prowl the nether regions of Manhattan for trendy paintings, or "noncorrelated assets." "Affluent" is Richistani code for "not really rich." According to Frank, you need about $10 million to be considered entry-level rich. Frank also plumbs Richistan's secret status codes. You might have thought that a Mercedes SLK or a Rolex were flash possessions. Wrong! In Richistan, they are reverse status symbols. The affluent drive Mercedes; the rich drive Maybachs. Franck Muller hardly advertises their bejeweled watches, which top out around $600,000, because they might attract the wrong kind of attention. Like yours. If you experience status anxiety, this book isn't for you. You can't avoid the conclusion that everyone is a lot richer than you are, whether he deserves to be or not. Here's a guy, Ed Bazinet, who got rich making little ceramic villages with light bulbs inside them. How hard can that be? On a more reassuring note, it's nice to learn that the rich suffer status anxiety, too. When Richistanis are asked how much money would make them feel secure, they inevitably choose a figure that is double their own net worth. Because so many newly enriched entrepreneurs hail from middle-class backgrounds, they hate being called rich. Chauffeurs, for instance, are out. Rolls-Royce says 95 per cent of its customers drive the cars themselves. Tim Blixseth, the founder of the Yellowstone Club and other gated hideaways, tells Frank: "I don't like most rich people. They can be arrogant." This from a man who owns two Shih Tzus named Learjet and G2. As in Gulf stream G2. If you were rich, you would get it. These aren't people who spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. Because if they did, they would see, as Frank does, the contradictions behind their middle-class protestations and high-profile philanthropic ventures on the one hand, and their ordering alligator-skin toilet seats for their private jets on the other. Frank is not a flashy writer, but he is smart enough to let the material come to him. When he sits down with the inflatable-pool-toy magnate Simon Fireman for lunch at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fireman pulls "from his jacket pocket a two-page spreadsheet of all his charitable donations for over a decade, which he said I was free to publish." If "Richistan" is travel journalism, then ... do we want to go there? Not much. The people sound dreadful and not very happy, to boot. But consider the alternative. Frank gets a glimpse of the world outside when he attends Fort Lauderdale's International Boat Show, right after Hurricane Wilma has plowed through town. "Thousands of residents in the poorer sections of Fort Lauderdale (most of them black or Hispanic) were left homeless," Frank writes, "sweating through the tropical heat, without electricity." Meanwhile, at the Bahia Mar Marina, a chocolate fountain gurgled and the $20 million yachts and vendor pavilions were "perfectly chilled." Look out the window: It's Pooristan. Hmmm. I wonder who lives there. And will anyone be writing a book about them? For her birthday, one 'aristokid' asked to fly commercial, to 'see what an airport looks like from the inside.' Alex Beam is a columnist at The Boston Globe and the author, most recently, of "Gracefully Insane."


Guardian Review

Luckily, perhaps, Princes William and Harry appear to have inherited their family's ancestral indifference to books. It is on the press and television that they focus, writing recently to Channel 4 to complain about the documentary Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel : "a gross disrespect to their mother's memory". Memories of Andrew Morton, with whom their mother had colluded, may also explain why similarly pained - if futile - rebukes are rarely levelled at literary scavengers. Asked by the princes' secretary "if it were your or my mother dying in that tunnel, would we want the scene broadcast to the nation?", a Channel 4 executive might reasonably have replied that his intrusions were as nothing compared with the rogue psychiatry and whiffy speculation that has become almost standard in books about Diana, including such classy additions to the genre as Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles . In which we find the outgoing prime minister's exclusive reassessment (she taught us "a new way to be British") sharing the same capacious bucket as Brown's relentlessly smutty guesswork. "To keep her company," Brown leers, "there was always what she called 'Le Gaget', the tiny vibrator one of the staff bought for her in Paris as a joke." Like most of the Chronicles , the existence of "Le Gaget" was previously advertised in a first-generation Diana book (Ken Wharfe, 2003), already rifled by Sarah Bradford for her authoritative 2006 biography, Diana . Contrary to the claims of novelty circulating before publication, Brown's solitary contribution to the archives appears to be the disclosure that the teenage Diana once behaved like a carnivorous Goldilocks, picking all the meat out of her employer's stew. For the rest, Brown's novelties are confined to changes of emphasis, and to speculation, none of it enough to modify Bradford's compassionate portrait of a dreadfully isolated young woman, whose problems - once you appreciated the misery caused by her mother's exit and her stepmother's equally sudden arrival, the ghastliness of her entire family, and the fact that she was only 20 when Charles and his fellow conspirators started telling her she was mad - seem far from being of her own making. Then why - if it wasn't for the pounds 1m reason - did Brown volunteer for this massive anniversary cuts job? She has nothing illuminating to add, and seems neither to have liked Diana nor to have found her all that interesting. At Tatler magazine, edited by Brown at the time of the royal engagement, the uneducated princess was apparently considered a pitifully naive "sociological throwback", impressing Tatlerites only with the "tameness of her set". There was "no sign of Lady Diana Spencer or her ilk", Brown emphasises, at a party once attended by her own, much faster circle. "The definitive end-of-decade social event of the 70s was the riotously eclectic fancy dress party in Hampshire to celebrate the 40th birthday of Nicky Haslam, the fashionable decorator . . . 'You can always tell a gentleman by the quality of his drugs,' an exuberant Lord Hesketh told me as we stood in line for the buffet." Regrettably, Tina must break off here from her own, very promising, memoirs and return to translating Morton/Burrell/Jephson/ Bradford into a racier dialect that renders lovers "shag mates" ("today's terminology", she assures us), has Dodi's driver putting "the pedal to the metal", Charles preferring "gags over shags", and the effect of Diana's glamour on "cafe society" being to "turbo charge" it. Even the tragedy of Diana's later years evidently looks a little parochial, from Brown's demanding, transatlantic perspective. Maybe a sprinkle of Hollywood glamour? "While the world was thrilling to the spectacle of Diana's life as a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical," she writes about Highgrove, "her home life was becoming more like something out of Hitchcock. Under a King and I facade lurked a Rebecca -like sinister melodrama . . . the shadow of Rebecca is never far away." Just outside Chippenham, to be precise. For the benefit of American readers Brown includes a variety of topographical notes, possibly based on memory. "Gloucestershire", they learn, "has a very wet climate." For their part, English readers of this simultaneous translation are schooled in the significance of Diana's disco dance with John Travolta. Her arrival in Brown's world was "an iconic moment . . . There was a Hollywood dimension now to Diana's glittering fable of the shy girl who married a dashing prince." Not for the first time, an iconic photograph would be a bonus. But there are no pictures in the Chronicles , even though images of the acutely self-conscious Diana are, as Brown affirms, key elements in her story: "In an iconic photograph," she writes of the Diana- Hewitt polo trophy presentation, "their eyes meet. . ." Presumably Brown requires this austere, picture-free eminence from which to pour scorn on lowlier chroniclers - "the paps waited like hyenas" - without being labelled a flesh-eater herself. As for Diana's wretched complicity with her snappers, Brown explains that her father's fondness for amateur photography meant that "Diana grew up associating the camera with love". At the same time, the girl was reading too much Barbara Cartland, "leaving her spiritual bloodstream permanently polluted with saccharine". A diagnosis that may be as accurate as any of Brown's other apercus: "Gloucestershire people have to be one of two things - hunters or gardeners." Perhaps she was away for Fred West. Largely on the basis of his charming appearance, our expert concludes that in William, Diana's "legacy is in good hands". Really? Even though William's father is a helpless whiner, his grandmother a grimly repressed survivor and his Windsor grandfather a bully? His mother was abandoned, for life, by her own, twice- divorced mother (who finally turned to the bottle), humiliated by the palace post-divorce, after which she endured only romantic disappointment before being violently killed, whereupon 15-year-old William's uncle provoked a blood feud with his grandmother, and his father resumed, with indecent haste, his courtship of the woman who had haunted and tormented Diana all her adult life - and has since made this shameless creature into William's stepmother. Interviewed last week, Prince William said he thought about his mother's death every day. It would be like something out of Philip Larkin, if only it wasn't true. To order The Diana Chronicles for pounds 17.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875. Caption: article-diana.1 Asked by the princes' secretary "if it were your or my mother dying in that tunnel, would we want the scene broadcast to the nation?", a Channel 4 executive might reasonably have replied that his intrusions were as nothing compared with the rogue psychiatry and whiffy speculation that has become almost standard in books about Diana, including such classy additions to the genre as Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles . In which we find the outgoing prime minister's exclusive reassessment (she taught us "a new way to be British") sharing the same capacious bucket as Brown's relentlessly smutty guesswork. "To keep her company," Brown leers, "there was always what she called 'Le Gaget', the tiny vibrator one of the staff bought for her in Paris as a joke." Then why - if it wasn't for the pounds 1m reason - did Brown volunteer for this massive anniversary cuts job? She has nothing illuminating to add, and seems neither to have liked Diana nor to have found her all that interesting. At Tatler magazine, edited by Brown at the time of the royal engagement, the uneducated princess was apparently considered a pitifully naive "sociological throwback", impressing Tatlerites only with the "tameness of her set". There was "no sign of Lady Diana Spencer or her ilk", Brown emphasises, at a party once attended by her own, much faster circle. "The definitive end-of-decade social event of the 70s was the riotously eclectic fancy dress party in Hampshire to celebrate the 40th birthday of Nicky Haslam, the fashionable decorator . . . 'You can always tell a gentleman by the quality of his drugs,' an exuberant Lord Hesketh told me as we stood in line for the buffet." Regrettably, Tina must break off here from her own, very promising, memoirs and return to translating [Andrew Morton]/Burrell/Jephson/ [Sarah Bradford] into a racier dialect that renders lovers "shag mates" ("today's terminology", she assures us), has Dodi's driver putting "the pedal to the metal", [Charles] preferring "gags over shags", and the effect of Diana's glamour on "cafe society" being to "turbo charge" it. - Catherine Bennett.


Library Journal Review

Few modern women have been more adored, more loved, more photographed, and more written about than Princess Diana. Yet according to Brown, former editor in chief of Tatler magazine, "England's golden child" struggled with psychic scars from childhood emotional traumas that were impacted by life in the tabloid-driven fish bowl that is the British royal family. The author has brought her journalistic experience and extensive Rolodex of contacts to bear on the late princess; she reexamines the tumultuous life of the woman the world thought it knew. Brown's book depicts a Diana who is more than a porcelain saint; her collusions with the media proved to be her undoing. Her championing of the less-fortunate is juxtaposed with her treatment of her staff and stepmother alongside her mercurial relationships with her mother, her former sister-in-law, Fergie, and men, single and married. Along with her English accent and actress's timing, Rosalyn Landor brings a cadenced elegance to the reading that is further enhanced by her beautiful diction and rich dramatizations. Containing entertainment as well as some journalistic value, this gossipy tramp through a life picked over too much will be in demand; recommended to libraries with medium to large collections of pop culture and biography.-David Faucheux, Louisiana Audio Information & Reading Svc., Lafayette (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter Twenty The Last Picture Show Is she an angel? --Helena Ussova, aged seven, land-mine victim in Angola, January 1997 Diana never looked better than in the days after her divorce. Divestment was the name of the game, in her life and in her looks. The downsizing started with her Kensington Palace staff, which she reduced to cleaner, cook, and dresser. The assiduous Paul Burrell became maître d' of her private life, combining the roles of P.A., man Friday, driver, delivery boy, confidant, and crying towel. "He used to pad around listening to all," says a friend of Diana's mother. "I was quite sure his ear was pressed firmly to the key hole when I went to Kensington Palace for lunch." Diana reinforced her break with married life by stuffing a heavy-duty garbage bag with her entire set of Prince of Wales china and then smashing it with a hammer. "Make a list of everything we need," she told Burrell. "Let's spend a bit more of his money while we can." Diana now used police protection only when she attended a public event. Her favorite officer was Colin Tebbutt, who had retired from the Royal Squad. He was a tall, fair-haired matinee idol who was also a Class One driver, trained by the SAS. Tebbutt knew that by going to work for Diana he was effectively shutting the door to any future work with the Prince of Wales, but he had a soft spot for Diana. "There was always a buzz when she was at home. I thought she was beginning to enjoy life. She was a different lady, maturing." Tebbutt says she would always sit in the front of the car, unlike the other Royals, such as Princess Margaret, who called him by his surname and, without looking up from her newspaper, barked, "Wireless!" when she wanted Tebbutt to turn on the radio. "I drive looking in all three mirrors, so I'd say to Diana 'I'm not looking at your legs, Ma'am' and she'd laugh." The press knew the faces of Diana's drivers, so to shake them off Tebbutt sometimes wore disguises. "She wanted to go to the hairdresser one day, shortly before she died. I had an old Toyota MRT which she called the 'tart trap,' so I drove her in that. I went to the trunk and got out a big baseball hat and glasses. When she came out I was dripping with sweat, and she said 'What on earth are you doing?' I said, 'I'm in disguise.' She said, 'It may have slipped your notice, but I'm the Princess of Wales.' " Every Tuesday night, the Princess sat at her desk in her study at Kensington Palace, writing her steady stream of heartfelt thank-you letters and listening to a piano playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 and--her favorite--Manning Sherwin's "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." In the living room, Maureen Stevens, a clerk from the Prince of Wales's office, who also happened to be a talented concert pianist, gave Diana a weekly private recital as she worked. You can almost hear Stevens's piano rippling in the background as Diana writes a fulsome note to her close friend, Harper's Bazaar editor Liz Tilberis: "Dearest Liz, How proud I was to be at your side on Monday evening... so deeply moved by your personal touch--the presents for the boys, candles at the hotel and flowers to name but few but most of all your beaming smile, your loving heart. I am always here for you, Liz." Sometimes Diana would stop and telephone the Daily Mail's Richard Kay--"Ricardo," she called him--to help her with the phraseology of a letter. KP was her fortress. On warm summer afternoons, she vanished into its walled garden in shorts and T-shirt and her Versace sunglasses, carrying a bag of books and CDs for her Walkman. On weekends, when William and Harry were home, Burrell would see her in a flowing cotton skirt on her bicycle with the basket in front, speeding down the Palace drive with the boys pedaling furiously behind her. On her thirty-sixth birthday, in July, she received ninety bouquets of flowers and Harry gathered a group of classmates to sing "Happy Birthday" to her over the telephone. Diana's charity commitments were pared down from around a hundred to the six she most cared about: Centrepoint, the Royal Marsden Hospital, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, the English National Ballet, the Leprosy Mission, and the National AIDS Trust. The public announcement she insisted on reaped her unnecessary flak and the resignation of her media adviser, Jane Atkinson. But Diana had a reason for being explicit. She wanted to avoid situations where she was just a letterhead. "If I'm going to talk on behalf of any cause, I want to go and see the problem for myself and learn about it," she told the chairman of the Washington Post Company, Katharine Graham, at that time. There was a round of social purging. Lord and Lady Palumbo were excised after Peter's candid warnings about Martin Bashir. Elton John was in the deep freeze after acting as a go-between with Diana and Gianni Versace for the fashion designer's coffee-table book Rock and Royalty . (The pictures of the Princess and the boys appeared amid a portfolio of seminude male models, and Diana feared it would further annoy the Queen.) Sir Ronald Grierson was bounced after he made the mistake of offering a job to one of the many secretaries Diana froze out. And Fergie was back in Siberia, this time for good. The divorced Duchess had cashed in with an anodyne memoir, which was full of nice comments about her sister-in-law-- except for one fatal line. She wrote that when she borrowed a pair of Diana's shoes she had caught a verrucca--plantar's wart--from them. Goddesses don't get warts. Despite Fergie's pleading apologies, Diana never spoke to her again. In 1997, the Princess gave a birthday party for her friend David Tang and told him he could ask anyone he wanted. "Anyone?" he asked. "Anyone." "All right, then--Fergie." "Absolutely not," Diana replied, and would not be moved. A new and unexpected ally was Raine. In 1993, Diana had finally made her peace with her formidable stepmother. The painful years of separation and divorce from Charles made the Princess see her old adversary in a different light. Still grieving for Daddy, her greatest support, Diana was at last able to recognize that Raine had loved him, too. She invited her stepmother for a weepy reconciliation over lunch at Kensington Palace. For moral support, Raine brought along her fiancé, the French Count Jean François de Chambrun. The precaution turned out to be unnecessary. Afterward, the Princess and the Countess were often sighted deep in a tête-à-tête at the Connaught Grill. One of Raine's cautions was to try to stay on friendly terms with Charles for the sake of the children. She told Diana that both she--Raine--and her mother, Barbara Cartland, had maintained warm relations with all their former husbands and lovers. Diana also made an improbable friend of Katharine "Kay" Graham. They had met in the summer of 1994, when Lucia Flecha de Lima had brought Diana to Kay's beachfront house on Martha's Vineyard. Not long after that, Kay gave a luncheon for Diana and Hillary Clinton at her Washington home. At a British Embassy lunch on the same visit, Diana met Colin Powell again. He told her he had been nominated to lead her in the dancing at the gala that night to raise money for the Nina Hyde Breast Cancer Foundation. Scotland Yard had been worried that at a ball in Chicago earlier in the year a stranger had cut in on Diana's dancing partner. The General was deemed able to handle such an eventuality, but the Princess suggested she do a few practice spins with him in the Embassy drawing room. "She was easy with any melody, and we did all right in our rehearsal," says Powell. "She told me, 'there's only one thing you ought to know. I'll be wearing a backless dress tonight. Can you cope with that?' " Flirting with the big boys--what bliss! Diana thrived in America. "There is no 'Establishment' there," she told her fashion friend Roberto Devorik--wrongly, of course, but correct in the sense that America had no Establishment whose rules or members could possibly hurt her feelings. Richard Kay says she thought of America as "a country so brimming over with glittery people and celebrities that she would be able to disappear." Like her life, Diana's taste in fashion became pared down and emphatic after her divorce. "English style refracted through an un-English sensibility" was how Vogue's Hamish Bowles defined it. Her new evening dresses were minimalist and sexy, a look that had been taboo when she was an in-house Royal. "She knew she had great legs and she wanted to show them off," said the designer Jacques Azagury. She wore his stunning red bugle-bead tunic over a short pencil skirt in Venice in 1995 and his blue crystal-beaded cocktail dress six inches above the knee to another Serpentine gallery evening. Diana actually looked her best at her most informal. Jumping rangily out of her car for lunch with Rosa Monckton at the Caprice, wearing stone-washed jeans, a white T-shirt, a beautifully cut navy blue blazer, and bare feet in flats (she was usually shod in Jimmy Choo's black grosgrain "Diana" loafers), she was spectacular. Vanity Fair assigned the Peruvian-born photographer Mario Testino to capture her as she now wanted to be seen: a modern woman, active on the world stage--"vivid, energetic, and fascinating," in the words of Meredith Etherington-Smith, the former fashion editor who introduced Diana to Testino. When Meredith first saw Diana at Kensington Palace, she was astonished at how different she was from the formal, public Princess of old. Now she was "a tall, electrifying figure," wearing no makeup and "revealing the truest English rose complexion. Her hair, no longer a stiff helmet, free of lacquer and back combing, flew around her head like a dandelion in the wind." With her unerring sense of the dramatic, Diana timed Mario Testino's stunning shots to come out on the cover of Vanity Fair the same week as her decree absolute. Diana purged her closets of the past. She hated the sight of the froufrou'd and sequined relics of her roles as Princess Bride and Windsor Wife and Dynasty Di, embalmed in their suit bags. It was William's brain wave for her to auction off her old gowns for charity in New York, and Diana loved her son's creative notion. It would be at once a glorious psychic gesture to her new life and a boon to the charities she chose, the AIDS Crisis Trust and the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund. A royal rummage sale had never happened before. Most of the Windsor women, including the Queen, consign their old private-occasion items to a discreetly respectable resale shop in London's West End. Diana's auction would be a first. Old clothes are often suffused with the emotions of the wearer. Meredith Etherington-Smith, who also worked as creative marketing director of Christie's, was assigned by the auction house to help Diana choose and catalog the items. They sorted through Diana's gowns every morning for a month while Diana relived the occasions when she had worn them. "Out! Out!" she would cry, pointing at some star-spangled throwback, or "No! I can't bear to give up this one!" In and out of the catalog flew Victor Edelstein's oyster dinner dress with a strapless bodice encrusted with white bugle beads and matching bolero, which she had worn that elegant night at the Élysée Palace in Paris with President and Madame Mitterrand. "It was such a happy evening," she dithered. She had been afraid of the French being so chic, but she felt she had really pulled it off. She sighed over another Edelstein gown, an ink blue silk velvet creation. This was the dress in which she had wowed the world with John Travolta at the White House. She relinquished it in the end, knowing it would get the auction's top dollar. (An anonymous bidder snapped it up for $222,500.) In retrospect, wrote the fashion maven Suzy Menkes in the International Herald Tribune , all the high-glamour outfits of Diana's past looked "like a dress rehearsal for the little black number worn on the evening Prince Charles confessed his adultery on prime-time television." But now in the year after her divorce, relations with Prince Charles were on a nicely even keel, starting with that tea in July. The arrival in 1996 of Mark Bolland as Charles's assistant private secretary inaugurated an era of glasnost between the offices of the Princess and the Prince. Bolland was a shrewd go-to guy with a marketing background and a useful four years of experience as director of the Press Complaints Commission. He lived in the real world, not the Palace bubble. He owed his job to Camilla; he had come to Charles at the recommendation of her divorce lawyer, Hilary Browne Wilkinson. In spite of that--or more likely because of it--part of his writ was to end the War between the Waleses. It got in the way, he believed, of the necessary rebuilding of Prince Charles's image. Bolland's first act was to persuade Charles to fire his private secretary, Commander Richard Aylard, the facilitator of the Dimbleby fiasco, and rid the Prince's office of holdovers from the bitter years of marital competition. Nor was Bolland a fan of the undislodgeable Tiggy Legge-Bourke, sharing Camilla's belief that Tiggy spent a lot of her time "winding Charles up." Another positive augury, surely. Better than all of the above, however, was that Diana's love life had simplified in a wonderful way. In the fall of 1995, she had at last fallen for a man who was worthy of her affections, who wasn't married, and who reciprocated her feelings: the thirty-six-year-old Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.