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Shadows of a Princess - An Intimate Account by Her Private Secretary - P. D. Jephson

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      09.10.2001 23:46
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      With friends (or rather an employee) like Patrick Jephson, who needs enemies. That's my opinion having read his longwinded self-opinionated exercise in pomposity. Perhaps I am being unfair as I have to say I find even his photograph offensive, but I'll try to explain why I have reached this decision anyway. Patrick Jephson, to those of you who don't know, was Princess Diana's one and only private secretary. He resigned supposedly as a result of her interview on Panarama which she had the audacity to do WITHOUT REFERENCE to him. It seems however that had he not resigned he would have been sacked anyway as apparently Diana sent him abusive messages on his pager - if we are to believe him. His book he tells us is an attempt to throw the light on Diana's complex character and he of course feels he is just the fellow to be able to do this. What amazes me is the fact that before the book came out I distinctly remember Jephson stating that he felt the Palace and indeed the Princes Harry and William would find nothing distasteful in his writing. One page into the book however and we find that Diana enjoyed crude and disgusting jokes, watched pornography, poked fun at her subjects behind their backs and was wilful and self obsessed. We later learn she possessed a pink vibrator, although we are assured it was never used (how does he know this) - surely the Princes wouldn't find that upsetting! ! ! Patrick Jephson(P.J.as he calls himself)tells the reader nothing that any normal intelligent person wouldn't have surmised by themselves. Of course most people knew Diana was human, and not many of us really believed she was saintly. Her popularity (in my own view) lay in her normality - and that included her not being very nice at times. We are informed that Diana was a manipulative and unkind employer (he should try working for the NHS), her demands were excessive in that she called him on his mobile morning n
      oon and night (doesn't that go with the nature of the job) and he seems to have been particularly rankled when she called him when he was drinking with his many cronies. To add insult the injury, this book is so badly written. It is boring and pointless. One word is never used when at least three or four will do and sentences are so long they often have to be read at least twice to understand the point the writer is trying to make. To my mind Diana quite rightly did not trust her Private Secretary. He appears to have been privvy to very little in the way of her private romantic life, merely telling his readers that Will Carling used to irritate him as he would flirt with the tyists in Kensington Palace (this is the K.P.part). He didn't have a lot to do with James Hewitt and his inside view of the royal marriage is so limited he is unable to tell the reader anything that couldn't be gleaned from newspaper coverage. Patrick Jephson seems to view himself as some kind of amateur psychologist - weighing up people and personalities in the most pompous and unkind way. He obviously has no scruples and freely admits to watching his colleagues (Ken Wharfe the detective in particular) being axed without having the strength of character to mutter even the slightest dissention at their treatment. I avidly read any books on the Royals although I am not a royalist by nature. I just feel it is important to know as much as possible about the history of our times. Patrick Jephson however sheds no light on his subject. As stated, his writing is mediocre to crassly poor, and he is boring and egotistical. He also takes great pains to tell the reader of the many Diana speeches he wrote which she apparently took the credit for. We hear about the Tiggy legover debacle.......what a childish load of nonsense and Diana's churlishness over Charles many overtures of kindness - obviously Jephson needs to keep well in with the
      living........they may well sue. Read it if you must - it will certainly add pennies to his nasty little back pocket, but if you want to conserve your energy just give this book a miss. 500 pages of drivel Published by Harper Collins and costing now in the region of £12.99 Do yourself a favour and spend your money on something else. As in my title P.J. at K.P is F.A. (I'll leave that to your imagination).

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        14.07.2001 17:47
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        The problem about reading books about leading female figures is that women generally write them. A women’s slant on their fellow sex so to speak tends to be over positive and bias rather than the male more cutting approach on either sex. The author of this one was closer to Diana and perhaps projects a more intelligent view on her over the obsequious so called friends, or the vitriol seething haters who write most books.I tend to be negative on her like most guys,but in here there is something’s positive didn’know. The 11oclock shows Ricky Chervais called big royal occasions like weddings as cup finals for women and gays. Diana had pretty much those demographics, so clearly demonstrated at her funeral.I can understand why depressed women and men off questionable sexuality could be drawn to this enigmatic vein /conceited gal,but not the embarrassing spurious grief that effected the country. The guys at the funeral were mostly designated drivers and bought 25 pound bouquets as they stepped over homeless people.I suppose that’s where I have a problem. What was grating about that week was the way the press tried to make out that we were all devastated by here death.most people I know were shocked, but not sobbing in the streets. What I like about this book is that there is an opinion from both sides with sycophant comment as well as critique. Living in Northamptonshire, Diana’s dynasty was evolved here and the Earl is occasionally seen around town. I do think his rousing speech at the Abbey was a little disingenuous when he slagged the media for her demise. At the time he was working for Hello magazine in South Africa with journalist stamped on his temporary visa!. He was up to his old tricks in the press today saying that Charles has yet to visit her island grave. Well Charlie was the one who bent over backwards to keep Di out of the Fulham mortuary care of our cold queen. Charles and the Earl
        and most of Althorpe village no full well that the Princess of Wales is buried in the family crypt. The island in the family grounds is just a money-spinner to bail out his pathetic debts caused by him running the house down. Ticket sales are rank at the moment, hence the cutely timed publicity stunt today in the Mail.Charles may not have loved Diana, but he’s not as blatant as foppy Earl Spencer. Well with my personal animosity aside over the waste of space women, the book proved to be quite intelligent and thought provoking. Especially as it stretches the “arranged marriage”senario that was quite clearly in operation long before the 81 wedding. I kind of feel sorry for her when she didn’t realize that Camilla was on the scene and that he would be sharing the two. But she did marry him for his position and wealth, rather than true love.I presume there are only about 300 girls pretty enough with the right lineage that can wed Charlie. Camilla had one requirement, but not the other. I think its fair to say it was a political wedding back in riot war torn 1981,let alone the Falklands war and depression. Cads like Hewitt and Gilby are the worse kind of predatory men who find of gullible dizzies like Di.Then again you cant blame her if her husband is having dirty phone calls with the women he loves. If only she hadn’t died in a juxtaposition of irony,I reckon she would have matured fast in her later years. Or maybe her extreme vanity wouldn’t be able to handle crows feet and cellulite. The first royal plastic surgeon. The biog goes into her ambivalent invidious relationship with the media and how she used the papers to further her ego. Prearranged photo calls for maximum publicity one day,to press intrusion the next.I especially like the house maids tale of Diana lining up the tabloids every morning to see who had the most flattering and unflattering shots.The next week the ones with the wors
        e shots would mysteriously get the best one. The book tries hard to present Diana’s positive side but struggles hard. I’m sure she did some good and bad charity work. These midnight rendezvous and home visits certainly helped both parties bruised egos and state of health. She was never really the woman of the people though and I don’t think she ever went out of her way to make a difference.I so wanted her to be different like everyone else.She had a nice smile and a better dresses sense,but at the end of the day she was another vacuous uppity who drowned in her vanity. Theres plenty about that sensational woman scorned panorama interview, and the amount professionally she contributed. She even had a say in the final cut and ordered extra noddies. These are when you nod your head at the end of the recording and then cut them in appropriately. Maybe if someone could have got hold of her and pointed in the right direction about then, she would have been a really cool girl. Her looks were starting to fade and I feel that was her biggest problem then, and no longer her asset. What’s interesting about these books is how the information leeks out to put them together, and lots of it. Even her so called “rock”, butler Paul Burrel and staff were ripping her off. Superficial is not the word to describe the people who surround women like Diana who wants some of it to rub off. All the time she trusted Burrel, he was itemizing her stuff to nail under his floorboards (allegedly of course). Once the last shovel of dirt thudded against the coffin (she’s in the family crypt really you know), he’s was down to the porn brokers to make some coin. The book clearly points out that she was surrounded by the wrong hangers on, and wouldn’t hesitate to take out a suitable dagger and plunge it in. But are these people drawn to her, or vice versa. Prince Charles people come in for some hea
        vy stick by the female author. This book is anti man in the sense that the guys closest to her have manipulated and deceived. The author doesn’t seem to expand on her culpability and naivete in the dizzy circles she was now turning in. Prince Charles had no right to lead her on to a wedding and was an absolute coward to go ahead with the wedding could Mrs Thatch and his mom told him to. A man this week should never be king. Theres a chapter on Dodi and the publicity stunt summer romance that proved to be her downfall. The author and me both agree that theres no way she would ever marry a playboy Muslim. Especially as he helped produce Honey I shrunk the Kids. Again you cant help thinking that Diana was on the cusp of being a really women once she hit the big 40.I know she represents all women’s insecurities and fragility’s with a similar love of shopping therapy. Maybe she’s up in heaven with the AIDS patients, or maybe the Versace on Specter Street It’s a samey perspective on Dis life and has little more to offer than Andrew Morton or all the TV documentaries together.I know my opinions are not everyone’s cup ot Earl Gray,but at least dooyoo gives me the oppurtuniy to have my say.Not many people were during that traumatic week.

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          03.05.2001 20:37
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          I was reluctant to read this book as it seemed to me just another 'nobody' trying to jump on the bandwagon of Diana's fame. I certainly would not go and buy it but one day l was at my sister's house and noticed she had a copy. It turned out that she had been given it as a christmas present some time earlier and hadn't read it. So l said l would read it (out of pure curiosity). It is written Diana's Private Secretary, P.D. Jephson. He was with her from 1987 to 1996. A long time for someone who, if reading the book is to be believed is so disgruntled with her and his life in her service. This book, Jephson claims, is to tell the truth about Diana as he was 'Diana's closest aid and adviser during her years of greatest public fame and deepest personal crisis', rooted in unique first hand experience, it is the most authoratative, balanced account we will ever have of a woman who became an icon yet remains a contradictory enigma'. (not my words, quoted from the books jacket). This book tells of how Mr Jephson (we'll call him Patrick from here on in) landed the job of equerry in 1987 when he was in the Navy working in a submarine to his resignation in 1996 as her only Private Secretary. This was a item of question to Patrick as he said that if you were out of favour with Diana then she would enforce your resignation by ostracising and generally making you life miserable. 'I Knew my shelf life was akin to that of the organic yoghurt with which the KP fridge was so well stocked', he said. He recieved text messages on his pager saying 'The boss knows about your disloyalty' and the like. According to Patrick these were from Diana herself, to undermine his position. In his inital post he had a position as equerry and shared an office within Kensington Palace and would help to sort out Diana's mail and assist in the arranging of her schedule. When he was promoted,
          however, his job became much more strenuous. He had to actually organise official overseas tours and arrange all the paraphenalia that went with them alongside all the work needing doing in K.P. This included receeing everything that the Princess would do, so he would go ahead of Diana and check every minor detail. Another of his jobs was to help to write her speeches, this was one occasion where Diana's generosity showed itself as after one such occasion she sent him a gift of a very expensive pair of cufflinks with the message 'Dear Patrick, Something very small to thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into the Turning Point speech. I can't begin to tell you how much l appreciated your help, Diana'. This was something she did on a regular basis to all her staff. The book tells of many recees, of Patrick going off to visit other countries, such as Egypt. If he is to be believed Diana was a very contrived individual and every move she made was 'for the camera and on cue'. Her natural ease with people seemed to be a thorn in Patricks side (to me) and he talks of visits to hospitals and as soon as the cameras were on out came the doting Diana. This seems to me to be a little strange being as it is now known that she visited hospitals many many times privately, how can that be considered contrived. Patrick tells of how Diana was sometimes childish, frivolous (who wouldn't be if they had vast sums of money to spend) and just plain mean in places. Now my personal opinion is that anyone who is under the enormous pressure that she was would be sure to have a lot of conflicting emotions. She was treated appallingly by her husband, and that in itself is enough to make even the most well-balanced individual show signs of strain. Most of this book is a put down to a Pricess who is no longer here to retaliate and defend herself. He pictures Diana as a selfish materialistic and brattish ty
          pe person, with only two things on her mind, herself and her children. To whom he says she was the truly devoted mother she appeared to be. My opinion of this book would be not to bother to read it. It does not serve any real purpose only to let us know that there are people in this world that see an opening and, no matter who it hurts (her beloved boys for example), take full advantage of it. If this man were genuine in what he is saying then why did he not publish this book when the Princess was alive. Afraid of the law suits perhaps? Patrick tells in a epilogue at the end (where else would it be?) about how he was accidently flying over Althorp after Diana's untimely death and was taken aback to see her grave 'Even at this height it gave me a jolt' he said remembering how he strained to glimpse her coffin in Westminster Abbey. He did'nt seem to be too keen on her when she was alive so why would it matter to him. I was right outside the abbey on that fateful day and the tide of emotion and sadness was something l will never forget. It was a very strange feeling because as much as you wanted to see the funeral courtage when it came alongside you could not look at it as it was too much to bear. Yes you're right l was and am a Diana fan, even to the point of briefly corresponding with her during her life. I really see little point in, whether true or not, trying to slur the good name of such a well loved and beautiful person. Isn't it better for us as a nation to remember her as we saw her. If its the truth that this book gives us, so what, who wants it? certainly not me.........Just leave me in my ignorance, thankyou very much. In Conclusion l think my initial comments are correct in that this is just another 'nobody' trying even after the 'somebody' has died to make a 'buck' in the name of literature.

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            06.03.2001 04:08
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            You already know the story of the princess and the pea. This book is the story of the princess and the penile substitute. Or rather - for fear I might have made you want to read it - one paragraph tells that short, sadly pointless story. The rest is about the princess and a pea-brained employee who fawned on her, forgave her trespasses, cried for her and now seeks to profit from defaming her. Back, however, to the dildo. Diana, Jephson breathlessly confides, returned from Paris in 1992 sporting a souvenir - 'a large, pink, battery-powered vibrator'. By now she knew she'd never get her hands on an orb or sceptre: this plastic knob would have to do. It had 'the aim', Jephson notes with courtly tact, 'of raising royal morale at critical moments'. But he denies that it was actually aimed at the critical royal part, and insists it was 'never used for its designed purpose'. Eventually Dodi assumed the role of royal morale-booster, which made the cheeky pink chap redundant. Meanwhile, it's curious that Diana should have felt she needed this bulbous, buzzing personal attendant. After all, she already had Jephson, who was her private secretary during the decade covered by his book, and he saw himself as a dildo in a pin-stripe suit. When he took the job, a courtier seasoned in sycophancy warned him: 'To these people you're just a toy. They'll wind you up and watch you whizz all over the place, then they'll throw you away and get another one.' Jephson prided himself for a while on being Diana's 'current favourite toy', and even aspired to function as a marital aid - rather than a bureaucratic aide - for the estranged Waleses. A few days after Diana acquired the dildo, Jephson smarmed into Charles's office to remind him: 'I joined this household to serve both Your Royal Highnesses.' But Charles had mentally metamorphosed himself into a snuggly sanitary pad, and Jep
            hson's ministrations could hardly be counted on, since his batteries were starting to go flat. He resigned in 1996, petulant about Diana's secret Panorama interview. That, at least, is how he tells it. In fact, Diana executed him electronically by sending him a malevolent anonymous message on his pager. Jephson could no longer claim to be her best-beloved toy, her faithful and indefatigable stand-by; she had reduced him to the size of the transistorised gadget which stirred to life in his trouser pocket. Life, alas, would never be quite so vibrant again. Jephson piously professes to regard Diana as 'a global force for good', though his account of her kills the poor woman all over again. The charities she adopted, he makes clear, were excuses for foreign junkets; she used public money to subsidise her career as an 'independent celebrity'. Her temper was vile, her humour crude, and her laugh asinine. Jephson, impeccably proper, winces when her braying reaches 'the delicate ears of outsiders such as Queen's Flight crews'. Despite her global frolics, Diana hadn't the foggiest about the destinations to which her private planes - jet-propelled vibrators, if you come to think of it - were headed. At the White House just before the Gulf War, George Bush père asked her about the invasion of Kuwait. The opinion she vouchsafed was a meditative 'Um'. Jephson rejoices in her embarrassment, but reserves his haughtiest outrage for a more clandestine vice, her addiction to chocolate. 'I frequently watched her eat a whole bar of fruit-and-nut between engagements,' he reveals, and pauses to listen to us gasp. He is slavishly discreet, by contrast, about the elder Windsors, who are alive and liable to sue. Reneging on his contract to supply title-tattle, he opaquely paraphrases their dialogue. Charles, infuriated by Diana's refusal to spend a weekend at Sandringham, expressed his annoyance - Jephson i
            nforms us - 'in blunt and peremptory tones'. We are left to imagine the four-letter words the heir actually used. The evasion is characteristic of this cowardly book, too hyprocritically high-minded to get down to its job of scandal-mongering. Though he disdains his mistress, Jephson has a lofty opinion of himself. Describing how he supported Diana against her detractors at St James's Palace, he positively glows as the memory of his chivalry: 'If all this sounds rather overprincipled, then it probably was.' He admires the Queen's stoical immunity to emotion, and boasts of sharing it: between them, they uphold 'so many of the great British strengths which had withstood all the tests that Empire and war could bring'. He is also deeply, nauseatingly religious. When Diana jabs him with that message on his pager, he 'told nobody of my agonised thoughts except God. He had heard most of it before'. Now, thanks to Jephson's book, God generously shares this privileged information with everyone who reads a tabloid. Unplugged by the princess, Jephson apparently 'decided to take up writing'. He had served his apprenticeship ghosting thank-you notes for Diana, so he is proficient at ornately arranging clichés. She and Charles, exchanging insults, remind him of pots and kettles. She wants to have her cake and eat it, while sipping from a poisoned chalice. Jephson adds a pinch of salt when she gossips about her adulterous in-laws. For a while, she rides the crest of a wave, though a straw finally breaks the camel's back. Sometimes, Jephson makes his catchphrases copulate. Thus the last meeting between the separate staffs of the Waleses is 'the merest fig leaf, the fag end of a process'. Just try to picture that: a fag posing as a fig. The vibrator rears its pert head on page 267. Otherwise, there is no reason at all to read this empty, imperceptive and crassly opportunistic book.

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            An intimate account of Diana penned by her private secretary.