LONDON — She is Britain's melancholy princess, Diana of the sorrows -- she of the moisty eyelashes and tilted, tousled head, the face that has triggered 10,000 camera shutters.
"I understand the pain she is going through," said divorcee Mary Hopkins to the Daily Mirror.
"Diana is so gaunt," reads the headline.
"I hope she hasn't got bulimia again," sympathized David Allen, to the same journal.
The Mirror has got the scoop on the latest rift between the royals. Last time it was the princess who purportedly was having secret rendezvous and intimate telephone conversations with other men, like James Gilbey, men eager to provide a shoulder on which to lay her head, figuratively, and pour out her Olympian misery.
Now "Dianagate" is yesterday's news, and the princess is forgiven, as she always is.
The focus today is on the other partner in the continuing saga. Charles, the sooner-or-later King of England, has something on the side. At least that's the message the Mirror is putting out these days, and getting a lot of credibility among the competition.
The Daily Express yesterday swallowed the story whole, put it on its front page and even credited its rival. The Express interviewed the husband of the other woman, a man named Andrew Parker Bowles, who directs the Royal Veterinary Corps and goes under the archaic designation of "royal courtier."
It's "pure fiction," he said, fending off the swarming paparazzi.
So who is this "other woman?" This vamp of the royal marriage of inconvenience? She whom the Prince of Wales reportedly calls up at odd and dark hours and sends "intimate gifts."
She is Camilla Parker Bowles, a friend from the polo fields of years gone by. She is, as one might expect, a woman quite distinct from the Princess of Wales.
For one thing she's not glamorous. A "friend" said of her: "She's never been to a hairdresser in her life . . . and she doesn't smile too much." She has an affection for horses.
Published pictures of her reinforce this description. Camilla Parker Bowles is 43, a matron of the Wiltshire country set. She is heavy faced, square jawed and has the wary eyes of a kick boxer.
For Charles, however, according to the Express, Camilla is "the only woman who really understands me."
To the ethereal Diana, flitting selflessly from AIDS clinics to drug treatment hostels to Third World charity affairs, she is "the Rottweiler."
That's what author Andrew Morton says she says, and nobody knows as much about the life of the Princess of Wales as he does. Mr. Morton, author of "Diana: Her True Story," revealed Diana's opinion of her rival in an addendum to his book. Camilla returns the compliment by describing Diana as "that ridiculous creature."
The two are not friends.
The latest scandal of the Waleses-- if that's what it can be called --follows a flurry of speculation growing out of a royal visit by the couple to South Korea, where they demonstrated for the 50 odd reporters sent along to watch their every move that they were still not a loving couple.
After Diana's return (the prince went on to Hong Kong) rumors gained currency that the couple had decided either to divorce or to lead separate lives.
Questions about the first were not entertained by Buckingham Palace. The second seemed only to describe things as they are.