In her own words 'You always think you're prepared for everything,' but she wasn't prepared for the royal family or the press, as she told the BBC in 1995 after her formal separation from Prince Charles.

September 07, 1997

Your Royal Highness, how prepared were you for the pressures that came with marrying into the royal family?

At the age of 19, you always think you're prepared for everything, and you think you have the knowledge of what's coming ahead. But although I was daunted at the prospect at the time, I felt I had the support of my husband-to-be.

What were the expectations that you had for married life?

I think like any marriage, especially when you've had divorced parents like myself, you'd want to try even harder to make it work, and you don't want to fall back into a pattern that you've seen happen in your own family.

I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team.

How aware were you of the significance of what had happened to you? After all, you'd become Princess of Wales, ultimately with a view to becoming queen.

I wasn't daunted and am not daunted by the responsibilities that that role creates. It was a challenge; it is a challenge.

As for becoming queen, it's ... it was never at the forefront of my mind when I married my husband: It was a long way off, that thought.

The most daunting aspect was the media attention, because my husband and I, we were told when we got engaged that the media would go quietly, and it didn't; and then when we were married, they said it would go quietly, and it didn't; and then it started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop. And I was very aware of that.

It's been suggested in some newspapers that you were left largely to cope with your new status on your own. Do you feel that was your experience?

Yes, I do, on reflection. But then here was a situation which hadn't ever happened before in history, in the sense that the media were everywhere, and here was a fairy story that everybody wanted to work.

Were you overwhelmed by the pressure from people initially?

Yes, I was very daunted, because as far as I was concerned I was a fat, chubby, 20-year-old, 21-year-old, and I couldn't understand the level of interest.

At this early stage in your marriage, what role did you see for yourself as Princess of Wales? Did you have an idea of the role that you might like to fulfill?

No, I was very confused by which area I should go into. Then I found myself being more and more involved with people who were rejected by society - with, I'd say, drug addicts, alcoholism, battered this, battered that - and I found an affinity there.

And I respected very much the honesty I found on that level with people I met, because in hospices, for instance, when people are dying, they're much more open and more vulnerable, and much more real than other people. And I appreciated that.

So you very much created the role that you would pursue for yourself really? That was what you did?

I think so. I remember when I used to sit on hospital beds and hold people's hands, people used to be sort of shocked, because they said they'd never seen this before, and to me it was quite a normal thing to do. And when I saw the reassurance that an action like that gave, I did it everywhere, and will always do that.

It wasn't long after the wedding before you became pregnant. What was your reaction when you learnt that the child was a boy?

Enormous relief. I felt the whole country was in labor with me. Enormous relief. But I had actually known William was going to be a boy, because the scan had shown it, so it caused no surprise.

Had you always wanted to have a family?

Yes, I came from a family where there were four of us, so we had enormous fun there.

And then William and Harry arrived - fortunately two boys, it would have been a little tricky if it had been two girls - but that in itself brings the responsibilities of bringing them up, William's future being as it is and Harry like a form of a backup in that aspect.

According to press reports, it was suggested that it was around this time things became so difficult that you actually tried to injure yourself.

Mmm. When no one listens to you, or you feel no one's listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen.

For instance, you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it's the wrong help you're asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you're in the media all the time you've got enough "attention."

The depression was resolved, as you say, but it was subsequently reported that you suffered bulimia. Is that true?

Yes, I did. I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease. You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.