Tony Blair had barely unpacked at 10 Downing St. when he entertained Diana, princess of Wales, at the prime ministerial retreat of Chequers on July 6, 1997. There is even a picture commemorating the event. According to his newly released autobiography, it was there, on a tour of the gardens, that he warned the divorcée that her romance with Dodi Fayed, “was a problem. She didn’t like it and I could feel the willful side of her bridling,” he writes. “However she didn’t refuse to talk about it, so we did and also [about] what she might do.” Given he would famously refer to Diana after her death on Aug. 31 of that summer as the “peoples’ princess,” the section initially was seen only as a rather shocking breach of protocol—prime ministers, by tradition, do not talk about their interactions with members of the royal family. But now questions are being raised about whether Blair made up the warning. It turns out that on July 6 Diana hadn’t even met Dodi Fayed yet. That wouldn’t happen until at least July 20 and the relationship wasn’t public knowledge until August.
Perhaps even more damaging to Blair are his indiscretions towards the most senior royal of all, Queen Elizabeth II. Every week the PM sits down for an hour to talk to the Queen in utter confidence. No one else is in attendance and prime ministers never reveal what was said behind closed doors, beyond that they can talk to her about anything and know it will never be repeated. The confidence extended to both parties. So royal courtiers are understandably furious that Blair has spilled the beans in his biography. “Her Majesty has to be able to talk to her chief minister in confidence, without any sense of trepidation that her words might some day be retailed in a cheap and cheerful volume of memoirs,” one courtier told the Telegraph. “No prime minister before has ever done this and we can only hope that it will never happen again.”