“Mars was a one woman dynamo. She had a heart the size of the universe. There were no airs and graces, and she achieved what many deemed impossible
– single-handedly orchestrating Princess Diana’s last trip to Australia,” says close friend, Studio 10’s showbiz reporter Craig Bennett.
In 2017 Craig interviewed his long-time friend Marie for Studio 10, and her candid revelations made news around the world.
“Marie then asked me to write her memoir. The story of her first meeting a shy Diana in 1983 at an afternoon tea in Maitland to their reconnection in Sydney in 1996 is astounding."
WATCH: Scared Diana's 'tense' interview with Charles
“When it was confirmed Diana was coming to Australia in the ’80s, a huge behind-the-scenes power-play erupted, with everyone including then NSW Premier Neville Wran trying to wrestle control of the project away from Marie,” Craig tells New Idea. “It was dirty and ugly.”
“The drama of the Machiavellian machinations almost ruined Marie’s marriage. It was like something out of The Bold and the Beautiful. But Marie was always heartened Diana stuck by her. Diana was aware of what was going on.”
“It got so nasty, Marie was ousted from the royal motorcade, but Diana insisted Marie ride with her.”
Hundreds of faxes and letters flew between Marie, Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, all of which Marie kept under lock and key. “There were also many hours of late-night phone calls, with Diana pouring out her heart.”
Craig says: “When Marie asked me to write her book, we had a long lunch and she showed me the correspondence. Beautiful notes from Diana, and many with eye-popping revelations."
“Diana confided her life was a torture. It was a marriage from hell. How she longed for a normal life. The saving grace being her boys, William and Harry.”
Craig also says Marie told him the love of Diana’s life was heart and lung surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan.
“When I asked her about rumours of skulduggery surrounding Diana’s death, Marie froze. She refused to comment on speculation it may have been murder. But what she didn’t say spoke volumes.”
“At one point, Marie was offered almost $2 million for her ‘Diana dairies’ – but she’ll now take those secrets to the grave with her.”
For more, see this week’s New Idea – out now!