ROYALS

Princess Anne’s big regret: ‘I failed Diana’

The royal wishes she hadn’t been so hard on her unhappy sister-in-law
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As far as sisters-in-laws went, Princess Anne and Diana, Princess of Wales, could hardly be called bosom buddies.

WATCH: Princess Anne’s scathing remark about Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson

Anne was 11 years older than her brother Prince Charles’ bride, and insiders say the gruff, direct, no-nonsense royal “struggled to deal” with emotionally charged Diana.

In fact, she would often sigh to friends that “wherever she goes, drama follows”.

Princess Diana Princess Anne
Princess Diana (left) and Princess Anne (right) were never the best of friends when Diana was alive. (Credit: Getty)

“It’s not really Diana’s fault that Anne never took to her,” tells an insider. “Diana was intimidated by her and Charles never made much of an effort to help his new wife bond with his sister.”

According to palace lore, Diana and Anne’s frosty relationship was sealed when the Princess Royal was overlooked as a godmother to Prince Harry, following his birth in 1984. Anne had fully expected to be a godparent to the Wales’ firstborn and future king, Prince William, but when she missed out, Charles assured her she would make the cut next time.

When the time came, she was snubbed again, with Diana’s best friend and old flatmate, Carolyn Bartholomew, being picked.

 “It caused a huge upset behind the scenes,” says the royal source.

Princess Diana Princess Anne
Diana’s death “really got to” Anne. (Credit: Getty)

A separate source tells New Idea that Anne very rarely made an effort to speak to Diana at family functions after that. Privately, she professed herself relieved when the Prince and Princess of Wales made the decision to separate in 1992.

“Anne was glad she wouldn’t have to put on fake friendliness and deal with what she called the tedium of Diana’s mood swings.”

Despite the tension between them, when Diana was killed in 1997, aged 36, royal insiders say Anne was “speechless” with shock and great sadness.

“Anne’s not one for shows of emotion. She’s like her mother in that way. But Diana’s death really got to her,” says a source. “Deep down she did regret not making more of an effort with her. Most people knew they weren’t on great terms, so the mourning period and funeral afterwards was tough on Anne.”

WATCH: Remembering Princess Diana (story continues below)

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This year, after it was revealed that Diana was coerced into giving her 1995 tell-all interview to the BBC’s Martin Bashir, Anne’s regret deepened.

“Like most of the royals at the time, Anne was very disgruntled by Diana going on-air and talking about how she had depression and how awful it was for her to be part of the family,” says a source. “She thought it was a big plea for public sympathy. But when it all came out that Diana had been conned, and how miserable she truly was, Anne was devastated. She worries that she failed Diana, who could have used a strong woman to support her.”

A source says Anne, 71, is “very hard on herself” over her “could have, should have, would have” feelings on Diana.

“She’s being too rough really – Diana’s happiness was not her responsibility – it was her husband’s. Anne was raising two young children of her own at the time, too, so she didn’t have time to be

at Diana’s beck and call,” says the source. “Diana never asked for her help, either. It all could have done with a little more communication between them both.

“If it had all turned out differently and Charles and Diana had worked, there’s no doubt Anne and Diana would have become close. Anne is far too dedicated to the monarchy to not serve the Queen, which Diana would have become.”

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