Another princess and another plotline for the man who told Diana’s true story

He wrote the explosive book on Diana and now Andrew Morton has turned his sights on Will and Kate. He speaks to Sheena Hastings.

ON Friday, Andrew Morton will be one of the most in-demand of royal commentators, giving his opinion and the inside track on all things royal from a strategic perch on the route near Buckingham Palace to foreign networks from the Czech Republic to the Phillipines, from Italy to the US.

He has been “crazily busy” with interviews in the build-up to 29/4, too, as hundreds of millions of viewers around the globe are groomed to watch a British prince marry a woman whose credentials will no doubt be made out as almost Cinderella-like, in order to enhance the watchability of a “fairytale wedding”.

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After many hours in front of the cameras, journalist and author Morton will rush off to his publishers to complete the last 32 page of his latest royal book – William and Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding – which will be rushed into the shops for Monday, in what is expected to be a Guinness World Record-winning publishing feat, complete with the photos of the dress, the happy couple emerging from the Abbey, and the royal party in carriages. He’s not letting a bad dose of hayfever dampen his excitement.

“There seems to be even greater interest in this wedding than in Charles and Diana’s. I’m astonished at the scale of it,” says the 57-year-old. “Even here, interest is much greater than anyone had predicted. I think what’s happening is that the generation that watched the weddings of Diana and Charles and Andrew and Fergie is now jaded with it all, but there’s a new generation who were not around back then. They are interested in Will and Kate because they are a similar age and on some level identify with them. And the wedding of a future king and queen rarely comes along – the last time was 30 years and ago and the time before that was 1947.”

The book, for which he received no co-operation from Buckingham Palace, pulls together what’s known about Will and Kate so far plus extra material from unnamed friends of the couple. Morton has been told that no-one will know the dress designer’s name until it is announced after William himself has seen it at the front of the Abbey. And not even the BBC’s anchorman Huw Edwards has been given the full guest list, such is the security around the event.

Friends told him that the interruption to the nine-year romance happened three years ago “because William thought he could do better” and some of Kate’s circle were glad to “get her back”. Will quickly realised his mistake, say sources.

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A few tabloid pictures of his ex dressed to thrill and having a very good time reinforced that realisation. “He knew he didn’t want to risk losing her”, says Morton. The Dewsbury-born writer says part of the charm of Kate Middleton for the prince is the strength and stability of her family. “Whatever the pomp and circumstance that often surrounds him, at heart William Windsor is the insecure child of a divorce, who lost his mother in terrible circumstances when he was a teenager. The closeness of the Middletons and their tendency to act as a loyal and tightly-bound unit understandably holds great allure.” He goes so far as to venture that he would lay 50-1 odds on Prince Harry getting together with Kate’s 27 year-old sister Pippa.

The new book is Andrew Morton’s first venture into writing about the Royal Family since Diana – Her True Story: In Her Own Words, back in 1997, soon after the Princess’s death. That book was a new edition of Diana – Her True Story, the quasi-authorised biography he’d published in 1992, but with material added from transcripts of tapes Diana had secretly supplied to Morton. He had until that point not revealed any direct involvement from the Princess, although it was known that “friends and courtiers” had given him information. Morton says he had given the C90 tapes to his old university library in Sussex, to be kept locked up with his papers until after both his death and that of the Princess.

“I never expected that she would die before I did,” says Morton. “But she died young, and we then had long debates about whether it would be right to reveal the existence of the tapes. We decided to go ahead because it was my duty to write the actual words she said, her legacy.” Despite the widespread vilification he attracted – including choice comments from Sir Bob Geldof that Morton was a “loathesome creep” who wanted to “gorge on the memory” of the woman who had handed him his wealth – the book sold well, but not in the same quantities as that first one, which had blown the lid off the Waleses’ marriage – tantrums, jealousies, Charles and Camilla, bulimia, depression, the way “the firm” ignored the ongoing situation and Diana’s own extra-marital affairs.

Fourteen years later, Morton is still unapologetic. “I believe I acted honourably. All the money (from the second book) went to victims of landmines in Angola. Both parents had unburdened themselves years before, with Prince Charles saying the most hurtful things. I don’t think my books added to the hurt for William and Harry. I also genuinely believe that it helped many thousands of people around the world who also suffered from bulimia.” Before the Diana books, Morton had been a tabloid royal reporter then authored several books about royal palaces, the Royal Family and their wealth and Sarah Ferguson. Since the Diana books, his subjects have included the Beckhams, Monica Lewinsky, Kenyan president Daniel Arup Moi and actors Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie.

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The millionaire author had already turned his attention back to the House of Windsor when Kate and William’s engagement was announced. A couple of books written about the engagement didn’t sell well, he said, so he set about telling the whole story up to and including the wedding day. The picture he gleaned from the couple’s days at St Andrews University reveals that “Socially, Kate was punching above her weight and could cope. She was known as ‘the beauty’ around the campus and their relationship, once started, was protected by a tight circle of William’s friends. Those friends are, interestingly, generally from the squireachy and lesser aristocracy, not the sons and daughters of great noble houses.”

Morton believes there is good chance that William and Kate’s relationship will stand the test of time and royal duty. “One hopes so, yes. The difference between them and Charles and Diana is, apart from the fact that Kate is nearing 30 and Diana was 20, Charles and Diana only spent a few days together during their courtship. Charles was being nudged towards marriage by his family, and married someone he didn’t particularly love, although he vowed to make a go of it. At least these two have chosen each other – and Will could have had his pick of many women – and they have had a chance to road test their relationship properly.

“They will also, like the Queen and Prince Philip did in Malta, start out first and foremost as a Service couple. They seem to have worked out how to have privacy when they want it – even to the point of driving off anonymously with their helmets on on William’s Ducati motorbike.”

For a period before the engagement, headlines concerning “Waity Katie” were beginning to turn sour, says Morton. “She was starting to attract negative comment, seen as just a pretty socialite relying on the bank of mum and dad. But I believe Kate has hidden depths apart from the obvious qualities of patience, loyalty and caring deeply for William. She has not achieved anything of note in her own right yet, though, and at some point people will want to see the right stuff in her. I think she will prove herself, and in the shorter term, I predict she will be pregnant this time next year and the first child will be a girl whose name will include Diana.”

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After Friday’s tour de force, Andrew Morton’s next publishing adventures will concern writing the biography of veteran US broadcaster Pat O’Brien and a book about the Spanish royal family – whose heir to the throne Prince Felipe married a “commoner” TV journalist some years ago. Morton says William and Kate are wary of the “f-word” – “fairytale”, a tag overused on a certain wedding day 30 years ago.

“Kate and her family have done everything right so far, and the couple clearly love each other. Kate is no Diana, she will not cause ripples. She is more of a Sophie Rhys-Jones – a great favourite of the Queen. Diana would, I think, have been pleased to see her son marry a girl like Kate.”

William and Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding by Andrew Morton will be published by Michael O’Mara on Monday, May 2. To order a copy from the Yorkshire Post Bookshop for £20 plus postage and packing call 0800 0153232 or go to