Andrew Morton on Diana, The Crown and His Book on the Queen

T saidThe first thing Andrew Morton did when he heard that Queen Elizabeth II had died was to grab a black tie. The royal historian—who has written about the British royal family for more than 40 years—knows she’ll have a busy week of publicity before the when the 70-year-old king’s reign ended with his death on September 8.

“Even though it’s expected, mentally and emotionally, you think he’s unstoppable,” he said of his reaction to the news. “So there’s that element of shock, and then you move.”

Morton left the UK 10 years ago and, like his subjects Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, calls California home. Meanwhile, he said he was back in London covering the historic event for ABC News and that Britain had entered a period of national mourning as the monarchy went into an era. again with King Charles III at its helm.

“You know how grateful people are to the fact that they’re willing to line up for 12 hours to honor him,” Morton said, adding that he saw the closure of this The main chapter is an opportunity to bring forward the publication of its new material. book, The Queen: Her Lifefrom next year until 15 Nov.

Morton has written 13 books about the royal family, but finds that he will always be defined by one act. Diana: Her true story, a 1992 “unauthorized, authorized biography,” as Morton calls it, of the Princess of Wales five years before her death. The book was written with secret recordings from Diana that she made during her life and gave to Dr. James Colthurst, her friend and intermediary, to go to Morton. It wasn’t until after Diana died in a car accident in 1997 that Morton revealed that this was the exact reason for his work. He began to publish a new version that was informed by the late queen’s voiceovers. Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words.

Now, Morton’s book will appear as a plotline in season 5 of Netflix The Crown, premiering November 9, as viewers discover the backstory of the best-selling biography series. The author spoke with TIME about his views on the future of the monarchy, the legitimacy of The Crown, and whether he’s reading Prince Harry’s forthcoming message Except.

TIME: The Queen is a figure that everyone knows very well. What is your new book retelling his story?

Andrew Morton: It’s taking the entire story today and trying to give a little of my own perspective after writing and watching the royal family for 40 years. I’m sharing some of my experiences, my conversations with people who worked with him, and I think it’s a well-rounded film—but I’ll say it that way, won’t I?

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Read more: The death of Queen Elizabeth II is an opportunity to examine the modern day effects of Britain’s colonial past.

Is this what I am writing about in preparation for the king’s death?

I’ve picked up bits and pieces over the years, little stories here and there because you never stop working. The work began with the idea to write about Elizabeth and Margaret, which was my first book. That’s what I thought of the Queen. After doing most of it [the royals], I think I can do the “high lady,” as Diana called her. The reign is beginning and terrible things are happening. In fact, I think he’s in it himself – the leadership he’s shown during COVID-19 has been remarkable. That speech he made was probably one of the most powerful speeches he made in his 70 years.

Now that we have the full picture, what would you say is Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy?

Inheritance changes in continuity. It’s his [oldest] The grandson is happily married with three children, well educated by the Queen, and has followed in her footsteps. His legacy is also enduring, and we can see how much he will soon lose. It shows you how unstable our world is, that a nation like Britain, which is supposed to be strong and fair-minded and rational, will soon collapse.

You’ve dedicated most of your career to the royal family – what do you like about them?

You begin to appreciate the monarchy as a moving target. It is not a fixed thing. The Queen has changed her dark years. Watch how the monarchy transitions from elegance—white handbag, white gloves, no touching—to transition with its people.

Having written about so many royal families in so much detail, which one intrigued you the most?

No matter how many books I write for the rest of my days, I will always be remembered for one book, Diana’s book. And for this amazing story you will find The Crown, the future Queen is in a secret conspiracy with someone she doesn’t know—me.

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Read more: As King Charles III sets out to win hearts and minds, the royal faces his darkest chapter yet.

When did you find out you were showing up for the new season of The Crown?

They used me as a consultant for that time almost two years ago. I’ll have a conference call with eight reporters, and they’ll ask specific questions like, “What color is your daughter’s wallpaper?” Because I used his bedroom as an office for a while. But they kept their card safe and didn’t involve me in the writing process. They just wanted specifics.

And how true to life do you feel about the season?

According to one in the know, the true and fair parts are the least flattering for the royal family, and the manufactured parts are not so bad. I have a feeling that the part about me is probably the most true because you don’t have to exaggerate. It’s an amazing story. Here is a rare woman who speaks in public and reveals the secrets of her heart, her problems in the royal family, celibacy, and her feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Read more: The True Story Behind Martin Bashir’s Controversial BBC Panorama Interview With Princess Diana The Crown

Do you think encouraging Diana to record those tapes was the right thing to do?

of course. I am very proud Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words. He told his story in an engaging, honest, and loving way. The book is 30 years old, and has been described as a new culture book. What many in the royal world knew but kept quiet about was revealed to be a lie and a secret.

On the subject of books, you’ll be reading Prince Harry’s memoir Except?

I am reading. Harry has every right to talk about his life in the royal family and his decision to leave. He is not the first person in history to do so. I’ll just take you back to Edward VIII, who wrote A Royal Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor, which angered the Queen Mother, who always blamed him for her husband’s sudden death, and angered King George VI, his brother. There are others The Heart Has Its Reasons: The Memoirs of the Duchess of Windsor by Wallace Simpson, and the current King Charles masterpiece by Jonathan Dimbleby, The Prince of Wales: A Biography, where he talks about his sexuality, and attacks his mother for being distant and his father for bullying.

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Diana always wanted Harry to be a wingman to William, not an assassin, so it will be nice to see the book in the royal family. But if the king cannot survive a book written by a former member of that school, then it should not continue. Many things are alive, but they are alive Except.

What kind of king do you think King Charles III is?

Charles will not be remembered for his longevity as King, as he probably had 25 years at most. So people look at his other sides. Climate change is one cause, and those close to him talk about his role as a convener, as an administrator, as opposed to an agitator. You can see him, for example, summarizing an international conference held at Buckingham Palace. Also, unlike her mother, she loves music, culture, and art. As the Prince of Wales, he often goes to the art galleries at night—and so I think he must be the king of culture.

Do you think the monarchy will stay the same as it changes face?

For the last few years, there has been a lot of debate about the Commonwealth, the future of the monarchy, the division of the royal houses – what will happen to the House Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, and so on – it’s been held out of respect for the Queen. , now that he is gone, King Charles III will use the experiences he has made over the years to correct aspects of it.

For example, what will they do with Kensington Palace now that William and Catherine have moved out? Should it be made into a royal gallery or a government building? What will they do with Prince Andrew? The Commonwealth will also change its character and [reduce] the number of countries in it. Prince Phillip, King Charles, and others agree: Well, if you decide to go your own way, go your own way. But stay friends.

This interview has been linked and edited for clarity.

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Write to Armani Syed at [email protected]

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