Priestley wrote that Leeds should be bombed every 10 years. The only hint of royalty in this shag-carpeted dining room is a table of businessmen wearing gold paper crowns, apparently for a birthday celebration. They don't recognize Mr. Morton -- indeed, no one here does -- even though his picture has appeared in every British newspaper. At 6-foot-4, he is hard to miss. He says his height initially got him the job of reporting on the royal family because he could see over crowds.
And in this roomful of wrinkled raincoats, his navy blazer, silk tie and gray slacks make him look as if he entered via the windows of Harrods.
Andrew Morton: How I got the Diana tapes
While most of this anonymous-looking group lines up for a buffet lunch that doesn't bear close scrutiny, Mr. Morton briskly seats himself at a corner table with his back to the room, decidedly shutting it out. He is eager to move on to the role he has played in the separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales, an unprecedented one in the histories of both the royal family and the British press.
With what must have been the Princess's tacit approval, though no one will come right out and admit it, three of her intimates supplied Mr. Morton with her version of the unhappily-ever-after she has endured since her storybook wedding in , including what they characterize as gross neglect by her in-laws, her husband's unrelenting contempt for her and seeming lack of interest in his sons, her bouts of bulimia and her several suicide attempts.
When the book was published in June by Michael O'Mara in London, Buckingham Palace tried to discredit it, taking the position that the Princess was emotionally unbalanced and that Mr. Morton was a self-promoting hack.
But the three most important sources -- Charles Althorp, the Princess's brother; Carolyn Bartholomew, her closest friend, and James Gilbey, another friend and her rumored lover -- stood behind the book and its author. Morton says. I have been called, in print, 'a pushy tabloid vulgarian from Leeds with a tenuous grasp of social nuances.
There is a remarkable symmetry between Mr. Morton, who is 38, and the Princess of Wales, they both broke the establishment's rules and got away with it. After her marriage, she quickly found that she was effortlessly more popular than Charles. During public appearances, the subjects all groaned if they were on the Prince's side of the crowd and couldn't meet the Princess.
Frances Clynes with Andrew Morton | Astrological Association | Flickr
Princes don't like to be groaned at, especially Charles, who's spent his entire life being obscured by his mother, only to be upstaged by his wife. With the genuine empathy Diana has shown for people in trouble, along with the small but important fact that unlike her royal counterparts she does not wear gloves while shaking hands, preferring to touch people, she further endeared herself to the public.
The royal family found itself virtually powerless to oust her -- as it did Sarah Ferguson, after she and Prince Andrew separated -- without sparking outright hostility from all quarters. Because Mr. If Anne Boleyn had had Andrew Morton around, she might have died with her head still attached. His own notoriety aside, Mr. Morton remains self-assured, even when faced with what is billed as a gourmet pizza, a terrifying creation covered with everything but trifle.
He is friendly, though when he smiles he shows all his teeth in a manner that some might find predatory. While his conversation is intelligent, it can lapse into cliches "She's a princess in a gilded cage" and bouts of self-importance. And when talking about the fallout from the book, which he repeatedly refers to by its full title, "Diana: Her True Story," he states: "I'm still Andrew Morton, year-old writer and thinker. That doesn't change.
Morton studied history at Sussex University. He was a news reporter at The Daily Star in London before being promoted to royal correspondent.
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He then worked for two tabloids, The News of the World and The Daily Mail, in the same job, writing books on the side until he became a freelancer in He lives in north London with his wife, Lynne, who was his childhood sweetheart, and their two daughters. Although he acknowledges that he has never spoken with her directly, he says: "I seem like the spokesman for Princess Diana now, which makes it awkward.
People assume my words are her words, but it's just me trying to interpret what I am told Diana is thinking and saying. Morton is regarded with terrible envy by many colleagues for his good fortune. Attacks on him in the British press are increasingly commonplace. One of his 10 books, published in , was "Theirs Is the Kingdom," which Mr. Morton says speaks directly to the point of the royal family's paying tax for the first time in its history. Want more information about your chart?
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