Princess Diana

Princess Diana Wanted to Run Away from Husband & Live With Her Bodyguard Who Made Her ‘Happy’, Reports Claimed

After her death, private tapes between Princess Diana and her voice coach Peter Settelen were released. In them, Diana admits a relationship with a bodyguard she called the “greatest love” she ever had. The guard went unnamed in the recording but Diana said she was “deeply in love” with him and would have been “quite happy to give all this up and to just go off and live with him. And he kept saying he thought it was a good idea too.”

Today, many people believe she was referring to Barry Mannakee. The timeline makes sense. She claimed to meet him when she was 24, which is when Mannakee became her bodyguard, and he passed away in a motorcycle accident, which is how Mannakee died in 1987.

I was only happy when he was around…I was like a little girl in front of him the whole time,” she said on the tapes.

Princess Diana’s New Bodyguard

In 1985, Diana’s bodyguard, Chief Inspector Graham Smith, stepped down. She was in need of a new bodyguard. In her biography, The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown discusses the qualifications for the role.

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What kind of man do you cast to guard a beautiful and unhappy young princess? Someone very strong, very sane, and very married. Someone who could steer her out of trouble.

Then came Sergeant Barry Mannakee. He worked as a former police dog handler and with the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group since 1983. So, in April 1985, the 37-year-old became her bodyguard at a vulnerable time in Diana’s lie. She was raising Prince William and Prince Harry in a complicated relationship. As Brown wrote, she was “still trying to live within the chaffing confines of her marriage but increasingly unwilling to give up on her need for love.”

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However, Mannakee was also married with kids. His wife, Susan, was a reflexologist and they have two daughters together, both teenagers at the time. Brown described Mannakee’s appearance as “cocky East Ender with kind eyes,” and “dark and handsome in a blokey way, with a nice helping of spontaneous warmth.” In the biography, Diana in Search of Herself, Sally Bedell Smith wrote that the bodyguard “had a jocular personality” and “put Diana instantly at ease.” [1]

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Princess Diana Becomes Close With Her Bodyguard

Mannakee and Princess Diana’s relationship took off during a fishing trip in Balmoral in 1985. The two had already known each other, but this retreat was the catalyst for their close bond. As Brown described the incident,

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As she glumly watched her husband at his favorite occupation, a salmon hook from a careless cast became embedded in her eyelid. Personal protection was radioed to take Diana back to the house to receive medical attention. It was Mannakee who drove the car, Mannakee, not her husband, who consoled her.

Read: Here’s Exactly What’s Going To Happen When The Queen Passes Away

After that, Mannake supported Diana emotionally, including before social events and trips. In Brown’s book, she quoted Mannakee talking to the housekeeper Wendy Berry, saying, “She kept saying she couldn’t go ahead with it, and just collapsed in my arms. I hugged her and stopped her crying. What would you have done?

Of course, many became curious if the relationship ever became physical. Diana denied it and Ken Wharfe, Diana’s next bodyguard, claimed it did not. In the documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, Wharfe said, “Diana did not have a sexual relationship with Mannakee. I think Mannakee was a shoulder to cry on and I think that all of us, both male and female, working with the princess were all potential shoulders to cry on. That was her style.” Meanwhile, James Hewitt, Diana’s ex-lover wrote that Diana and Mannakee did have a physical affair in his book Love and War. Additionally, Brown also believed in this theory. 

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Read: Prince Charles Only Realized He Loved Diana After She Died | “She Was the First Person Who Showed Him Real Love”

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Mannakee’s Death

Whichever the case, Mannakee broke protocol, which involved maintaining a distant relationship with Princess Diana. In Wharfe’s book, he wrote that Mannakee and Diana had tea together in her private parlor, an “unheard of” occurrence. Additionally, Brown explained that the two were overhead flirting, quoting the alleged conversation going as “‘Barry, how do I look?’ she would ask him coquettishly. ‘Sensational, as you know you do. I could quite fancy you myself.’ ‘But you already do, don’t you? Escort me to my car.'”

In the recorded tapes, Diana admitted to “playing with fire” with her relationship with him. Later, Mannakee was demoted from his role. “It was all found out and they chucked him out,” Diana said in the tapes. [2]

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However, on May 22, 1987, Mannakee was killed by an inexperienced driver on a motorbike. Diana heard the news at the Cannes Film Festival.

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This was the biggest blow of my life,” Diana said in the tapes. “I just sat there all day going through this huge high profile visit to Cannes, thousands of press, just devastated. Because, you know, I wasn’t supposed to mind as much as I did, if you know what I mean.”

A Parallel Death

There’s a parallel between his death and Princess Diana’s, who died in an accident in 1997. Diana suspected Mannakee was purposely killed off because of their inappropriate relationship; although, there is no direct proof of this. Similarly, Diana died in another road accident but many people suspect it was a setup to dispose of her after her scandalous divorce. Her sons, Prince Harry and Prince William blame the death on the relentless onslaught of media and paparazzi. [3]

Keep Reading: It’s Illegal to Visit This Island in the Indian Ocean, and Here’s Why

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Sources

  1. “Princess Diana Called Her Bodyguard Barry Mannakee the “Greatest Love” She Ever Had.” Oprah Daily. Elena Nicolaou. November 22, 2020
  2. Princess Diana’s alleged affair with bodyguard ended in utter tragedy.New Zealand Herald. Daniel Elser. December 4, 2020
  3. “Princes William And Harry Say BBC Interview Led To Princess Diana’s Divorce And Death.” NPR. Vanessa Romo. May 20, 2021
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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