Andrew Morton: Diana was fizzy, frothy and fun and I suppose, like many men, I was a little bit in love with her
Royal biographer Andrew Morton, who has courted fresh controversy by updating his bombshell biography of Princess Diana, tells Ivan Little that had she lived, she could now be the First Lady of the United States.
Controversial biographer Andrew Morton, who's made a king's ransom out of his books about Princess Diana, has claimed she could have been Donald Trump's First Lady if she had lived, but he's also insisted that her love rival, Camilla Parker Bowles, will never be Queen.
Morton, whose first book about Diana in 1992 caused a huge backlash, says that Trump tried to court the princess and sent her flowers.
"I've joked about it in the past," says Morton. "But it's not so much of a joke now. She maybe could have been the princess in Trump Tower."
Trump met Diana at a charity event in New York in 1995, and two weeks after her death, the billionaire businessman who's now US President told a radio interviewer that he "could and would" have slept with the princess.
"You could have nailed her?" asked shock-jock Howard Stern and Trump replied: "I think I could have. She had the height, the beauty, she had the skin."
Morton, who said that Trump had once approached him about asking the princess's butler to come and work for him, was vilified after he wrote a biography called Diana: Her True Story, in which he included accounts of her bulimia, her suicide attempts and Prince Charles's adultery.
Critics, including a number of Morton's journalistic colleagues, dismissed his claims out of hand.
However, after her death in August 1997, the author revealed that Diana had collaborated with him in the preparation of the book by sending him tapes through an intermediary.
That man was Dr James Colthurst, who was a friend of the princess, and he secretly recorded her answers to Morton's questions, which revealed a woman in torment, wracked by pain and anger.
Before her passing, Morton was unable to disclose the source of his accounts about Diana, or to answer accusations that he had been lying.
He says: "I knew it was all true, because the words came out of Diana's own mouth. But it was frustrating that I was getting lambasted. I thought journalists might have got the nods and winks in the text about how I got the quotes from Diana. But most of them were asking how dare I write it.
"I felt like a fighter in an old-style Victorian boxing booth, taking on all-comers. And I had one hand tied behind my back."
As the anniversary of Diana's death approaches, Morton has revisited his book about her, only this time it's much bigger and includes the transcripts of the conversations that the princess had with Colthurst.
Morton says: "The original book was 150 pages and the new one is three times bigger. As well as the transcripts, I also disclose the subterfuge that went on behind the compiling of the first book. I was never face-to-face with Diana, so that we could give her deniability.
"In the new book, I also look at Diana's death and the subsequent response from the public and I write about how her sons, William and Harry, have lived their lives without their mother."
Unsurprisingly, Morton has faced renewed flak for updating the book.
On ITV's Loose Women, he came under fire from Janet Street-Porter, who accused him of being part of a "very lucrative industry" and from Coleen Nolan, who questioned the impact the publication would have on William and Harry.
Morton adds: "That criticism is a nonsense. The book has been out for 25 years, so there are no old wounds to be opened.
"And it's just part of a whole avalanche of material, including some from William and Harry, who have given interviews to the BBC and ITV.
"I think my book is basically about appreciating and understanding the life of the woman we lost."
As well as the documentaries, there have been a huge number of other books about Diana and it's been difficult to pick up a national newspaper without finding a glossy supplement about her.
The elephant in the newsrooms, so to speak, has very much been the secret relationship between Prince Charles and Camilla.
Yet 26 years ago, Morton knew nothing about Camilla.
"In the tapes, Diana kept referring to Camilla and didn't use her surname, because she assumed I knew who she was.
"But I had never heard of her back then.
"And yet now she's part of the royal landscape, part of the mainstream, having been married to Charles for 12 years."
Morton says he hasn't been shocked by recent opinion polls that have shown Camilla and Charles have fallen out of favour with the British public.
"I think all the publicity has reminded the nation that Diana and Charles weren't involved in a fairytale and to use the princess's own phrase - 'there were three of them in the marriage'," he says.
"I also believe that the response to Camilla's 70th birthday showed that all the attempts to rehabilitate her seem to have evaporated."
The polls also underlined support for the monarchy to skip a generation and bypass Prince Charles for his son, William.
Morton adds: "Diana herself fostered that notion and said she would like to help William come to the throne, adding that Charles and 'his lady' should go off to Italy and start farming, which is what 'he always said he wanted to do'."
The former Fleet Street reporter says that it's clear that Charles wants Camilla to be his Queen, but he cautions.
"Whether or not that happens depends on the mood of the people at the time," he says. "But I won't sit on the fence - I don't think there will be a Queen Camilla. If she was made Queen, it would cause a lot of trouble, yet I believe people would accept her as some sort of consort."
Morton says the public's fascination with - and affection for - Diana remains high, even after two decades.
"To be frank, I've been surprised by how much interest there's been in the 20th anniversary of the accident," he says. "The first straw in the wind for me came in March 2016, when I was contacted by a German TV company about a documentary.
"And there have been similar programmes made by filmmakers in Argentina, Holland, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in the UK and France. It's been astonishing.
"Of course, billions of people around the world saw her funeral and an anniversary is a time to reflect and remember, but also there's a new generation who are interested in Diana's story, which could be straight out of a Regency novel.
"It's almost like a picaresque tale of an innocent at large in the world, who develops from a rosy-cheeked ingenue to a very sleek, sophisticated and articulate humanitarian."
Morton acknowledges, however, that, in her dealings with him for the book, Diana wasn't totally upfront, especially over her own dalliances outside her marriage.
"The more I look at her, the more it takes my breath away," he says. "She was talking to me about her life at the same time as she was trying to have an affair with the art dealer Oliver Hoare. One might have thought she would have shown a little bit more restraint."
Morton only discovered what Diana had been up to when he looked through the timeline of her life and loves as he worked on the new version of book.
Morton, however, has no apologies for his Diana publications or for taking her side in them.
"I felt she was very hard done by Charles and the royal family. So, I had no qualms about supporting her," he says.
"She was a fizzy, frothy fun girl and I suppose, like many men, I was a little in love with her."
Morton, who met Diana in his days as a royal correspondent for newspapers long before the seeds were sown for his book, says the princess also had a winning way with people.
After the Enniskillen massacre in November 1987, Diana met victims' relatives and survivors and kept in touch with them for years afterwards.
"That doesn't surprise me. It was typical of her," says Morton, who was in Edinburgh when he heard about Diana's death.
"I woke to find 132 messages for me and I hot-footed it back to London."
Morton says he never subscribed to the theory that Diana had been killed as part of a conspiracy involving MI5.
"I agree she was conspired against throughout her adult life to deny there was a relationship between Charles and Camilla, to patch it up as just a benign friendship and it involved all of Charles' circle of friends and all of the people at Highgrove, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace," he says.
"Diana lived in a paranoid world. But when it comes down to the accident, after reading the 500,000 page report of the exhaustive investigation into the crash, I am in no doubt it was down to a drunk-driver, Henri Paul, driving too fast in a built-up area."
Years before, however, Morton had been warned by journalist colleagues that the intelligence agencies were looking for the moles who had given him information about Diana and Charles.
"A couple of weeks later, my office was broken into and nothing was stolen apart from a camera," says Morton, who doesn't think there are too many more revelations waiting to emerge about Princess Diana.
"But there's still one unanswered question - about who strayed first, Charles or Diana? I don't think it will ever be properly analysed, because one of the main witnesses is gone," says Morton, who adds that the one thing which is not in doubt is that if Diana had still been alive, she would have been the world's most glamorous grandmother.
He also believes that she would now be a major figure in humanitarian work.
"She once talked of a big surprise that was up ahead in her life and, as far as I am aware, her plan was to open hospices around the world using her iconographic status to raise money for them."
Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton is published by Michael O'Mara, priced £20