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After divorcing Prince Charles, the Princess of Wales ran her court in a very different way to other royals in that seniority was often judged by how well you got on with her, rather than the traditional fixed hierarchy. However, just like other members of the Royal Family, Diana demanded absolute loyalty from her staff. Her chef Darren McGrady opened up about this in the documentary ‘Royal Servants’, uploaded to YouTube in 2011.
The chef once found himself cold-shouldered by Diana for three whole days, although the reason she was unhappy with him was not specified.
Mr McGrady explained how he had had to appeal to Diana’s sense of humour to win her back.
He said: “It was resolved, I think, because one night I sent dinner in and I actually made a smiley face with the stuffed eggplant and red pepper and did a plate with a smiley face.
“And I think the princess saw the funny side and things were back on track again.”
Diana’s private secretary Patrick Jephson also spoke about the experience of getting on her bad side.
He said: “She would withhold eye contact from someone who had displeased her and perhaps lavish it on someone who hadn’t done anything particularly commendable.”
According to the documentary, Mr Jephson found himself increasingly sidelined by Diana, who seemed to prefer her butler Paul Burrell over her private secretary, who was technically more senior.
Diana reportedly got on with and trusted Mr Burrell above all the other servants and staff.
This meant Mr Jephson started to find his job almost impossible to do.
Steve Dennis, who co-authored a book with Mr Burrell, told the documentary: “Imagine being Patrick Jephson.
“You have been the organiser ‒ the efficient organiser, to perfect detail ‒ the princess’ world and all of a sudden you find yourself frozen out.
“You find your work being questioned, because the princess is showing letters or asking advice to Paul Burrell.
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“Imagine being Patrick Jephson for a minute and thinking, ‘I’m being usurped, I’m being questioned, by an effing butler.’”
By 1996, Mr Jephson had left Diana’s employment and she became even more reliant on Mr Burrell.
Paul Kidd, who was a royal butler from 1975 to 1982, insisted that Diana should not have allowed herself to get so close to a member of staff.
He said: “She should never have allowed him into her royal domain.
“The Queen is also lonely and on her own and just sat down watching a little TV.
“But she wouldn’t dream of saying to me, or to somebody else, ‘pull a chair up, pour a cup of tea, let’s have a natter.’”
However, Diana was known to blur the lines between royalty and staff even as early as before her wedding to Prince Charles.
She had moved into Buckingham Palace and sent two footmen, Mr Burrell and Mark Simpson, on a special errand for her ‒ to pick up some food from McDonald’s.
Then, they all sat in her room eating them, a huge breach of protocol as royals dining with footmen is against all the rules.
Mr Dennis said: “They sneak in and it’s almost like this pink panther-esque escapade, tiptoeing down the carpet, knowing they’ll be in huge trouble if found.
“And they drop off this Big Mac and they have this little Big Mac party.
“And that was the first time Paul saw how breathtakingly normal, down-to-earth and genuine the princess was, and how lost she was.”
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