Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 25, 1995 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Housekeeper's Diary: Charles and Diana Before the Breakup

Current Status
In Season
Wendy Berry
Nonfiction, Memoir

We gave it a D-

In the smarmy note that prefaces this tawdry piece of opportunism, the editor crows that, although The Housekeeper’s Diary: Charles and Diana Before the Breakup is banned in Britain (because anyone employed by the royal family is prohibited by British law from writing about the experience), ”we are blessed with our First Amendment…which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press.” Surely the chance to make a quick buck by blabbing about the people whose bedrooms Wendy Berry used to enter is not what Thomas Jefferson had in mind. Anyhow, what really twists my knickers is that Berry — referred to in British tabloids as a ”63-year-old granny” — knows nothing particular of interest to anyone who knows anything at all about the unhappy marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Judging from her blinkered, unilluminating reportage, Berry is a gossipy, vindictive, self-absorbed employee who worked as the housekeeper of the couple’s Highgrove country estate from 1985 to 1992 and whose big beef, so far as I can tell, is that the two split up, doing her out of a cushy job. And, specifically, at the last Christmas staff party, when she already knew she was going to be let go, Berry was seated away from the main room, where she could ”neither see anyone nor hear the speeches”! One can only shudder at how dangerous a literary threat the housekeeper would have been had Diana not given her a farewell lunch. D-

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