“The one thing he loves to be most of all is Prince Charles. The Prince of Wales. He enjoys the privileges, the attention … being the center attraction. …It’s the only thing he knows”

Stephen Barry: The Royal Bard

It is clear that even the most cynical citizens have an unceasing appetite for any information relating to the English royal family — this despite America’s hard-won independence from Britain.

The newly wedded Prince Charles, his bride, and their $2 million wedding have only served to fuel the constant speculation about the real doings at Buckingham Palace. Modern fairy tale or sordid soap opera?

Even with the never-ending outpouring of books and television coverage, the questions remain: Who is Prince Charles? What, in this modern age of economic woe, rampant crime, and international conflict, does the royal family do to justify its lavish life-style, its seemingly limitless budget, and ceremonial pomp? And Diana herself — who in fact is she, this twenty-one-year-old bride who spends even more on her wardrobe than Nancy Reagan? “A spoiled brat,” as many would have it, or simply a rich innocent in over her head?

One may never pierce the royal facade. Buckingham Palace is so cloaked in secrecy and protocol that employees, from footmen to personal secretaries, must now sign non-disclosure agreements, much like CIA agents. Likewise, leaks have been summarily punished, the transgressors fired. With one exception — Stephen Barry.

At age thirty-four, Barry has recently resigned after twelve years as valet to the Prince of Wales, his resignation coinciding with the royal wedding. And indeed, Barry has now gone public.

Barry first entered royal service at age eighteen. A commoner dissatisfied with his nine-to-five job, he applied for the position of footman by ordinary post. Hired as a junior staff member (there are 160 on staff catering to the needs of eight), Barry moved into his own room in the palace, where he continued to live until shortly before his resignation. He now holds a lease on an apartment given to him by the prince. To be suddenly on the inside looking out was a heady transition for a young man from the London suburbs.

Just three years after his inauspicious start he found himself traveling the globe, attending state functions, private weekends, and family holidays in the coveted position of valet to Prince Charles. Everywhere the prince went, Barry followed. What were his duties? He woke the prince each morning, prepared his clothes (including some forty different uniforms), screened visitors, handled all his personal shopping, and even sat in for the future King of England during royal portrait sessions. He became, in short, the prince’s constant companion. Did he ever feel like royalty himself? According to Barry, “One always remembered that you’re only in their shadow. There’s none of this wishing to swap places or join in. I’d never want to do his job.” Certainly if anyone should know Charles, it is Barry. As the old saying goes, a man is never a hero to his valet.

With the public announcement of his resignation, Barry was deluged with job offers, his face suddenly a front-page fixture in London’s tabloids amid false speculation that he had been fired. Adnan Khashoggi, the international arms merchant, called on him to run his operations in England. Ditto for Turnbull and Asser, one of the country’s leading clothiers, who offered him a position as PR consultant. Interview requests arrived daily, accompanied by offers of up to $150,000. And indeed, soon to be severed by his own hand from royal service, Barry was feted by the chicest clubs in London. He had become a mildly unwilling overnight celebrity whom the world looked to as the source of the choicest gossip on Charles and his family.

Not surprisingly, then, his book Royal Service, published by Macmillan, has been the center of controversy since its completion last summer, causing a stir not only here in the United States but also in England, where publication has thus far been banned. His is the first look at the palace from the inside — an “Upstairs, Downstairs” of Buckingham Palace.

How much has Barry revealed? Enough, and yet here, sitting for the Penthouse interview, even more. Peter Manso, whose last assignment was killer-author Jack Henry Abbott, was assigned to probe, push, and peel away the English reserve. What emerged was startling, hardly the glittering portrait the royal family has been accustomed to.

Manso reports: ” Barry is an altogether pleasant man — perhaps too pleasant. By turns affable, gentle, considerate, and impeccably mannered, he displayed a willingness to entertain any questions. It was obvious that he’s already quite used to press interviews, though of the English variety, and so on the subject of, say, Lady Di’s virginity, he’d just plunge in. The tensions in the royal marriage, Charles’s bachelor days, the essential anachronism of royalty in England’s era of near bankruptcy, even Koo Stark and Prince Andrew’s affair — all was fair game, good sport, and yes, jolly all right, too.“

“Given the success of Barry’s book and its huge six-figure advance before publication, the only logical place to begin was at the end: did the former valet feel he had betrayed Prince Charles’s trust?”

We live in an era of “kiss and tell” journalism, so it wouldn’t be inappropriate to ask if it’s occurred to you that in writing this book you’re cashing in on your relationship with the prince?

Barry: Well, yes, when you put it that way, I am making a profit out of an experience, sure. But I’m not rich and I need an income — when I lived at the palace, I was on a very small income, £100 monthly, or $200. When I left, which was a year ago, I was taken care of to a large extent. Now I’ve got to stand on my own two feet and think about the future. This book will set me up for the rest of my life. If it’s properly handled, it’ll be my pension fund.

Has it compromised your relationship with the prince, however? The trust he put in you?

Barry: If your question is “Should I have done the book or not?”, I think, yes, of course. I thought a lot about it beforehand and then after I wrote it I kept in touch with the prince. I haven’t just written it and run away from London.

Charles read it, then? In effect, vetted it? And Diana as well?

Barry: That’s right, before the book went to my publisher, and he made no requests to change anything. He’s been aware of the project from the beginning. In fact, he was quite fascinated by it when I first went to tell him, which was during the same period I was being asked to do press interviews. He’d ask, “How much are they paying you?” When I told him, he was quite amazed at the sort of figures that were being thrown around. It came to be a joke between us. Each day he’d ask, “What’s the latest offer?” As for Diana’s reading it, I don’t know. But I’m sure she must have, because they read everything about themselves they can lay their hands on.

A number of people have remarked that the book is quite tame, though. Aren’t you constantly being asked, Where’s the dirt? Where’s the scandal, the sex? How do you answer that — by saying that there wasn’t any?

Barry: Well, there wasn’t. It was just a standard single man’s life. Well, not exactly standard…

Not exactly, indeed. But while you talk about his girl friends you’re never explicit, never say whether he spent the nights with them.

Barry: No. Because, of course, one assumed he did.

By the same token there’s no mention of displays of temper on the part of anyone in the royal family.

Barry: In his own family? No, because they all get on very well together. At the risk of sounding sloppy, they get on too well together.

Too well? Explain that.

Barry: Well, outsiders would wonder, Why are they all so close? I mean, I argue with my sisters; I used to argue with my parents — but the same thing doesn’t go on in the royal family. I mean, they’re not sitting there all day smiling at each other, but they do keep totally to themselves.

Would you say that they’re out of touch with the real world?

Barry: When they’re working they’re in touch totally with the real world. When they’re off-duty, in their private rooms, they become a very tight family unit. They don’t really trust many people and they therefore draw their strength from each other.

Or their insecurity, perhaps.

Barry: Whichever way you want to put it. I wouldn’t say they’re in an insecure position, but they do rely on public opinion. The reason the royals exist is the public opinion; they’re not there by law. The prince, for example, has always said, “If they want me to go, I’ll go” — meaning, if things ever changed that much. He’s aware that public opinion can change radically, but all the royals know at the moment, certainly since Jubilee year, that they’re very popular. The wedding proved it. Even the leftists in the British Parliament who had criticized the expenditure for the wedding have been silenced by this popularity.

What was your role on the wedding day?

Barry: Well, having planned for it, I was determined to make it as efficient as possible.

Did you dress Charles, prepare him for his big moment, as it were?

Barry: Yes, of course. It was the first time I ever went into his room to wake. him and found him already wide awake.

What was he doing when you walked in?

Barry: He had put the radio on and was listening to the news buildup. It had started at six or seven in the morning. He was excited, of course, but nervous at the same time. You were conscious of the fact that this was the big, big day in his life. It was the biggest ceremonial day since his investiture. He was looking through the curtains at the mall, the street outside. Every time he peeked he’d be amazed at the crowds.

He hadn’t anticipated the turnout? Come now!

Barry: The crowds, yes, but not the enthusiasm.

Did he eat breakfast alone?

Barry: Yes, as he always does. Prince Andrew, his best man, came along to say hello. All of the family came along …

Was there joking, kidding?

Barry: Oh, yes. Andrew was saying, “Are you ready for this, Charles?”

And what did Charles say?

Barry: “Of course.” Then he added, “Andrew, behave.” He’s always remonstrating with Andrew to be good.

And Diana — when did he see her for the first time that day?

Barry: At St. Paul’s. That is absolute tradition in England, that the bride stays separate from the groom the night before the wedding.

How cognizant was he of the responsibility he was putting on her?

Barry: Actually, totally. That’s why he’s very protective of her.

Did he say as much to you?

Barry: No, not as such, but I knew that he wanted her treated carefully. You see, the other thing you could have created under these circumstances was a monster. But he was always very considerate of her. It’s in his nature to be considerate. When the press were living outside her house, before the engagement, he was constantly saying to me, “I wish the press would leave her alone. I’m so worried about her.”

Diana has been presented as a great natural beauty, yet one wonders how much of this is her clothing, the jewelry, and all the rest of the royal trappings.

Barry: She has this terrific presence about her. She’ll walk into a room, and boom! You know it’s her. It comes from her height. She moves very purposefully. She doesn’t come in posing; she doesn’t practice walking or anything.

Still, what’s so remarkable about her appearance?

Barry: Her brilliant eyes. The eyes are really the thing. They look wondering and, well, modest. She’s got a wonderful smile; her face just lights up. Also, perfect skin, a perfect complexion. She’s beautifully built as well.

Would you say the fact that she has become the center of attention has caused her to have doubts about her real worth?

Barry: Of course. Because people grovel. That’s the word I use. I’ve seen people crawl in front of the royals, just sort of oil up towards them. An awful lot of people are snobs and they love to feel they’ve got a royal association. So has she got self-doubts as a result of all. this? Sure. She certainly knows that the reason people are paying attention to her is because of the prince. He made her. A million people would have turned up in the street to watch the royal wedding no matter who the prince married.

Is she at all clever?

Barry: She’s not the brain of Britain, no.

But she does have a brain — not an intellectual brain, but common sense.

Common sense?

Barry: What the average person has, yes. I mean, she’s not stupid. She’s an average, well-brought-up girl with polished manners. You know, finishing school and all that sort of thing. I mean, I’ve never known her to get up in the morning and say, “Oh, my God, what about the dollar?” She’s more interested in thinking about “Let’s have some nice curtains; let’s paint this wall pink,” and all that nonsense. That’s the sort of girl she is. Quite average.

And Lady Diana dances, decorates, shops, sings, entertains, converses, and eats chocolates, as you repeatedly suggest in your book?

Barry: Basically, in a rearranged form.

You don’t think Queen Elizabeth might have wanted her son to marry a woman who respected the limitations of her position but was also bright?

Barry: I wonder. You see, you can have only one person in charge, really only one person dominating.

Nigel Dempster, one of England’s foremost royalty watchers, says of the princess: “She’s behaving like a petulant, spoiled brat. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” It sounds like there are a lot of problems at the palace, above and beyond what you’re talking about.

Barry: The answer is, there isn’t. The Princess of Wales went through a depression after having the baby, which apparently is quite standard. And, as I say, the press irritates her.

There’s been a spate of articles recently, including a cover story in People, where it would appear that Diana is having trouble with all the attention from the press. On her ski trip in Liechtenstein she refused to pose for photographers even though Charles was apparently pleading, saying, “Please, Diana, don’t do that. You are being stupid.” I would call that having trouble dealing with the press.

Barry: Well, after the honeymoon in 1980 at Balmoral, their summer residence, the press turned up at the gates and drove the queen and the duke mad. And, at the end, unheard of at Balmoral, the prince and princess posed for photographs. The press came, they had their five, ten minutes with them, and they left. That’s the British respect for them. They didn’t touch them for another six weeks. The same thing would have happened in Liechtenstein had it not been for the foreign press. It’s the royal couple’s fault for going skiing in a very public place. But one can understand her trying to adjust to this constraint. The thing is, Diana doesn’t need the publicity.

Why do you think the press, especially the English press, seems to be turning on the royal couple in terms of their coverage?

Barry: In 1981, it was a fairy-tale story — beautiful princess with handsome prince.

They get married and it’s all beautiful, wonderful, and happy. Now they’re looking for the alternative story. They’re looking for cracks in the marriage. What’s happening? Nothing’s happening, nothing’s going to go wrong. The one thing people perhaps don’t know — he likes her, of course, he’s fond of her, she’s his wife — but the thing no one understands is that she’s crazy about him, absolutely crazy. When people used to say to me, “Oh, isn’t she lucky? The Princess of Wales, she’s going to marry the prince.” I used to say, “Isn’t he lucky?”

“I’ve seen people crawl in front of the royals, just sort of oil up to them. An awful lot of people are snobs and they love to feel they’ve got a royal association.”

What do you see as the difference between the queen and Nancy Reagan?

Barry: Nancy Reagan obviously keeps up the image of the administration. The queen, on the other hand, is above politics. She is clean; by that I mean not corrupted. I’m not saying that Reagan is corrupt, but in American politics, those in office take directions from and do favors for the people who support them. That doesn’t happen in England. The monarchy in England is above corruption. That’s why they’re so respected. They are very rich — but we like to know that they’re not going to base some decision on a chance to make £1,000.

Malcolm Muggeridge said in Time: “It often seems as if our British monarchy, along with our secret intelligence service, represents the only appurtenance of national greatness still extant.” Do you think this is true?

Barry: To an extent. I know nothing about the intelligence service. I suppose it isn’t rational to have a family such as the royal family in the world today. But at the same time you have to ask: What would the monarchy be replaced with? Why change something that is working very well and exists by popular vote?

Why do the British need a royal family, thoughout of a longing for historical continuity, a sense of tradition?

Barry: The world is changing so fast. I can’t even imagine what changes will take place in the next ten years. And yet the royal family never changes. Life goes on exactly the same for them. They are a form of security. And yet they’re not locked in a time capsule — they are out there listening.

Does the average Britisher have such feelings for ·he royal family?

Barry: I think so. If you went into the average English town and said, “The queen’s rotten,” they’d be up in arms. You’d have a fist fight, a riot on your hands. Ditto for any similar slur against the princess. Both of them, all the royals, make up an institution.

Here’s a quote from your book: “I can remember Lady Diana’s very first visit to Highgrove and her face dropping when she was served one of Charles’ leftover lunches.” What’s this about?

Barry: He’s got this slight cheap streak. If he had a big lunch on Sunday, he would serve the leftovers at the next meal. People tend to have a misconception about royals — that grand meals are carried around on big trays, and if it’s not eaten it’s chucked out or given to the poor. But that’s not the case at all. They put it back.in the kitchen and eat it for dinner.

And what did Diana say when this leftover meal was resented to her?

Barry: “Is this standard practice?” And she discovered it was…

Was Charles amused by her reaction?

Barry: Of course. He thought she’d better get used to understanding that he was not extravagant. He did the same in Scotland. I remember a girl friend named Georgina Russell, way back — she couldn’t believe it either. It finally became embarrassing — you know, when bananas in the fruit salad go black, you should leave it alone. But this is one of his silly economies. At the same time, he drives an Aston Martin, which drinks up more petrol than anything else on the road.

It would seem that the prince had a very good time for himself when he was a bachelor. He did have a number of well-publicized romances, no?

Barry: Yes, but not as many as the media would have you believe. He was certainly a very successful bachelor.

Where did he carry on these affairs? Buckingham Palace?

Barry: No, on weekends. He would go to the country on weekends. Never at the palace. If somebody came to dinner, they went home by 11 :00. They didn’t spend the night. They couldn’t. The night-duty policemen check everyone i[l and out.

More broadly, though, how much does Charles actually invest in a relationship with a woman?

Barry: As much as he can. What you have to understand is that he’s totally committed to his appointment book. If he meets you and likes you, he might love to spend the week with you, but six months earlier, he had promised to go and visit an old people’s home.

Have you ever known him to be swept off his feet by a woman?

Barry: Two or three times. Davina Sheffield — she was a huge romance in the early ’70s. But the press dug up some story that she’d lived with her boyfriend before meeting the prince — so that had to end. He also loved an American lady called Laura Jo Watkins. She was an admiral’s daughter he met on the West Coast in 197 4. He thought she was just great. She didn’t have that English reserve like most of the other girls he knew. She wasn’t going to get the job as a wife; she was aware of that, so she was just going to have a good time with him. He liked that idea; he could really relax with somebody like that. He didn’t have to sit there thinking, “If she’s being nice to me, what does she want out of it?”

You mentioned that Anna Wallace was fed up with all the secrecy involved in dating the prince. What form did this take?

Barry: Well, they’re always being dragged off around fields — the prince is paranoid about his privacy. It’s a silly cat-and-mouse game with the press. If you’re with someone, you’re proud to be with them. If you’re with a beautiful blonde, great. It’s not bad for your ego. She’s feeling good too. But what’s the fun about being shoved in a Land Rover?

Wasn’t virginity one of the requirements for the girl Charles was to marry?

Barry: That I don’t know. That’s up to the person marrying. But then, you’ve got to think of the British public. They don’t want to make a princess out of somebody who’s been running a brothel for six years.

There was a rumor that the queen had Diana examined by a doctor before —

Barry: No such thing is true. Absolutely not.

No? You’re certain?

Barry: I can’t believe it’s true. I mean … it was certainly never mentioned. Getting married to the Prince of Wales wasn’t like taking out an insurance policy where you needed a medical exam to get the job.

Had Charles and Diana slept together prior to their marriage?

Barry: I’m sure the answer is yes, but I don’t know.

Prince Andrew’s affair with Koo Stark seems to be less of an issue with the royals than Charles’s romantic life was when he was a bachelor.

Barry: Andrew is being groomed for a very different role. If anything happened to Prince Charles, Andrew would have to change overnight because he would then be placed in a different position. The expectations would be different.

Do you think Andrew may marry Koo Stark?

Barry: No, of course not. I doubt it very much.

But he seems quite serious about her. Hasn’t he given Koo his navy dog tags?

Barry: Yes, but you do all kinds of silly things if you’re crazy about somebody without having to get married to them. She may well know her value — that she’s being used for a bit of romance, for sex. I imagine she knows she’s not going to end up waltzing around the ballroom of Buckingham Palace. I’d be amazed if she were. There’s a tendency on the side of any male, especially a royal, to marry late and marry with caution.

Let’s push this a little further. It sounds as if Charles is in a straitjacket —

Barry: Yes and no. He’s got a basic casual approach, but he’s still very royal. You could very possibly misinterpret his friendliness and get palsy with him, but if you started to get overly familiar, especially if it was at an official engagement or something, you’d soon be put back in place. You see, one of the reasons the royals are royal is because the people around them keep them royal by setting an example of proper behavior. For instance, if you were coming to see him, I would meet you, dressed quite formally, bring you in, and give you tea. When he was ready to receive you, I’d go in through the back door and say you were here, and he’d say, “Thank you.” I would then come to the door and ask you, “Are you ready?” and you’d say, “Yes.” I’d go to the door and say, “Your Royal Highness,” such that you then think “Royal Highness “ and you call him “sir.” If I were to say, “Oh, Charles, so and so is here,” a different tone would be set. You’d just roll in. There would be no sense of dignity, if you wish.

What I’m trying to establish is, does he ever relax, let his hair down?

Barry: He’s relaxed all the time, as far as he’s concerned.

It sounds as if you’re describing someone of another species.

Barry: Sometimes the royals think they are of another species! They certainly are different, and they’re aware of it.

I’ll give you some personality descriptions. Tell me if they apply to the prince. Would you call him intense?

Barry: Not really, no. He’s not intense in the sense that he feels he must do this, must do that. No. He doesn’t panic if he can’t manage something today. He’ll do it tomorrow.

Yet he doesn’t like surprises — everything has got to be planned?

Barry: Yes.

Scheduled, ordered?

Barry: Yes. That’s the way his life is, you see. He lives by his schedule of appointments and he slots the rest in.


Barry: No. He’s not spoiled at all, because the royals are not allowed to be spoiled. This comes from the basic training of the nursery days. In fact, when I observed the children, I thought their upbringing was far more severe than I remember it being in my home. There’s terrific discipline at the palace. If it were otherwise, you’d have a lot of playboys on your hands. If Andrew had been brought up in a very easy manner, like some of the Middle East royalty, you’d have a very different royal family.

“If you went into the average English town and said, ‘The queen’s rotten,’ they’d be up in arms. You’d have a fist fight, a riot on your hands.”

Yet you’ve spoken of Charles’s Aston Martin, not to mention his polo ponies, the airplanes and boats at his disposal …

Barry: Yes, but he bought the Aston Martin when he was twenty-one. Very few people have Aston Martins, it’s true, but he’s from a well-off family. There are richer — cash richer-people in England, but quite a lot of people when they’re twenty-one have good cars. Certainly the prince wasn’t spoiled as a child and he hasn’t spoiled himself as an adult. In fact, he’s quite the other way. He’s very modest. Penthouse: Does he fire people?

Barry: Yes, eventually. He hates inefficiency. We sacked quite a few people in my time there.

He would fire them himself?

Barry: Never, ever. First of all, you can’t just sack someone in England. It’s against the law. You can’t just say, “You’re fired.” You have to give them three warnings. You have to say, “Look, pull your socks up. You’re getting a warning. Behave — or get out.” But when the time for firing came, the prince would never do it himself. His private secretary would do it. At the end of the day, the person is desperate to appeal to the prince, who, in fact, has instigated his removal. But because the prince hasn’t actually said anything, the person goes away thinking·, “Well, that wicked man in the office is getting rid of me.” Not the prince.

But is the prince himself so competent?

Barry: He is very competent, yes. Let’s face it, he’s had a very privileged upbringing. He’s had a good education. He’s met some of the finest brains in England. He’s been able to learn how to dive, to fly, to do anything he’s wanted, so he’s happy in himself. He’s competent at living.

And equally diligent?

Barry: Insofar as he fulfills all his duties, certainly.

You also call the prince “positively fearless.”

Barry: On a horse, yes, because he’s so confident.

Has he ever been hurt?

Barry: He’s had a couple of good bashes, good falls, yes. Once he cut his chin very badly and had to be stitched up. I have literally had to dress him when he’s been stiff and crawling around. He’s had a couple of good knocks.

You say that Charles is interested in success and self-made money.

Barry: Yes, he loves successful people. When we went to Houston he was especially fascinated by how they did it and what made them do it, that sort of thing. He was fascinated that these people had accumulated all this wealth on their own. We stayed with Anne Armstrong, the former ambassador to England, and people arrived for dinner by private jet. It wasn’t envy on his part; he can match most of these Texans in personal wealth. What it was was that he likes good brains. He’s also slightly interested in the vulgar use of money. He’s not at all showy, you know. Not at all flamboyant. So he’s interested in people who are.

Bright? Intelligent? Quick?

Barry: Very quick. Also very cautious. If you suggest something, he’ll always say, “Oh, that’s very interesting.” He’ll never say yes or no. Just, “That’s very interesting.” He’ll then work out what you’re trying to get to. Twice a year he has a program meeting when he goes through the stuff that he doesn’t want to do. All the letters, if they’re not from nut cases, are sifted through for what fits and what doesn’t, and then he’ll get involved, as long as he’s not going to get involved with what I call a Cowboy organization. That’s how he stays clean. There’s never been any scandal associated with him as far as involvement in bad deals, bad companies, risky things is concerned. So if you come to him and say, “Oh, I’ve got a marvelous project,” he’ll listen to you and say, “Sounds very interesting, thank you. Will you tell somebody in the office?”

Giving himself time to consider it?

Barry: Absolutely. And then, if it smells, somebody in the office will apologize that he hasn’t got the time, thanking you very much for offering. He’ll never say no to you directly, and so you go away with the feeling that it’s not the prince’s fault.

Is he instinctual?

Barry: Oh, totally, yes. Very instinctive. He’s got what I call common sense — more of a commonsense approach than an intellectual attitude toward things.


Barry: Yes, well, sort of. Because the one thing he loves to be most of all is Prince Charles. The Prince of Wales.

No doubt.

Barry: Well, it’s the only thing he knows. He enjoys the privileges, the attention. He enjoys being the center attraction.

At the same time realizing that he’s very much a creation of the press?

Barry: Well, he’d still be there without them.

Yet both he and Diana read their clippings religiously, you say.

Barry: No, he doesn’t. The press office reads it all, and if there’s anything very important, he’ll read about it eventually.

With a sense of complete security?

Barry: Yes. I didn’t think he was so secure when I first joined him. He was a very shy man. The navy changed him completely. That was the first time that he’d been completely on his own·. No policemen, no valets. At Cambridge the prince could still get away weekends and see his friends and go back to the palace. In the navy he was with people who had come from all walks of life. He was away for as long as five months, really on his own. There was no privilege.

So he was reassured of his competence as an individual?

Barry: He asserted himself, yes. Before he went into the navy, back when I started working with him, the palace office· people would be gone by four o’clock, which used to annoy him, but he didn’t do anything about it. He would do anything for a quiet life. When he came back five years later, the whole mechanism of being prince took off again properly.

He began to crack the whip?

Barry: It was a very different Prince of Wales in charge. He had new authority. He’d grown up. He had had a rather silly sense of humor before he went away. He had loved to play practical jokes.

Like what?

Barry: Oh, whoopee cushions — cushions that make noises when you sit on them, that kind of thing. Silly toys. That sort of disappeared as he got older.

Still, there’s no sense of the man as politically committed.

Barry: He has to stay above politics. He’s very well read politically, of course, but at the end of the day he’ll be head of Great Britain no matter what happens politically.

Which is to say he isn’t committed to any particular point of view?

Barry: No, he’s never expressed a political view to me. In the whole time I worked for him, he never said, “Gosh, look what the Labour Party has done,” or “Look what the Conservatives are up to.”

He has no sense of the evil in the world?

Barry: Of the wrongs of the world? Yes, he does.

Of what the world is capable of doing?

Barry: Of course, because he reads a lot of philosophy. For instance, he read a great deal of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer, when Solzhenitsyn came over from Russia. He’s got a great sense of the injustice of what happens to other human beings. The assassination of Lord Mountbatten, his uncle, had a great deal to do with this too.

As you describe him, Charles would seem to be a very nice man who comports himself well, yet isn’t terribly original in his thinking —

Barry: Oh, I’d give him a chance —

He’s thirty-four years old —

Barry: Yes, but his is a job in waiting. This is the great problem of his position.

“…If the prince had a big lunch, he would serve the leftovers at the next meal. … You know, when bananas in the fruit salad go black, you should leave it alone.”

That he functions day to day never knowing when he’ll be king?

Barry: Yes, but he carries on, certainly.

The question of Queen Elizabeth abdicating —

Barry: It won’t happen. The prince says, and he’s quite right, that it’s absolute rubbish. The queen has got the job for life, and life means — literally — life.

So while he knows that he’s going to become head of state, head of the army, the navy, the church, what does he do in the meantime?

Barry: He’s keeping himself busy with his own duties. He never goes around saying, “When I’m in charge, things will be different.” He’d jest about it once or twice, if the food was bad from the kitchen, say, but he’s not wishing the queen out of office.

As for your own resignation, there were rumors that you left because of Di, that and all the traveling.

Barry: Yes. That was one of the reasons, the traveling. Because you can do too much of a good thing. I wanted to slow down, and now that the prince was married, I didn’t want to travel with an extended office or household. The intimacy of traveling, as we did it in the old days, would be gone.

You’re talking of the intimacy between you and the prince?

Barry: Oh, yeah. It was the end of an era. The princess herself wasn’t responsible. It was the overall situation.

What was the prince’s response when you told him you thought it was time for you to go?

Barry: “Are you sure? Go away and think about it.” All sorts of things like that. The evening I made my decision, I just told him that I felt it was time for a change. It was very difficult for him to accept, because he realized that getting married was going to change his life-style. I said to him, “Will you tell the princess?” and he said, “Yes, of course.” So he did. And a day later he’d gone stalking — this is going after stags — and she was in the house. Just myself and the princess, in the kitchen. She doesn’t eat much lunch — just a yogurt or a lettuce leaf. And I said, “Did the prince tell you about my decision?” and she said, “Yes, he did.” And then she said, “Everybody will say we’ve had a marvelous row.” And I said, “I know.” And she said, “At least we know it’s not true,” and that was the end of it. But I think she was relieved in a way — it’s not fair to say she wasn’t. Because it consolidated her position. …

Was she cognizant of the sadness for you and for the prince?

Barry: No, because she couldn’t relate to it. It was no great shock to her. I was going anyway; I couldn’t care less, really, what she thought. It was my decision and that was the end of it.

One final question: what if the pressures on Diana became so great that she was forced to divorce Charles?

Barry: She can’t do that.

Can’t? Why not?

Barry: He wouldn’t give her a divorce. If anything really went wrong between them, they would keep up an appearance, a front. She might go live in the country for a month or two, that sort of thing. There would be no statements. They would still be seen together.

If she broke down, though, what would happen to him emotionally?

Barry: He’d blame himself. He’d be very concerned because he was the one who brought her into it.

Regardless of the fact that the final decision to marry was hers?

Barry: Of course, she obviously thought it would be fine. But now perhaps she’s realizing that it’s not as easy as it looks when you’re all protected inside the palace. It’s okay when you’re shielded by people like me. But when you go out onto the street, you’re there for a reason: you’re a story. You’re there to be seen, to be touched, to be written about and photographed.

So you’re saying that she is forever consigned to this relationship?

Barry: Absolutely forever. As far as the world is concerned. If something goes wrong in ten years’ time, who will know? They’ll still be together, smiling in the car. What they do in their private lives is something we’ll never discover.

We all know the story of Prince Charles’ first marriage (the 1981 “$2 million” one referenced here), how that ended, and what tragedy ultimately befell the family. You may not know that Stephen Barry succumbed to his own much more private tragedy just three years after this article originally published in Penthouse. We do know that Barry’s prediction about divorce in 1983 were proven wrong in 1996, after a lengthy separation. We also now know that this Prince becomes King in 2022 after the passing of his mother. We do not know how the story will end ultimately, but — perhaps sadly for the family — the world will be watching.

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