Diana’s friends and her brother, Earl Spencer, have bitterly criticised the programme as ‘intrusive’ and damaging to her two sons.So, what is the truth about Sergeant Barry Mannakee’s demise?During the flight to Cannes, she could not stop crying and on arrival, her gown had to be adjusted by her lady-in-waiting and dresser to cover the damage she had inflicted on her own body.Of course, her torment was not known to the outside world.Crucially, Nicola Chopp, the novice driver blamed for his death, has told the Mail she suspects evidence was concocted by the police and that she was put under ‘intense pressure’ to plead guilty in court to a charge of driving without care and attention.Adding to the sense of intrigue, Nicola says an unidentified woman in glasses and driving an estate car was involved, but never traced.
Just like the circumstances surrounding Diana’s own death, those concerning Mannakee’s are riddled with allegations of planted evidence, vanished witnesses and mystery vehicles.
The former royal protection officer left a wife, Susan, a self-employed reflexologist, and two teenage daughters, Clare and Michelle.
An inquest two months later decided his death was caused on a rainy evening in an accident between a Suzuki motorbike on which he was riding pillion and a Ford Fiesta driven by 17-year-old beautician Nicola Chopp, who had recently passed her driving test.
Diana hoped to keep their relationship secret while he was her bodyguard. Mannakee, who was married, was 37 when he was posted to Kensington Palace as the Princess’s personal protection officer in 1985, a year after the birth of Prince Harry and when Diana and Charles’s marriage was already in difficulty.
The night before Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s wedding in July 1986, Diana kissed her two sons goodnight and headed towards her drawing room in Kensington Palace. ‘The two were alone together when a senior member of Charles’s staff unexpectedly popped his head around the door,’ a Palace source has since said.