image                                              Dickie at his 50th birthday thrown by Princess Diana.  THIS photo of me blowing out my 50th birthday cake was taken by Princess Diana at Kensington Palace in 1990.

I felt incredibly privileged when she threw a party in my honour. She loved to surprise people, but I don’t think she’d ever laid on a party for a member of staff before.

By this time, I had been working as press secretary for the Prince a nd Princess of Wales for two years and was able to invite 20 guests, including my second wife Rosemary, my mother Ruth and daughter Victoria. When we arrived, we were shown into Diana’s drawing room, which was homely and covered with family photographs.

Diana joined us minutes later. Rendered completely starstruck, my wife, mother and daughter dipped into curtsies. As an avid ballet enthusiast, the Princess broke the ice by telling Victoria her curtsy was the best.

A champagne reception ensued, followed by lunch in the dining room. But the pièce de résistance was my birthday cake, fashioned in the shape of my mobile phone because I had a reputation for never being without it.

We first met when her engagement to the Prince of Wales was announced and I was working as the court correspondent for LBC News.

Later, when I started working for her, I discovered that she was complicated. If things were going her way, she was fine. But if you contradicted anything she wanted to do, she would freeze you out for days or even weeks.

Mind you, she was in a difficult position. She did wonderful charity work, but at first the media was only interested in the length of her skirt.

That changed in 1986 when she shook hands with an AIDS patient at Middlesex Hospital in London. Not only did it result in a major breakthrough in public perception about the illness, but people also realised how compassionate she was.

Princess Diana with Dickie on a royal engagement at Hendon Police College
Sadly, my job became increasingly difficult as Diana’s marriage deteriorated
The other picture is of us at work on a royal engagement at Hendon Police College in about 1991/2, where Diana looked at police operations and training methods.

Sadly, my job became increasingly difficult as her marriage deteriorated.

Diana denied collaborating with Andrew Morton on his memoir about her and kept me in the dark about her tell-all TV interview with Martin Bashir, which plunged the monarchy into the greatest crisis since the abdication of Edward Vlll.

Shortly after her marriage split, I took on a new job, ending my formal relationship with her. I last saw Diana in 1997, just before she embarked on that fateful holiday to the south of France.

As I was walking towards Kensington Palace, her car approached and she smiled and waved.

Her death came as a terrible blow. I said a final goodbye when her casket was taken to the royal chapel before her funeral and felt nothing but warmth towards her.

I said, ‘Goodbye, ma’am, and thank you,’ before bowing and leaving.”