Back in November 1980, The Mirror reported that Prince Charles had been on Royal duties around Wiltshire, when a blonde woman, speculation claimed it was Lady Diana, had been smuggled onto the train in secret.
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A sex scandal wholeheartedly denied
According to The Mirror’s report, after Lady Diana had been smuggled aboard the Royal train, ‘the couple whose friendship has captured the country's imagination’ enjoyed ‘hours alone together’. The newspaper was clearly insinuating that the pair had slept together.
According to Express, Penny Junor, author of The Duchess: The Untold Story, claims that Lady Diana denied the late-night rendezvous but the editor at The Sunday Mirror was ‘so convinced the story was accurate that he published it anyway’.
Prince Charles was reportedly furious with the newspaper. According to his butler at the time, the Prince said:
It's rubbish and it has put Lady Diana in such a bad light.
The story was such a scandal because, according to NZ Herald, a prerequisite for a future Princess of Wales was that she needed to be a virgin. Lady Diana denied the claims. She spoke to The Daily Mail, shortly after the alleged incident, stating:
I was sooo shocked. I simply couldn't believe it. I've never been anywhere near the train, let alone in the middle of the night.
Despite pushback from Buckinghan Palace, the newspaper didn’t retract the publication and refused to print an apology. The editor claimed his source was reliable because it was a policeman who was part of the Royal train’s security.
However, according to Express, only eight days after the Royal train sex scandal hit the headlines, Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana, and they were married the following year.
A mysterious Christmas card
According to rumours, the editor of The Sunday Mirrorreceived a Christmas card from Woodrow Wyatt, politician and close friend of the Queen Mother, claiming that the blonde woman in question wasn’t Lady Diana but Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles’s lover.
The card reportedly read:
It must have been Camilla.
Other claims say the card read:
I think you'll find it was Camilla.
Indeed, the train was located only 30km away from Camilla’s country house on the nights in question.
However, several Royal biographers are less than convinced by this version of events because they believe it would have been impossible to mistake 19-year-old Lady Diana and thirty-something Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Tina Brown, the author of The Diana Chronicles, believes it is practically impossible to mistake ‘the light-voiced 19-year-old girl of unusual height with a squat woman in her 30s who spoke in a distinctive baritone’.
On top of this, the author also believes that had it been Camilla on the train, Lady Diana would have talked about it in her many tell-all confessionals. She wrote:
If it was Camilla, why didn't Diana include the incident in her remorseless narrative of marital torture and betrayal in any of her confessional gut-spilling for Andrew Morton or Martin Bashir?
It is a scandal that will remain a mystery, according to Penny Junor, as ‘no one has ever got to the bottom of’ it.
- Express: Christmas card that revealed the truth about Charles and Camilla's illicit train tryst
- NZ Herald: Charles, Di and the love train - The royal sex scandal The Crown left out