A look behind the curtain. Former bodyguard Lee Sansum shared stories about his time working for Princess Diana in his new book, Protecting Diana: A Bodyguard’s Story.
“My time with the princess, it was only a short period in my life, but it had a bigger impact on my life forever,” Sansum exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the Tuesday, August 30, release. ”I think because of the 25th anniversary of her death coming up soon, people are just interested in the princess all over the world.”
Diana died in 1997 at age 36 in a tragic car accident. The bodyguard, for his part, will “never forget” meeting Diana for the first time when he was hired to work one of her vacations following her split from Prince Charles.
“Before I went out to St. Tropez, I already knew the princess was coming. Nobody else did, but the security team,” he told Us. “She was an amazing lady and what really caught my attention is she was just a normal down-to-earth lady and it wasn’t what I expected. I don’t know what I expected. She loved her boys. You could tell she cared for people, all the staff, everybody she met. She smiled; she treated them kindly. She was funny. We had some great conversations, and she was a normal person.”
Sansum told Us that he is “trained to see nonverbal communications in people” and is “quite good at picking up if anybody’s hiding something or there’s an agenda,” but Diana was “just an amazing, lovely lady.”
He continued: “She was a caring mother. She loved her boys. She loved watching them play. She loved playing with them. She loved watching Harry [be a] bit of a naughty boy. I think we call them naughty boys, [but] I call ’em a free child and I think she was a free child too.”
Prince William was 15 when his mother died, while Prince Harry was only 12.
“She used to, you know, [take] delight in watching him get up to his little antics and spraying the paparazzi with his jet ski, which I taught him to do,” Sansum said. “It was clear that she loved her boys.”
According to the author, Diana planned to relocate to America prior to her death to get away from the U.K. media.
“She was quite adamant that in America, the press liked her. The people liked her, and she liked the place,” he told Us. “I know a lot of people have said she was depressed. She was anxious. She was paranoid. Well, you know what? I kind of get why. She couldn’t enjoy her life. Things weren’t normal. She had no one to turn to.”
Sansum noted that Diana didn’t speak with him about her relationship with Prince Charles.
“[Once] there was one picture in the newspaper in one of the British tabloids at the time that showed a picture of the princess — a lovely picture. And then they had one of Camilla, which wasn’t a very nice picture. And I think the headline was, ‘He chose this for that,’” he recalled to Us. “It was a very crude comment and we saw that newspaper that morning and when the princess came down for a chat in the morning on the beach, which she used to do, you know, I did mention to her, ‘Have you seen the headlines?’ because I knew it would stir the paparazzi up. That was the only reason I made the comment and the princess said, ‘Well, it’s his choice. I moved on.’ Didn’t even comment any further in it. And I thought, you know, what a good comment.”
Protecting Diana is available now. Scroll through for more from the book: