Was Princess Diana’s First Love Her Bodyguard Barry Mannakee?

Could the royal family be responsible for the murder of a former bodyguard? Princess Diana thought so before her death, although no evidence was ever found to support the story. So why would Princess Diana think someone wanted him dead? Because she loved him. Here’s the fascinating story of a love affair between Princess Diana and her bodyguard: Barry Mannakee. 

Princess Diana confessed to the affair in her own words

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

In recordings made shortly before her death, and shown during a Channel 4 documentary, titled Diana: In her Own Words, the princess made a shocking revelation. She claimed that her “greatest love” was not Prince Charles or Dodi Fayed, but instead it was “someone who worked in this environment.” 

Experts believe that Princess Diana was referring to Mannakee, who worked as a Royal Protection Officer in her service for just one year, starting in 1985. After authorities begin to believe his relationship with Princess Diana was inappropriate, he was transferred from his post at Kensington Palace to the Diplomatic Protection Group in central London. 

On the recording, Princess Diana admitted that she would have been happy to give everything up and go off to live with him. But like Princess Diana, Mannakee was not free to go. He was married with two children. Regardless of that fact, Princess Diana was head over heels for him. “I just, you know, wore my heart on my sleeve,” Princess Diana said. “I was only happy when he was around.”

During this same time period, Princess Diana’s husband, Prince Charles, was busy carrying on his own affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. A fact that Princess Diana was aware of, and devastated about. 

Princess Diana believed Barry Mannakee’s death was her fault

Shortly after he transferred to London, Mannakee was involved in a motorcycle accident. He was the passenger on a Suzuki motorbike, driven by his friend, Officer Steven Peat. The bike collided with a car, and Mannakee was killed almost instantly. Both Peat and the driver of the car survived. 

His death was investigated and deemed an accident. However, on the recording, Princess Diana revealed that she thought there was more to it. “I think he was bumped off,” she said. “But here we are.” Until her own death in 1997, Princess Diana believed that he was killed to avoid embarrassment to the royal family. 

When the recordings of Princess Diana’s confessions aired in 2004, the investigation into Mannakee’s death was reopened to investigate the princess’ claims. No evidence was ever found to support her theory. But Princess Diana believed it and felt responsible. “I should have never played with fire, and I did and I got very burnt,” she said. 

After Mannakee’s death, Princess Diana visited the area where his ashes were scattered and laid flowers. She described his death as “the biggest blow of my life” and also admitted that she had dreams about him. 

Was the royal family responsible for Barry Mannakee’s death?

Just like with Princess Diana’s own death, conspiracy theories continue to thrive. Theorists have long tried to prove that Mannakee’s death was arranged and that there was something to Princess Diana’s claims. They claim that the royal family or the British government was somehow responsible, because of his relationship with Princess Diana.

Reports of a “mystery car” on the scene perpetuated the story, with believers insisting the driver may have been an agent of the government. But it’s since been proven that the car was only driven by a concerned citizen, who stopped to assist when he saw the accident. 

Although Mannakee’s death was only an accident, there’s no doubt it had a huge impact on Diana’s life. Her belief that she somehow contributed probably played a role in her depression and mistrust of the royal family. Even after her divorce from Prince Charles, Princess Diana never remarried. It’s heartbreaking to think her paranoia may have made her more cautious around who she became involved with, and possibly even kept her from the happiness she deserved.