Princess Diana’s Roommate Said She Was Told to Check Her Car for Bombs

  • Princess Diana’s former roommate said the palace gave them no guidance on how to handle the press.
  • Virginia Clarke was a London resident who lived with Diana for two years, before she married Prince Charles.
  • At Diana’s unveiling of the blue plaque, Clarke stated that they were only told to check for car bombs. 

A former roommate of Princess Diana said Buckingham Palace provided them with little guidance on how to deal with the hoards of press following their every move before Diana’s royal engagement to Prince Charles, The Telegraph reported.

Virginia Clarke stated in a speech that they got no advice from Buckingham Palace regarding how to deal with the hoards of press following their move to Diana’s old flat at 60 Coleherne Court, Earls Court, London. She said that they were only given the advice to look under their own cars for any bombs. 

“Interestingly, none of us, including Diana, received any help,” Clarke was a former resident of the London apartment with Diana and two other women from 1979 to 1981. “I’m not sure who might have helped us, but there might have been someone. Some PR or palace person, I don’t know.”

Princess Diana's former flatmate Virginia Clarke unveils a English Heritage blue plaque to Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Coleherne Court, Old Brompton Road, London. Picture date: Wednesday September 29, 2021.

Clarke was present to unveil the blue plaque outside Diana’s apartment on Wednesday.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

“The only thing I remember being told was we should look under our cars for bombs,” Clarke went on. “Sadly none of us had read the handbook for bomb spotting so we didn’t know where to begin with that one.”

At the time of the late Princess of Wales’ engagement, Clarke, then going by her maiden name Pitman, was only 21, according to Tatler. She stated that none of her roommates (including Diana, who was 19 at the time) had any idea how to deal with the sudden shift from an ordinary life to one in public. 

Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997) outside her London flat on Coleherne Court, UK, November 1980.

Clarke claimed that journalists used to peer through the windows at their London apartment.

Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images, Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Everything changed the day Diana met up with Prince Charles she said, according to The Telegraph.

“That was when we were joined by the world’s press,” Clarke said. “I think it’s fair to say we had absolutely no idea how to handle them. They were professional, seasoned reporters who descended on us from everywhere.”

“They were desperate for comments and photographs, looking through the windows,” Clarke said. “We used to call them by their full names. Always ‘Mr’ in some desperate attempt to put some distance between us. We thought if we were polite, we never lied — we just evaded the truth — and smiled, they would be gentle with us.”

“Eventually we had to shut the curtains day and night and push through the crowds to get to work, and it was really intimidating,” She continued. 

Clarke said that Diana enjoyed playing with the media, despite the fact that it can be overwhelming. 

“We formed a team who together began to play this crazy game of avoiding the press,” Clarke said. “We thought it was really funny at the time, and Diana reveled in it.”

Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997, fiancee to the Prince of Wales, leaving her flat at Coleherne Court in Earl's Court, London, 12th November 1980.

At first Diana, according to Clarke, reveled the “cat and mouse” game with the press.

Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Clarke said that time is when Diana “learned to play cat and mouse with press.”

Later in the speech Clarke, who Tatler reports married a banker in a 1991 ceremony attended by the late princess, touched on her former roommate’s life after her 1996 divorce. 

“When she dropped her royal status, it saddened me to realize she no longer had her friends around her and the cat and mouse game became very lonely and not quite so funny.”

However, she said Diana would’ve been “thrilled” to have her own blue plaque. According to English Heritage, the charity running the scheme, blue plaques in London symbolize a link between “people of the past with the buildings of the present.”

“Those were happy days for all of us and the flat was always full of laughter,” Clarke said, according to English Heritage. “Diana went off to become so much to so many. It’s wonderful that her legacy will be remembered in this way.”

Insider reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment but they did not respond immediately. 

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