Was Andrew Morton's Diana book an autobiography and how many copies did it sell? Diana: Her True Story explained

It detailed the late Princess's battle with bulimia and depression

Andrew Morton posing next to his Diana book Diana: Her True Story
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Andrew Morton's Diana book remains one of the most talked about works of all time - and we've explored how the book came to be, it's success and secrets as it's dramatised in The Crown season 5.

Lifting the lid on her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, Diana: Her True Story was by all accounts a publishing phenomenom that transformed public opinion for the princess back in the nineties. The project, made possible by the help of Princess Diana’s friend Dr. James Colthurst, featured shocking revelations of the Princess's life behind palace walls - detailing mental health problems, extra-marital affairs and some scathing remarks on Charles and Diana's wedding day.

Published five years before Princess Diana's death, it remains to be one of the most accurate accounts of her short life. And this is in part due to information coming to light after her death, which confirmed that Diana herself was involved with the biography...

Was Andrew Morton's Diana book an autobiography?

Essentially, yes Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story is an autobiography. This is because the personal information within the book came from Diana herself - which she recorded on tapes and passed on to Morton.

The book shocked audiences for it's disclosure of Diana's bulimia nerviosa struggle and how the Princess had made five suicide attempts due to her unhappiness. It also publicised the affair between Diana's husband Charles and his now-second wife Camilla Parker Bowles.

Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words (Paperback)

Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words (Paperback)

RRP: £6.94 | View at Amazon

Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words allowed her to give her own account of life as a royal. The Princess's memory lives on, as does the public and press interest in her. This world bestseller bears testimony to Diana's life, finally allowing her to have her say. It is the closest we will ever come to her autobiography.

"This biography is unique in that the story contained in its pages would never have appeared had it not been for the wholehearted co-operation of Diana, the late Princess of Wales," reads the acknowledgement section of the book written by Morton. 

Following Princess Death's tragic passing, the book was re-issued to reflect Diana's involvement in the Andrew Morton book. It became known as Diana: Her True Story — in Her Own Words from October 1997 onwards and is regarded as the closest thing to an autobiography by Diana. The reissued book contains edited transcripts of Diana's tapes alongside Morton's written questions.

Morton received some criticism at the time for confirming Diana's involvement in the project after her death - especially as she denied any collaboration taking place in life. However, as Morton explained on ITV's Richard & Judy in 1997: "I've got a responsibility to people out there who want to understand Diana."

Did Diana work with Andrew Morton?

Yes, as depicted in The Crown, Diana worked with Andrew Morton - albeit not directly. The two worked via mutual friend Dr James Colthurst, who would pass on Morton's questions and tapes to Diana before handing them back to Morton.

According to the Toronto Sun, Diana used the nickname 'Noah' for Morton - which was a joke based on an American paper's reference to him as a "notable author and historian." Using Colthurst as a go-between also aided Diana's deniability, so that she could say she had never met Andrew Morton.

There were 6 1-hour long tapes in total which Morton would transcribe and use as material for the book. Reflecting on the book 25 years on in The Times, Morton shared how he "listened with mounting astonishment to the unmistakable voice of the world’s most famous woman as she poured out a tale of woe and misery."

Andrew Morton today with the Diana book

(Image credit: Getty)

It wasn't just Diana that Morton worked with to produce Diana: Her True Story. The news journalist also consulted with Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, plus close friends James Gilbey and Carolyn Bartholomew (who happens to be Prince Harry's godmother). 

"The story is based on lengthy, tape-recorded interviews with Diana, supplemented by the testimony of her family and friends," Morton acknowledges in the book. "Like Diana, they spoke with honesty and frankness in spite of the fact it meant laying aside the ingrained habits of discretion and loyalty which proximity to royalty invariably engenders. My thanks for their co-operation are therefore all the more heartfelt and sincere."

When was Diana: Her True Story written?

Diana: Her True Story was originally written and published in July 1992. Two other editions of the book were later printed: Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words (re-issued 1997) and Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words Fully Revised 25th Anniversary Edition (2017).

A few months after the book was published, Morton gave an interview with The New York Times. "Checkout girls in the supermarket get more training for their jobs than Diana did. And that antipathy has been allowed to go on for 10 years," he famously said, sharing his sympathies for Diana and the situation she was placed in. 

"Eventually you would have thought they would come around to examine the problem. But nothing gets tackled until it becomes a crisis, which is a fundamental weakness in the organization."

How many copies did Diana: Her True Story sell?

The first edition of Andrew Morton's book titled Diana: Her True Story sold over 5 million copies when published in 1992. Since then, the book is reported to have sold over 7 million copies in 80 different countries, being translated into 29 different languages.

In an interview with The Telegraph in 2015, Morton shared how he had profited from the book. 'I made £1m from Diana's story, initially,' he said. 

Whilst his net worth has never been confirmed, ghgossip estimates it as $1.5 million in 2022.

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.