An excerpt from Prince Harry’s record-breaking memoir, Spare, has become the subject of a new viral video focused on his description of a former royal nanny, identified as Princess Diana’s “rival.”
Harry published his bombshell memoir in January 2023, coming under fire for his inclusion of behind-palace-walls secrets and critical revelations about royal family members, including Prince William, King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
Included in the 410-page account of his life from childhood to the present day, Harry also gave readers an insight into his relationship with his mother, Princess Diana, and how her death in 1997 when he was just 12 years old has impacted him.
Among the influential figures in his life at the time of his mother’s death and the formative years that followed that the prince included in his book was Alexandra “Tiggy” Pettifer (nee Legge-Bourke), his former nanny.
Pettifer was employed by the then Prince Charles after his separation from Diana in 1992 to look after his children when they were in his care. The nanny was a family friend of the royals and became close with Charles and the young princes William and Harry.
Uploaded to TikTok by user, 16o9_, on September 9, an extract from Harry’s audiobook recording of Spare, in which he discusses Pettifer and his mother’s relationship, has been viewed nearly 300,000 times so far.
Captioned “Prince Harry talks about the animosity between Tiggy and Lady Diana,” the prince is heard recounting how Pettifer accompanied him on a visit to Africa in the years after his mother’s death.
After referring to Pettifer as “one of our nannies,” he clarified: “Our favorite nanny, to be accurate, though Tiggy couldn’t stand being called that. She’d bite the head off anyone who tried. ‘I’m not the nanny, I’m your friend!’”
“Mummy, sadly, didn’t see it that way,” he continued.
“Mummy saw Tiggy not as a nanny, but as a rival. It’s common knowledge that Mummy suspected Tiggy was being groomed as her future replacement. (Did Mummy see Tiggy as her Spare?)”
This “common knowledge” could be the prince’s reference to a series of rumors that circulated in the 1990s, suggesting that Pettifer had formed a close relationship with Charles. These rumors included the unfounded suggestion that the nanny had become pregnant with Charles’ baby, later undergoing an abortion.
In 2022, these rumors were pulled once more into public focus, when the BBC apologized to Pettifer after it was revealed they likely started through the journalist Martin Bashir’s efforts to secure his 1995 Panorama interview with Diana.
The High Court awarded damages to Pettifer in July 2022, and a statement read at the court in London by her solicitor detailed that the claims made against the former nanny included: “the very serious and totally unfounded allegations that the claimant was having an affair with HRH Prince of Wales, resulting in a pregnancy which was aborted.
“These allegations were fabricated[…]The claimant did not have an affair with HRH the Prince of Wales, did not become pregnant with his child, and did not have an abortion.”
“It is likely,” the statement continued, “that these false and malicious allegations arose as a result and in the context of BBC Panorama‘s efforts to procure an exclusive interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.”
The hearing of Pettifer’s complaint followed an independent inquiry ordered by the BBC in 2021 which found that Bashir had used “deceitful behavior,” to convince Diana to film the interview which accelerated the deterioration of her marriage.
After Pettifer’s high court damages win, the BBC issued a direct apology to her. the organization’s director-general, Tim Davie, said:
“Following publication of the Dyson Report last year, we have been working with those who suffered as a result of the deceitful tactics used by the BBC in pursuit of its interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, for the Panorama program in 1995, including the matters that were mentioned in court today in respect of Miss Tiggy Legge-Bourke, now Mrs. Alexandra Pettifer.”
“The BBC has agreed to pay substantial damages to Mrs. Pettifer and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize publicly to her, to the Prince of Wales, and to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, for the way in which Princess Diana was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives.”
Pettifer has not spoken in depth publicly about the incident or her relationship with members of the royal family.
The former nanny received a series of affectionate mentions from Harry in his memoir, including recollections of her accompanying him on vacations and hunting expeditions.
The prince did, however, note that following his interview with Oprah Winfrey alongside Meghan Markle in 2021, Pettifer was among those close to him who made their disapproval known.
“Several close mates and beloved figures in my life, including one of (Charles’ friends) Hugh and Emilie’s [Van Cutsem] sons, Emilie herself, and even Tiggy, had chastised me for Oprah,” he wrote.
“‘How could you reveal such things? About your family?’ I told them that I failed to see how speaking to Oprah was any different from what my family and their staffs, had done for decades—briefing the press on the sly.”
James Crawford-Smith is Regalrumination.com‘s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Regalrumination.com‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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