All she ever wanted was a happy life as an ordinary loving wife and mother. But Tiggy Legge-Bourke has never been able to escape the consequences of his time as Prince William and Prince Harry’s nanny.
Instead of the happiest memories, his years with the royal family are now marred by a dark legacy. Outrageous and false claims that she had an affair with Prince Charles – and an abortion – would have helped convince Princess Diana to give her Panorama interview to Martin Bashir.
Yesterday, those allegations took an even more grotesque turn with the claim that Bashir showed the princess a fake ‘receipt’ for Tiggy’s termination of pregnancy.
Outrageous and false claims that she had an affair with Prince Charles – and an abortion – helped convince Princess Diana to give her Panorama interview to Martin Bashir
As reported by the Mail, the shocking statement was presented in evidence to Lord Dyson, the distinguished former Supreme Court justice who is investigating the methods Bashir used to secure his exclusive interview – and how the BBC got them. would have covered. up.
Of all the figures drawn into the vortex of Panorama’s story, certainly none was less deserving than Tiggy, who is now married and has two sons and two step-sons.
As a young woman hired by Prince Charles to take care of William and Harry, her job should have been innocently simple. During breaks with their father and during school vacations, Tiggy was recruited to entertain them.
She was with them on the ski slopes of the Swiss resort town of Klosters, on yachts during summer cruises and was photographed driving a Land Rover as a gun-carrying Harry took shots on rabbits through the passenger window.
But for Princess Diana, Tiggy’s job was neither innocent nor straightforward.
Diana was wary of the former larger than life schoolteacher who seemed so indispensable to her ex-husband and who had quickly become William and Harry’s surrogate mother.
All she ever wanted was a happy life as an ordinary loving wife and mother. But Tiggy Legge-Bourke could never escape the consequences of his time as Prince William and Prince Harry’s nanny
The young woman had formed a close and loving relationship with the boys, and Diana, unsettled by her presence, was jealous.
Over the months, Tiggy found herself more and more drawn into the royal wedding crisis.
All the same, it took a dramatic leap to change the nanny’s position from an irreproachable spectator to that of a so-called active participant.
As the Mail revealed last year, this coincided with the arrival of Martin Bashir, who had been introduced to the Princess by her brother, Earl Spencer, in September 1995 – two months before the interview in which she affirmed: “there were three of us. in this marriage ”.
During their reunion, Bashir produced an extraordinary dossier of smears on Prince Charles and other royals calculated to fuel Diana’s paranoia. They included the mind-boggling claim that the prince was “in love” with Tiggy and that the two were planning a vacation together.
As absurd as they sounded, Diana believed them. Indeed, the princess became so obsessed with the idea that Miss Legge-Bourke was pregnant with Charles – and had lost the baby – that she confronted her about it at a Christmas party for the staff of the palace.
Tiggy has threatened legal action and Sir Robert (now Lord) Fellowes, the Queen’s private secretary and Diana’s brother-in-law, has opened an investigation. Her investigations proved the princess’ claims to be baseless.
According to sources, Lord Dyson was informed that Princess Diana was convinced of the abortion after Bashir showed his papers claiming to be a receipt for the termination.
Shortly after meeting the BBC man, the princess had a conversation with her lawyer, Lord Mishcon, in which she told him about the abortion and that she would ‘get’ a certificate soon ‘.
Lord Mishcon’s note on this conversation was read during the London inquest into Diana’s death.
Since details emerged in November of last year, royal assistants, servants and friends of the princess have all found themselves tarnished by Bashir’s sensational record.
But none have been as disparaged as Tiggy, who was just 26 when she started working for the Prince of Wales in 1993, on the recommendation of Prince William’s godmother, Lady Susan Hussey, a lady of honor of the queen.
Tiggy, who was paid £ 18,000 a year, had an impeccable relationship. Her mother and aunt were both ladies-in-waiting to Princess Anne; her brother had been a page of honor for the queen; and another ancestor was Lord Chamberlain of King George V.
Charles himself used to shoot at the Glanusk Estate of Legge-Bourkes in South Wales and he knew the family well.
Tiggy’s job, however, would require both diplomacy and discretion, and it wasn’t long before there were clashes with Diana. As endless photographs emerged of Tiggy playing bear sticks with the boys and other rough and tumultuous pursuits, Diana wondered about hiring a male nanny as a surrogate father for the time the two boys were with her.
Outdoor and passionate about country activities, especially shooting and fishing, Tiggy at Heathfield, Ascot Girls’ Boarding School, is remembered for being “reliable, capable and very responsible – although not at all. all academic ”.
In many ways, Tiggy was just what William and Harry needed – part maid, part big sister, part mother.
But her closeness to boys sparked maternal jealousy in Diana, especially when she learned that Tiggy liked to call boys “my babies.”
She thought the nanny had too much influence – not only on the boys but also on Charles.
It certainly didn’t help matters when, recklessly, Tiggy said of his royal duties: “I give them what they need: fresh air, a gun and a horse. She (Diana) gives them a tennis racket and a bucket of popcorn at the movies.
But after Martin Bashir’s entry into the princess’s life, Diana was convinced that Tiggy and Charles were having an affair. Even though she once told me that Charles “would never sleep with a servant”, she became convinced that it was true.
Many believe it was Bashir who nurtured this frenzied belief.
“It was ridiculous, but at the time, Diana was under siege and felt isolated,” says a friend.
Also, it coincided with the fact that Charles was encouraged by some courtiers to abandon Camilla, and it is easy to see how the idea of the Tiggy personality, who was single and well connected, coming closer to the prince could take. a hold in the mind of the princess. “.
Unfairly criticized: Tiggy with Charles at Balmoral in August 1995
The two had been seen kissing – chaste kisses, just kisses on the cheek – but they were the gossip talking. While his staff dismissed them as the natural, loving actions of an older man for a younger woman he had known since she was a child, Princess Diana was not convinced.
Trenchantly, Diana noted that Charles had never been known to give even the most superficial display of public affection to white-haired nanny Olga Powell, a mainstay of the Kensington Palace manger since William was born.
The die that was to lead to the Christmas feast showdown has been cast. The seven words Diana said to Tiggy – “I’m sorry to hear about the baby” – sparked an uproar. Tiggy fled the party in tears, and days later libel lawyers wrote to the princess asking her to withdraw her comments and apologize.
That apology never came and details of the princess’ obsession only emerged during the inquest into her death, which also heard suggestions that Diana believed Charles wanted her dead to allow her to marry. Tiggy.
A more fearful character might never have recovered from such a confrontation, but Tiggy was made of stronger things. So strong, in fact, that some time later the two women managed to maintain a civilized telephone conversation.
In fact, Tiggy took to the skies in those dark days after Diana’s death in Paris, offering solace and consolation to the princes, and in particular to Harry, who was devoured by grief.
“The truth is, she never wanted to replace their mother, but rather protect them from the effects of their parents’ quarrel,” says a friend. And she did it pretty well – winning the love of William and Harry, as well as the gratitude of the Royal Family.
She continued to work for the Royal Family until 1999 when, at age 34, she married Charlie Pettifer, a former Coldstream Guards officer. He now works in the private security world, guarding Somali pirate merchant ships in the Indian Ocean.
William and Harry were at their wedding in Wales.
The couple converted their Brecon Beacons home into an upscale Bed & Breakfast for £ 110 a night. Guests describe Tiggy as a “sensational hostess”, full of “generosity and kindness”.
In the nearby Usk River, which is teeming with brown trout and is where she taught princes to throw a fly, Tiggy gives lessons to guests – “the best fun you can have with your clothes on,” he said. – she once joked about fishing.
But for the 25th anniversary of last year’s Panorama interview and the revelations that Bashir used fake bank statements to get first to Earl Spencer and then to his sister, perhaps the monstrous claims about Tiggy were have remained a relatively forgotten chapter of Charles and Diana’s marriage. saga.
Instead, Tiggy found herself at the center of allegations of vile slurs used to entice a vulnerable Diana to give an interview that she went to her grave in largely regretting.
Unable to defend herself publicly, Tiggy resorted to a characteristic stiff upper lip, sure she knew she retained the lasting affection of the Royal Family, and in particular William and Harry, who invited her to be the godmother. of his son Archie.
How tragic she is, as she prepares Ty’r Chanter (it means House Of The Singer), when the lockdown ends and she is able to accommodate guests, Tiggy finds herself in Diana’s shadow again.