Aside from their famous royal relatives, the blue-blooded members of The British Firm are surrounded by lesser known, but just as intriguing people. From aristocrats to well-informed staffers, their circles run bigger than you’d think—and Netflix’s The Crown has now given us another person to ponder: Dr. James Colthurst.
The medical professional’s strongest ties with the royal family existed in the early 1990s when he became the middle man for Princess Diana and the biographer Andrew Morton, who secretly wrote the 1992 book, Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words.
With The Crown‘s fifth season set to cover off this tumultuous period for the royal family, now is as good a time as ever to do a little deep dive into who Colthurst actually is, and what his relationship with Diana was really like.
Who is Dr. James Colthurst?
Dr. James Colthurst is an Irish born medical professional who had a close friendship with Princess Diana in the early 1990s. He was a go-between for Princess Diana and Andrew Morton when they conversed back and forward via tape recordings in order for Morton to write the Princesses tell-all book.
Colthurst supported Diana through the process by sitting with her as she answered questions written by Morton. Colhurst would then deliver these recordings to Morton without the Palace’s knowing.
How did Dr. James Colthurst and Princess Diana become friends?
Diana met James before she married Prince Charles. They crossed paths while Diana worked as a nanny in London and mixed in similar circles. James, who was an Eton graduate and came from a wealthy family, was known as a “minor aristocrat”.
How did Dr. James Colthurst help Princess Diana?
Colthurst was a confidant for Princess Diana and helped her speak to the difficult topics that Morton would later cover off in his bestselling book about the Princess.
Colthurst has previously said that Diana was “enormously enthusiastic” to tell her story. A typical day during that time would see the doctor cycle to the royal with a recorder in his briefcase, then the pair would record answers to several of Morton’s questions before lunch. After they had finished eating they would finish the last questions off and wrap for the day.
He previously told The Daily Mail that he would sometimes listen back to the recordings at a cafe: “All around everyone’s eating bacon and eggs chatting away, and I put these headphones on and turn on the tape recorder and listen to Diana talking about bulimia nervosa, which I’d never heard of, talking about her suicide attempts, talking about this woman called Camilla Parker Bowles. It was like entering a parallel universe, I walked out of that café thinking, ‘Wow what on Earth have I heard?'”
Why did Diana decide to give Andrew Morton information?
Colhurst has previously explained that Diana’s recordings for Morton were a way for her to deal with the “pain, rage, frustration, anger” she felt towards the royal family.
“You were swept away with it. It was very compelling,” he added in the Daily Mail interview.
According to the doctor, Princes Charles’ staffers were concerned that Diana was overshadowing the future King, and therefore there were attempts to tone down her presence within The Firm.
“Her character was being written down—as she saw it, a campaign to sideline her and remove her from the boys [William and Harry].”
He added that a part of the reason why Diana was compelled to speak out was because she feared she would lose her sons.
“That was her worry, that she was going to lose the boys—overriding, above everything else, that was the concern—and that they were using a character run-down as a means of making that happen, an understandable next step.”
What happened to Dr. James Colthurst?
It has been reported that Colthurst married and had two daughters, and he now lives in Berkshire, per The Sun.
The publication also reports that Colthurst is now the director of a medical research firm. He has spoken several times previously about his friendship with Diana, including in a 2017 Channel 4 documentary named, Diana: In Her Own Words.
The Crown season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.