Princess Diana reportedly didn't know that her call was being recorded at that time. When it was released it was an utter shock to her and the royal family.
Princess Diana was someone who was loved immensely by everyone around the world. Despite being from the royal family, she made herself approachable to the public. Even now, she receives the same amount of love and respect that she did until her tragic and sudden death in 1997.
Though her life wasn't less than a fairytale, she suffered through her fair share of emotional troubles and mental trauma. Even though she was constantly followed by the paparazzi, her minute to minute activities were printed and telecasted across tabloids and news channels, there was one which blew up too much. It was her call to a mystery man on New Years' Eve night, 1989.
According to Honey Nine, Diana was with her royal family at Sandringham when she answered the call from a mystery man who was none other than James Gilbey. What was supposed to be an intimate and private call between longtime friends, quickly turned into a media circus that upset not only Diana but the entire royal family because it was being secretly recorded.
Gilbey was a British native who had been friends with the beautiful Diana since childhood, reported Pop Sugar. A Lotus car dealer, he was rumored to be Diana's lover during the time her marriage with Prince Charles was on the rocks, as the Prince was having an affair with then-Camila Parker-Bowles.
The secretly recorded tapes with Diana's alleged lover were released to the press in 1992, reportedly by the British Intelligence agency GCHQ. But it was revealed that the conversation recorded was in 1989 and since then everything between them was over. The tapes were dubbed as "Squidgygate" by the media because Gilbey called Diana "Squidgy" along with "darling" on a number of occasions during the call.
The conversation that initially began like a catch-up call between friends soon turned intimate after Gibley asked Diana for a kiss. According to the transcript printed in the paper, the conversation began with Gibley asking Diana how her day was and she replied, "I was very bad at lunch and I nearly started blubbing. I thought: Bloody hell, the things I have done for this f*****g family."
Then Gibley was recorded saying "Kiss me, Darling," to which both of them replied with kissing sounds over the phone. He then asks again for a kiss saying, "Kiss me, please?" and then continues, "Do you know what I'm going to be imagining I'm doing tonight, at about 12 'o clock? Just holding you close to me. It'll have to be delayed action, for 48 hours!"
And at one point Gibley reportedly said, "I love you" to which Diana replied, "You are the nicest person in the whole wide world."
According to News.com, the conversation was first recorded by Cyril Reenan, a 70-year-old retired bank manager. He claimed on January 4, four days after the duo chatted that he recorded it through his home set-up. He then contacted The Sun and sold the tape. But Reenan wasn't the only one who had the recording. Jane Norgrove, a 25-year-old typist, also recorded Diana and Gilbey's chat.
Despite having the tapes, The Sun chose not to publish the recordings but Norgrove had sold the tapes to Richard Kay at the Daily Mail and the National Enquirer’s London bureau and so in 1992, the National Enquirer broke the bombshell story which was then followed by all the other publications.
The entire transcript of Diana and Gilbey’s chatter was published and readers could even call up a special premium phone line to pay to listen to the audio. Reenan and Norgrove had supposedly picked up the frequency of the phone call even though the recordings were made days apart. This gave rise to the theory that Diana's phone was in reality bugged.
Diana's former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe, claimed that the recording was done not by accident but that it was strategic, reported Honey Nine. During the inquest into Diana's death in 2008, he said, "Diana did say to me on a number of occasions she felt she and other members of the family were being monitored."
He claimed that a British secret service agent had recorded the personal conversation of Diana and Gilbey and then broadcasted it on a loop in hope that someone would hear it, realize who the two were, and report it to the media.
Some royal experts also suggested that it was unlikely for someone to record the calls days apart from each other with basic equipment.
The Daily Mail reported that after the release of the tape with the intimate conversation, the Queen wasn't too pleased. It was proof of the marriage troubles that Prince Charles and Diana were having. Wharfe during the inquest said that Diana herself had told him that the Queen was "upset" and had ordered an inquiry. Not long after this, another scandal hit the royal family when Prince Charles' private and intimate phone conversation with Camilla was leaked.
While Diana and Gibley never confirmed or denied the phonecall, many claimed that the recording was altered.