In 1987, Ken Wharfe was appointed a personal protection officer to Diana. In charge of the Princess’s around-the-clock security at home and abroad, in public and in private, Ken Wharfe became a close friend and loyal confidant who shared her most private moments. After Diana’s death, Inspector Wharfe was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and made a Member of the Victorian Order, a personal gift of the sovereign for his loyal service to her family. His book, Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller. He is a regular contributor with the BBC, ITN, Sky News, NBC, CBS, and CNN, participating in numerous outside broadcasts and documentaries for BBC--Newsnight, Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News, News 24, and GMTV.
My memory of Diana is not her at an official function, dazzling with her looks and clothes and the warmth of her manner, or even of her offering comfort among the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed. What I remember best is a young woman taking a walk in a beautiful place, unrecognized, carefree, and happy.
Diana increasingly craved privacy, a chance “to be normal,” to have the opportunity to do what, in her words, “ordinary people” do every day of their lives--go shopping, see friends, go on holiday, and so on--away from the formality and rituals of royal life. As someone responsible for her security, yet understanding her frustration, I was sympathetic. So when in the spring of the year in which she would finally be separated from her husband, Prince Charles, she yet again raised the suggestion of being able to take a walk by herself, I agreed that such a simple idea could be realized.
Much of my childhood had been spent on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, a county in southern England approximately 120 miles from London; I remembered the wonderful sandy beaches of Studland Bay, on the approach to Poole Harbour.
The idea of walking alone on miles of almost deserted sandy beach was something Diana had not even dared dream about. At this time she was receiving full twenty-four-hour protection, and it was at my discretion how many officers should be assigned to her protection. “How will you manage it, Ken? What about the backup?” she asked. I explained that this venture would require us to trust each other, and she looked at me for a moment and nodded her agreement.
And so, early one morning less than a week later, we left Kensington Palace and drove to the Sandbanks ferry at Poole in an ordinary saloon car. As we gazed at the coastline from the shabby viewing deck of the vintage chain ferry, Diana’s excitement was obvious, yet not one of the other passengers recognized her. But then, no one would have expected the most photographed woman in the world to be aboard the Studland chain ferry on a sunny spring morning in May.
As the ferry docked after its short journey, we climbed back into the car and then, once the ramp had been lowered, drove off in a line of cars and service trucks heading for Studland and Swanage. Diana was driving, and I asked her to stop in a sand-covered area about half a mile from the ferry landing point. We left the car and walked a short distance across a wooded bridge that spanned a reed bed to the deserted beach of Shell Bay. Her simple pleasure at being somewhere with no one, apart from me, knowing her whereabouts was touching to see.
Diana looked out toward the Isle of Wight, anxious by now to set off on her walk to the Old Harry Rocks at the western extremity of Studland Bay. I gave her a personal two-way radio and a sketch map of the shoreline she could expect to see, indicating a landmark near some beach huts at the far end of the bay, a tavern or pub, called the Bankes Arms, where I would meet her.
Larry King (The People's Princess: Cherished Memories of Diana, Princess of Wales, from Those Who Knew Her Best)