Over tea with an old friend at Windsor Castle the other day, the Queen was talking about her grandchildren and how well they were doing.
She went through all eight of them, but when the names of William and Harry came up, there was a pause — and a smile.
‘Perhaps, after all, we have rather a lot to thank Diana for,’ she said.
Within those surprising words lies a heart-warming change in attitude by the Queen towards the daughter-in-law whose turbulent marriage to Prince Charles brought the monarchy almost to its knees.
The Queen, pictured left, is said to have had a heart-warming change towards the late Princess Diana, right
When Diana, left, was alive the Queen felt she was a ‘misfit’, according to friends, who didn’t contribute
When Diana was alive, the Queen’s friend says, ‘she felt the pretty girl was a misfit who didn’t quite contribute to the things they did and what they wanted her to do in the family.
‘There was no real compatibility. Initially she was sympathetic, but later on I don’t think she felt sorry for her, not really.’
These, you may think, sound rather harsh sentiments, but we must not forget that they are rooted in difficult and anxious times.
Certainly, no one could have imagined back in those divisive years that now, as the Queen approaches her 90th birthday, she would look back on Diana with a certain gratitude.
‘She would never say now that Diana hasn’t contributed to the family,’ says the friend.
‘She sees how much Diana radiates out of William and Harry and the effect they have on ordinary people. It is Diana that they see. That sense of fun, that easy way with people.’
Late in life, having battled through seemingly endless domestic and constitutional anxieties, the Queen can at last view her remaining years with contentment and relief.
But now Her Majesty is believed to look back on her former daughter-in-law with fondness. They are pictured here on Derby Day at Epsom in 1987
Diana, right, was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 and the Queen, centre, was criticised over her response
She can even look back on Diana almost with a certain fondness, because, thanks to the Princess, the future of the monarchy is set to be in popular hands.
So, against all the odds, it seems there is a happy ending to one of the unhappiest episodes in the Queen’s 64-year reign.
For this major, ground-breaking series, which begins today to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, we have spoken to dozens of people in her life, including members of her family, her friends and courtiers past and present, as well as below-stairs staff.
What emerges is a uniquely intimate insight into the private world, and thoughts, of our longest-reigning monarch — a woman very few really know.
In her own quiet way, the Queen sees the irony of her changing view of Diana.
After all, how different the future might look today had Charles married a girl who embraced the old-style stiff formality of ‘The Firm’ instead of the free-spirited ‘misfit’ who knelt down to cuddle shattered children and held the hands of Aids victims.
When Diana went to tell the Queen that she wanted to ‘get involved’ with Aids in the hope that she could help fund research into the then killer disease, the Queen’s response was distinctly unenthusiastic. ‘Can’t you do something nice?’ she asked.
The Queen, pictured with Diana and grandsons William, left, and Harry, right, apparently told the Princess ‘Can’t you do something nice’ when she told her she wanted to help people suffering from Aids
They are pictured here on a much happier occasion on Diana’s wedding day to Prince Charles in 1981
Those were times, of course, when attitudes towards Aids were very different. As Diana’s former police bodyguard, Inspector Ken Wharfe, recalls: ‘The Princess wasn’t put off by the Queen’s reaction. She told me she’d told Her Majesty that it was “important work”.
‘Believe me, Diana wasn’t the airhead she was sometimes portrayed as. She knew what she was talking about when it came to Aids.’
To the Queen’s credit, she has privately conceded that Diana was right and that the huge strides in Aids research, which have led to drugs that enable its victims to live relatively normal lives, owe much to the Princess drawing attention to the syndrome and breaking down prejudices.
But today, just as it was during her traumatic marriage to Charles, it is Diana’s long-term effect on the monarchy that concerns the Queen most of all.
For years she has worried endlessly about the future of the crown that came to her only because of her Uncle David’s (Edward VIII) selfish abdication.
Yes, her son’s happiness was important to her. But for the Queen, even when Charles’s marital woes were at their height, the future of the monarchy — and the continuity of the Windsor dynasty — transcended everything.
What is remarkable is that after the bitterness and tears of the Diana years, and how they rocked the monarchy, she now recognises that the institution’s security owes a great deal to Diana’s legacy.
And this is the girl who, in a moment of exasperation, the Queen once described as ‘quite mad’.
The Queen and Princess Diana share similar style ideas even though they stand far apart at the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 1990
Her Majesty pictured with another former daughter-in-law Sarah Ferguson, centre, at Sandringham for the christening of Princess Eugenie
‘I think the Queen’s earned a happy ending, don’t you?’ declares her first cousin and lifelong friend Mrs Margaret Rhodes, who herself was 90 in June and lives in a cottage in Windsor Great Park where the Queen often drops in for a chat.
‘My goodness, with the break-up of Charles’s marriage and those of the other children Andrew and Anne, she’s had a bit of a basinful. No wonder she’s so close to Edward’s lovely wife, Sophie. It upset her terribly that the others made such a mess of their marriages.’
Intriguingly, what upset her more than anything up to the break-up of the Waleses’ marriage were pictures in the newspapers of Andrew’s bikini-clad wife Sarah — the Duchess of York — having her toes sucked by American lover John Bryan beside a swimming pool at a villa in the South of France.
‘The Queen is very protective towards Andrew and she was deeply wounded on his behalf that he had been made to look such a cuckolded fool before the entire world,’ says one close figure.
By contrast, her distress at the publication of the toe-curling ‘Camillagate’ tape, in which the Prince of Wales made lavatorial references in conversation with his mistress Mrs Parker Bowles, was, says one close figure, ‘relatively mild’.
As for the ‘Squidgy’ tape, in which Diana talked to a man friend of how the Queen Mother was always looking at her ‘with a strange look in her eyes’, well, that was just Diana.
Pictured left to right, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Diana and the Duchess of Kent, Prince William and Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace in 1990
The scars of Charles and Diana’s, pictured centre with William and the Queen Mother, marriage ‘remain impossible to erase’ for the Queen
These crises have come and gone. But the scars of the Waleses’ marriage remain impossible to erase entirely, despite the popularity of William, Kate and their children, and Harry.
In the Queen’s mind, the whole nightmare was once unimaginable. Back in 1980, when Charles was bringing the 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer into the Royal Family, the Queen believed the match was, to all intents and purposes, ‘inspired’.
On paper, at least, Diana fitted the needs of the Windsor dynasty, and of the heir to the throne, so snugly.
Both Diana’s grandmothers, the late Countess Spencer and Ruth, Lady Fermoy were in the Queen Mother’s household, as were no fewer than four of her great-aunts.
The Queen Mother’s last goddaughter was Diana’s eldest sister Lady Sarah, and the Queen’s last godson was Diana’s brother Charles, now the 9th and current Earl Spencer.
What on earth could possibly go wrong? In fact, all these strong family links turned out to be utterly worthless.
With hindsight, no one could say the Queen didn’t do her best, even banning Prince Charles’s mistress Camilla Parker Bowles from Buckingham Palace and formal royal functions. The ban couldn’t have been more total.
‘There was an unwritten instruction that “that woman” does not cross the threshold,’ says Colin Henderson, the Queen’s head coachman in the Royal Mews.
The Christening of Prince William, pictured centre with Diana, with, from left, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother
The Queen, pictured with much of the Royal Family in 1988, is said to have invited Diana out riding on several occasions as part of her efforts to involve her in royal customs
Of course, it still wasn’t enough to make Charles give Camilla up, but that was hardly his mother’s fault.
Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of Earl Mountbatten and one of the Queen’s bridesmaids in 1947, points out that Diana was ‘given the Queen’s favourite lady-in-waiting, Sue (Lady Susan) Hussey, to help her, to teach her’.
But, says Lady Pamela: ‘She didn’t want to be told anything. “That’s boring, Sue”, she’d say.
‘Instead, she wanted to listen to her music and go disco-ing or to some jive concert. She didn’t try.
‘She had no need to try because she saw the people admired her. She reckoned she was the star.’
In fact, the Queen went even further in trying to educate and involve Diana in the ways of the Royal Family.
Several times she took her out riding at Sandringham. It wasn’t only to introduce Diana to a great royal passion but also intended to give them quality time alone together, which the Queen thought would help.
But Diana, always a reluctant horsewoman, never took to riding. ‘She never overcame feeling vulnerable and frightened on horseback,’ says one of the Spencer family. And so the riding trips stopped.
The Queen also asked her sister Princess Margaret — Diana’s neighbour at Kensington Palace — to take her under her wing.
The Queen, right, also asked her sister Princess Margaret to take Diana, left, under her wing
The Queen, Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Prince Philip pictured at the opening of Parliament in 1981
Margaret was delighted. She saw in Diana the young, glamorous ingenue that she had once been herself, a future darling of the glossy magazines. They also shared a love of the theatre and ballet.
‘It was Diana’s apprenticeship, learning the ropes if you like,’ says Margaret’s long-time chauffeur David Griffin, who drove them about together.
‘Princess Margaret told her what would happen wherever they went, and what to do, whose hand she would have to shake and what to say — it was a bit like Eliza Doolittle except, of course, Diana was already posh.’
This went on for quite some time and it was all very friendly. Diana and the Princess got along well, although Margaret was always ready to deliver a sharp lesson in protocol.
Griffin, now retired, recalls: ‘Diana made the cardinal sin of referring to me and Princess Margaret’s policeman John Harding by our first names.
‘Margaret slapped her on the wrist and said sharply: “No, it’s Griffin and it’s Harding.”’
But, as Lady Pamela Hicks has noted, Diana seemed actively to resist such instruction — almost taking pride in defying the Royal Family’s way of doing things.
Some 12 years later, by which time one would have imagined the Princess had got to know the Queen’s likes and dislikes, she surprisingly arrived at the Queen’s 67th birthday tea in the oak drawing room at Windsor Castle, together with William and Harry, carrying balloons and paper crowns, both of which the Queen heartily dislikes.
She proceeded to decorate the room with the balloons and hand out the paper crowns.
Charles and Diana’s, pictured, marriage came to an end as they separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996
The Queen was prepared to listen to Diana’s marital problems but was ‘more worried about her grandchildren’
The fact that Fergie, with daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, was also there didn’t help because she and Diana were not talking to each other at that point.
According to a former servant: ‘Both women seemed to be taking turns in bending the Queen’s ear about their marital problems, the kind of chats the Queen had come to dread.
‘First, it was the Princess for ten minutes in one corner, then the Duchess for another few minutes in another, both saying “Mama this, Mama that”.
‘As ever, the Queen was prepared to listen to what they had to say, but, all in all, she didn’t have much of a birthday party. Her big worry was for the grandchildren.’
And there were other noticeable tensions. When the family were at Balmoral, Diana would spend what the others considered to be too much time chatting to the chefs in the kitchen — ten of Buckingham Palace’s 20 chefs always go there with the family in the summer.
‘Princess Diana liked to get away from the family and chat with us about the theatre, and so on,’ says former Buckingham Palace chef Darren McGrady, 52.
Darren, who later was Diana’s chef in Kensington Palace and now runs a catering business in Dallas, Texas, recalls one evening when Diana was sitting on the chest freezer when Prince Philip walked in to discuss the following day’s barbecue and saw her.
‘Ah, I’ve caught you,’ said Philip, in his usual breezy style. They both laughed.
But the Queen was not amused. Diana’s informal kitchen visits were the very opposite of her own decidedly Downton Abbey approach — her visits to the kitchens at Buckingham Palace were grand, once-a-year affairs, with all the chefs lined up and the whole place cleaned and sparkling for her arrival.
At the same time, the royals were beginning to feel the downside of being eclipsed by glamorous Diana in public, a situation that had long exasperated the Prince of Wales.
On one occasion, when the Queen and Diana arrived together at Windsor’s Smith’s Lawn for a polo match and media cameras started whirring and clicking, the Queen declared pithily: ‘I suppose I had better get out of the way.’
The Queen, pictured with Princes William, Harry, Charles and Philip at the unveiling of a memorial fountain for Diana in 2004, was criticised for a lack of response after the Princess’ death
Pictured: Prince Charles eventually married Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005
Meanwhile, to her dismay, as the Waleses’ marriage crumbled, the Queen saw that a gap was opening up between Diana and other members of the family.
The early affection between the two Kensington Palace neighbours Diana and Margaret started to wane as Margaret, always very fond of her nephew, took Charles’s side without question.
‘If she saw Diana’s picture in a magazine or paper she would turn it face down,’ Griffin recalls.
‘She would also complain while swimming in the Buckingham Palace pool if Diana was there with William and Harry because she didn’t like getting her hair wet. “The dreadful children are splashing,” she’d say.’
The Queen herself was ‘speechless’ when she saw what she considered to be attention-seeking pictures of Diana in surgical gown and mask observing a heart operation.
‘She thought it was beyond the pale,’ says a friend. As for the Queen Mother, she, too, took Charles’ side unquestionably.
Says a courtier: ‘After the separation, Diana’s name was never mentioned at Clarence House, but then, much to the irritation of Prince Charles, nor was Camilla Parker Bowles’s.’
Lady Anne Glenconner, a close friend and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret, says: ‘I think rather rightly they took Prince Charles’s side, like you would in any family. You would take the side of your own relation, that’s quite natural.’
Despite all their efforts, the lovely girl who’d arrived from a family they knew so well had failed to adapt and integrate.
The stress on Diana was mounting, and yet she clung on to the dreams that she’d had on the day she married Prince Charles.
The Queen’s former private secretary, Sir William Heseltine, has never forgotten Diana’s response when, on retiring from the Royal Household in the summer of 1990, he was saying his goodbyes.
‘Diana said to me: “I am going to stick it out,”’ says Sir William, 85, now in retirement and back in his native Perth, Australia. ‘And I said: “Good on you, although you don’t have much option, really. You have got to stick it out.” ’
But the ruptures were beyond repair. In December, 1992, came John Major’s dramatic announcement to the House of Commons that the Prince and Princess of Wales were to separate.
Soon afterwards, the Princess asked to see the Queen. When she arrived at Buckingham Palace, the Queen was busy, talking to her Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Airlie, so Diana was shown to the pages’ vestibule, to wait.
Tears were already in her eyes by the time the Queen was ready to see her, and immediately she burst into sobs.
The Queen and Prince Philip pictured on their wedding day, left, with Charles and Diana and William and Kate Middleton pictured at their weddings, right
She wept for an hour as they talked. ‘Diana was saying everyone was against her,’ recalls a lady-in-waiting.
‘The Queen didn’t know what to do. She has always hated this kind of emotional confrontation and, frankly, has never had to deal with it before or since.’
One key piece of reassurance the Queen was able to give her, however, as Diana later told friends, was to promise her that, whatever happened, she need not worry about being challenged for custody of William and Harry.
Increasingly concerned about Diana’s well-being, but uncertain how to proceed, the Queen sometimes relied on messages relayed to her by her private secretary Sir Robert (now Lord) Fellowes, who is married to Diana’s sister Lady Jane.
On at least one occasion, having heard that Diana was troubled, the Queen telephoned her daughter-in-law at Kensington Palace to ask if she was ‘all right’.
To the Queen, however, it seemed that whatever she did, nothing worked. Wherever Diana went, she carried public sympathy with her, while behind palace walls there was tension and anxiety.
Not for the first time since the crisis in her son’s marriage, the Queen was very watchful of public opinion.
This was 1992, the year she made her famous and emotional ‘annus horribilis’ speech at a lunch in the Guildhall in the City of London.
In it she described the year as ‘tumultuous’ . . . ‘not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure’.
But as we shall see, this was the Queen desperately understating the true depth of what she was actually feeling.
The occasion was to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession, and those sitting nearby will never forget how Philip gazed at her with a look that combined tenderness with admiration.
She needed both. For, privately, according to a cleric who has known the Royal Family well for many years, the Queen was ‘almost at her wits’ end’.
He says: ‘She felt that things were slipping away from her, that so many horrible things were happening, and when would it end?
‘In a sense, she was feeling that she was losing control. It was the cumulative weight of all the personal disasters.’
By the standards of any family, those disasters, in a single year, form an extraordinary, unforgettable list.
March: The news that Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York were to separate.
April: The divorce of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips.
June: Publication of Andrew Morton’s tell-all book, Diana Her True Story.
August: Publication in a red-top newspaper of those pictures of Fergie having her toes sucked. And that same month — ‘Squidgygate’, a tape of intimate conversations between Diana and a male friend, James Gilbey.
November: ‘Camillagate’, another tape of an intimate conversation, this time between Prince Charles and Camilla.
To cap it all, on November 20, the Queen and Prince Philip’s 45th wedding anniversary, fire ravaged her favourite home, Windsor Castle.
They weren’t even together to offer mutual support. Philip was on a private visit to Argentina.
Surely nothing more could happen, after this, could it? As the cleric explains, it could.
‘What really hit her,’ he says, ‘was the public’s overwhelmingly negative reaction to John Major’s announcement that we, the taxpayer, would pay for the restoration of the Castle.
‘The mood, as reflected in her postbag, appeared so set against her personally, as well as being against the institution in general. It forced her into a kind of depression.’
Another figure close to the Queen says she was also hurt by public criticism that seemed, he says, ‘to be blaming her for what looked like chaos in the Royal Family’.
For Windsor Castle, at least, a solution was found — and one which still did not involve the Queen financing the £36 million repairs herself.
Instead, she agreed to do what she had never contemplated before: open up Buckingham Palace to paying visitors during the summer months while she was away in Balmoral.
But Diana was the problem that would not go away. Four months after she and Charles had separated, the Queen held a state banquet at Buckingham Palace for President Mario Soares of Portugal.
She decided to invite the Princess without telling other members of the family.
The fire at Windsor Castle, part of the Queen’s annus horribilis’ in 1992, damaged more than 100 rooms
Prince Edward pictured reviewing the damage to the castle, the Queen’s favourite home, after the blaze
Pictured: The restoration of the castle in 1993, which cost £36million and was completed in 1997
As the Princess walked in, there was astonishment in the royal ranks. Anne, the Queen Mother and — especially — Charles, could scarcely believe their eyes and were furious.
Why had the Queen so quietly put the estranged Diana on the guest list? The answer is extraordinary.
It was because, despite the public mood being against Prince Charles, and the terrible differences between the couple, the Queen still clung to a distant — some are bound to say naive — hope that there could be a reconciliation.
This was also why she invited the Princess to Sandringham for Christmas in 1993 when the Waleses had been officially parted for a year.
Diana stayed overnight and went with her sons and the other royals to church, but she left before Christmas lunch. Servants recall the atmosphere later round the table lightened because of her departure.
For the Princess, the only way she and Charles might get back together would be for him to give up Camilla.
That, manifestly, he would not do. During this period, according to an aide, the Queen feared Diana might do ‘something stupid’ to attract attention.
The self-harm episodes early in the marriage, when Diana cut her arms and threw herself down the stairs, were still vivid and painful memories.
The Queen hated the confrontational atmosphere that the so-called ‘War of the Waleses’ had created and would have preferred the quarrelling pair to sort it out for themselves.
‘It was just dragging on and on, and the public were watching every move,’ says a courtier.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana pictured with a young Prince William at Kensington Palace in 1983
According to Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press secretary, she was ‘fed up with the “ping-pong” battle they were fighting out so destructively’, with Charles having used broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby to give his side of the story in an authorised biography.
As Arbiter says: ‘It was not just Diana, but the Queen’s own son, airing dirty laundry in public. After the Morton and Dimbleby books, and then that Panorama programme, the Queen had had enough.’
Enter the ‘pragmatic’ Queen that her cousin Margaret Rhodes talks about, a Queen who isn’t, in fact, a great decision-maker but who, she says, ‘never diddles and doesn’t dither. When she makes up her mind, she keeps to it’.
The Queen hadn’t watched ‘live’ the Panorama programme in which Diana cast doubt on Charles’s suitability to be King.
It was broadcast on November 20, the day of the Queen and Philip’s 48th wedding anniversary.
But she had it taped and watched it later. When she discussed the situation with Prince Philip, he was furious, she was despairing. She needed to think.
For the first time in her reign, Palace staff noticed that the Queen’s modest drinking (gin and Dubonnet before lunch, dry Martini in the evening) increased.
Says a member of the Buckingham Palace staff: ‘A year earlier she would have complained if her drink was too strong, but now she didn’t.’
A week before Christmas she finally made up her mind. It was December 18 and she wrote letters to Charles and to Diana urging them to accept that it would be better for all concerned if they divorced. Both knew in reality it was an instruction.
Her letter to the Princess began: ‘Dearest Diana . . . and was signed: ‘With love from Mama.’ It was sensitive and kind, but firm.
Diana wrote back to ‘Mama’ asking for time to think about it. Not Charles. Having received a similar letter from his mother he wrote immediately to Diana asking for a divorce.
Even after the couple finally cut their ties in the summer of 1996, Diana — no longer HRH — continued to make headlines with her romantic interludes and her landmines campaign.
Indeed, the Princess of Wales was successfully turning herself into a popular global figure, especially in America, where she was courted by illustrious figures such as American statesman Dr Henry Kissinger and media queen Barbara Walters.
For the Queen and her advisers, this was a cause of some anxiety. The more Diana’s star continued to rise, the more it emphasised the flaws of the family she had left behind.
‘The Queen has always understood that the monarchy is there only with the consent of the people,’ says John Howard, 76, former Prime Minister of Australia who continues to meet the Queen for lunch and drinks since leaving office in 2007, and knows her well.
‘She has never had any false illusions [and knows] that a change of public opinion could undermine the monarchy’s role.’
Today it seems bizarre that a Queen so widely respected, and even loved, should have gone through an agonising period of years in which she doubted the public’s warmth towards her.
But did she make a miscalculation when Diana was killed in the Paris underpass in August 1997?
Pictured: The scene of the crash in the Pont d’Alma tunnel in Paris in which Diana was killed in 1997
Tributes have been left to the ‘People’s Princess’ throughout the years, including in 2007 at Kensington Palace, pictured, marking the 10th anniversary of the fatal crash
At the time, the Queen was on her annual holiday at Balmoral, and the issue of whether she was right or wrong not to bend to public opinion and rush back to the capital, has never gone away.
Public anger reached a dangerous peak not only over her absence, but over her failure to lower the flag above Buckingham Palace to half-mast.
The given reason for her remaining in Scotland was to be with her grandsons William and Harry away from the emotional outpouring on the streets of the capital.
Lady Anne Glenconner, Princess Margaret’s former lady-in-waiting, was with the Queen’s sister at Kensington Palace ahead of Diana’s funeral, watching ‘people crying all over the place’ and the growing ‘sea of flowers’.
She recalls: ‘I don’t think anybody quite knew the reaction her death was going to have.
‘Princess Margaret thought very much that the Queen had done the right thing staying up at Balmoral with Prince William and Prince Harry and not rushing down to London. The Queen felt, I think quite rightly, that her grandsons needed her.’
To put the troubling episode, and the Queen’s reaction to Diana’s death, in perspective, you have to look at how she reacted when the ‘father figure’ to whom she took so many of her troubles, Earl Mountbatten, was killed with others on his little fishing boat by an IRA bomb in Ireland in 1979.
On that occasion, too, she was at Balmoral. As a royal aide who was there recalls: ‘Her reaction was terribly matter-of-fact. I remember her coming in and saying: “I’m afraid, everybody, Uncle Dickie has been killed.”
‘And we then got on with lunch. That may sound unfeeling, but it wasn’t. It was this business of “you just carry on”, of duty, and of destiny.’
Dickie Arbiter, who played a key role in keeping the world informed after Diana’s death, also insists she was ‘absolutely right’ to remain in Scotland.
‘When William and Harry came down from Balmoral with their father later, they were able to be totally composed as they walked around all the tributes outside Kensington Palace while all around them people were wailing and crying,’ he says.
As for the flag, which was eventually lowered, Sir William Heseltine offers an intriguing footnote.
‘I have talked with the Queen about the flag decision without asking her if it was a mistake. But I think she would admit today that it was a mistake — I’m sure she would.’
So now Diana was gone. Understandably, the Queen has repeatedly asked herself the tortured question: did she really do enough to help the young and inexperienced earl’s daughter when she joined the Royal Family?
It is a question without answer, one hardly lightened by the Queen Mother’s advice to her one particularly trying day while playing patience: ‘Darling, I don’t know why you care any more. It’s another generation — just let them get on with it.’