Britain's Blair was 'a sucker' for princess Diana: book
Britain's ex-prime minister Tony Blair admitted he was a "sucker" for princess Diana in his memoirs published Wednesday, adding that Queen Elizabeth II had treated him with "hauteur" after her death.
Blair got to know the "extraordinarily captivating" Diana before she was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 and helped the royal family in the aftermath, as detailed in the 2006 film "The Queen".
He described Diana as "the people's princess" and encouraged the royals to shake off their initially stiff response to her death and adopt a tone which acknowledged the depth of public grief.
But the book reveals this was a highly delicate process. Blair wrote he was "nervous" in his discussions with the queen and barely knew her in the days after the death of Diana, ex-wife of her son Prince Charles.
"I worried afterwards she would think I was lecturing her or being presumptuous and at points during the conversation she assumed a certain hauteur," he said.
"But in the end she herself said lessons must be learned and I could see her own wisdom at work."
Recalling a visit to the royals' Scottish retreat, Balmoral, immediately after Diana's funeral, Blair said he only got through it with the help of "a stiff drink" which he said was like "rocket fuel".
"The blessing was the stiff drink you could get before dinner. Had it been a dry event, had the Queen been a teetotaller or a temperance fanatic, I don't believe I could have got through the weekend," Blair wrote.
Elsewhere in the book, Blair writes how he used alcohol as a "prop" to help him relax while in office though insists his drinking was never too excessive.
Separately, Blair described Diana was a "strong-willed" woman who "was always going to get her own way".
"She knew the full range of the power of her presence and knew its ability to enthral and most often used it to do good; but there was also a wildness in her emotions that meant when anger or resentment were woven together with that power, it could spell danger," Blair wrote.
"I really liked her and, of course, was as big a sucker for a beautiful princess as the next man; but I was wary too."
© 2010 AFP