Lady Diana haunted by her past: How child custody battles can destroy lives

Haunted by the sound of her mother’s footsteps on the gravel drive as she walked away…

Did Diana’s childhood trauma contribute to her early death?

Lady Diana Spencer was reported as saying that she was haunted by the sound of footsteps on gravel, receding into the distance. They were the footsteps of her mother walking away, defeated, having lost a bitter child custody battle to Diana’s father.  The children were to remain with him, and visit their mother on alternate weekends.

How much did that experience haunt her future relationships? Did it in some way contributed to her early death? How much weight should anyone put on our childhood experiences, in relation to those relationship choices we make?

We could say that the experience of the child, and their perception of it, is ‘the truth’. It is immovable and can’t be changed. But I disagree. The situation the child is in may be beyond their control, but the sad fact is that their perception of that situation is invariably – according to psychologists and psychotherapists – completely false. The torment of their parents battles is often perceived by the child as being their fault. That they are somehow to blame.


As a child, you are the centre of your own universe. Of course everything must relate to you?  And protracted angry custody battles can only reinforce a sense of inherent culpability.

But the real truth is that the conflict is the responsibility of the adults alone, not the children. So a mis-perception has been born – and for many children that misperception has negative impacts on the rest of their lives.


In her marriage to Prince Charles, Diana believed her erratic emotional behaviour to be neurotic. She blamed herself for the relationship breakdown on one level – just as a child will invariably blame themselves for their parents breakup. But guilt, no matter how misperceived, is uncomfortable to live with. It’s so much easier to project it onto someone else.

And we love to do that, don’t we? But do we blame the spouse who has lied to us? Made us feel betrayed and abandoned? No! We keep the full force of our blame for “that bitch he ran of with” or “that bastard she shacked up with”.  I see it often. My guess is that it is more convenient to attribute the blame on someone you are disconnected from. You can perceive whatever you want about them without reality getting in the way. They can’t defend themselves as you don’t need to listen. How convenient.

Diana’s blaming of Camilla for her marriage failure may well have been justified, but it didn’t help heal the damaged child that still lurked within her. Much easier to escape into the thrill and excitement of new relationships. Have you ever used a relationship to escape? I have. All that passion. The thrill, a sense of freedom from the person you believe yourself to be – trapped by an intolerable situation – transformed into the person you think you want to be.

No one can say whether Diana would have gone on to lead a happy life if she had survived the accident. But the choices we make, the relationships we choose, are often driven by a desire to run away from a misperception of the past.


Diana was a seeker – she searched for solace in many therapies – even Colonic Irrigation. Now – I know that mind and body are connected and a good clear out can be as effective psychologically as it is physically. But come on! Colonic Irrigation is not going to take away the haunting footsteps of a mother’s shoes on gravel, is it?

As adults we can’t change the details of the past, but we have enormous power to change perception of what these events mean to us.

If Diana had perceived the truth – that her parents bitter relationship was not in any way her fault – would she have believed herself to be so ‘neurotic’ in her marriage, under pressure from playing a public roll that would be a massive challenge to even the most emotionally secure? Would she have needed to escape into the arms of lovers, one of whom ultimately drove her to her death?  We can never know.

The renewed interest in Diana’s past has revived two thoughts in my mind. The first is that as a parent – now that my children are young adults – should I be paying attention to any misperceptions they may still hold about the past? Should I ask them what haunts them still?

The second thought is to wonder how my own parents’ relationship may have affected me and how I should choose to perceive the beliefs I formed as a consequence of that? Perceptions that may well be as unstable and malleable as a distant sound from long ago, that holds a meaning laden with false beliefs.







More Articles

A compilation of opinionated Articles,Poems and Videos.

He’s drunk again

He's drunk again Bit wobbly. Eyes not quite focused On this plane of existence.  He's somewhere else Legs dancing incoherently Tiny steps - Balance? Or another rhythm from That other place? Warm embrace of alcohol Sinking Safe Delerious delusion. "I'm a nice guy. I...


07525 059 634

A tear falls

A tear falls

One tear falls.


Trembling, it rolled across his cheek then

down the bare downy shoulders of the babe

Clutched close in his arms.

As he passed the child back to the mother

The tear slid onto her hands and she flung it away

It flew

And hit upon the shaggy coat of a passing dog

Who shook his pelt of gold and the tear

Sailed into the air, caught by the wing of a passing sparrow,

Who swooped and dived and ruffled his grey feathers and

The tear fell into the gutter travelling through the city sewers

And finally out to sea.


For ten years it bobbed within the salty ocean until it was sucked up

By the clouds

And carried to a small town where it fell down upon the golden head

of a boy.

It rolled onto his face and the boy wiped it away and stared

For a moment

At the trembling drop between his fingers,

And incomprehensibly


Why his father went away.

One tear




You Don’t Have To Be Friends To Use Divorce Mediation

Find out more about better ways to divorce at


Staring David Tarpey, Lucy Sengelow and the voice of Ashley Ramsden.

Lucy Sengelow:

Lucy trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and has over 20 years experience working as an actress. She has worked extensively in theatre, television and in the corporate sector.  Lucy is currently appearing in What Shall We Do With The Cello, an absurdist comedy written by Romanian playwright Matei Visniec.  In the last year the show has toured to the International Festival of Contemporary Drama in Brasov, Transylvania (where the show won Best Director), the Byline Festival, Bunker Theatre, London and later this year, Moldova.  Lucy is also a core cast member of the ongoing sketch comedy show, The Frow Show. Lucy is a highly skilled actor facilitator working across the private and public sector in both assessment and development centres.  Lucy uses roleplay, forum theatre, coaching and feedback in the workplace.  Her most recent programmes have included The Five Conversation Styles, Equality & Diversity, Presentation & Communication Skills and Assessment for Recruitment and Identifying Development Needs.  Companies have included a 3-year programme with London Underground for TfL,  Mercedes Benz & Smart Cars, Henley Business School, Genesis Housing Association, Royal College of GPs and many international blue chip companies such as Campari, William Grant, AstraZenica, Siemens and Jaguar Landrover. 

To find out more about Lucy or to contact her please call 07961 326439 or email Spotlight: 



David Tarpey

As a native Londoner, I originally trained as an actor in Hackney but family life and a career in print and broadcast journalism took over. But in 2015, I returned to my first passion. Since then, I have had a wide range of jobs spanning stage, TV, short films, a feature film, music videos, a games app ad, training videos and a stills photo shoot for a national advertising campaign for Kwik Fit. I’ve been cast as a boxing ref, car mechanic, security guard, farm manager, a commandant, a prison officer, sex scandal MP, sinister government scientist, drug dealer, homeless man, Mr Big gangster, dads, husbands, businessmen and an adult son dealing with grief.
My TV work has included parts on BBC 1, Channel 5, the Crime & Investigation Channel and the History Channel.
I also recently shot a Star Wars fan film in Iceland in which I play the lead antagonist. It will be released in April 2019. I also have a small part in a black comedy due to be released in March 2019.

I’m available for a range of jobs and am very flexible.

Please contact me at: 07950 736 571 or

Find out more here


Ashley Ramsden

Ashley Ramsden established the School of Storytelling in 1994 under the umbrella of Emerson College. He co-founded the International School of Storytelling in 2011.

Ashley’s unique methods of teaching voice and the skills of the storyteller have received international acclaim. He runs workshops, tours with his one-man-shows including A Christmas Carol, The Amazing Adventures of the Hodja Nasrud’din, and Tistou of the Green Thumbs amongst others and is a speaker of sacred poetry. He has been touring recently with wife Flora, focussing on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and is back from a period of refreshment with a host of workshops and new ideas.


Music by:

Longzigun: Nocturnal

graham cupples campfire philosophy part 5


How To Separate Amicably – Sussex hosts UK’s first ever ‘Best Way To Split Retreat’

How To Separate Amicably – Sussex hosts UK’s first ever ‘Best Way To Split Retreat’

Media Release: Best Way To Split Retreat

Media contacts:

Suzy Miller: Email:    Tel: 07525 059 634

Islay O’Hara: Email Tel: 07801 240127

32% of children whose parents are divorced exhibit a high level of mental health problems of some kind1.  Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. “Peaceful divorce can be available to everyone”, says divorce strategist Suzy Miller, “and children can be better off with parents who are no longer together, but who still get on reasonably well than having to cope with the fallout from living with two people whose relationship has completely broken down. Think Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin and their intentionally friendly ‘conscious uncoupling’, rather than Boris and Lilly Becker!”

Organised by Suzy, the UK’s first ever The Best Way to Split RetreatTM, is a pioneering event which takes place at the Ashdown Park Hotel from 14-16th September.  It is designed to provide information and practical tools to help couples who are on the brink of divorce or separation to split up in the most amicable way.

“Divorcing peacefully is about boundaries, clarity and focusing on the children’s needs rather than your own hurt” says Suzy. “It’s tough to behave like a ‘grown up’ in divorce when your emotions are running high and you’re afraid of the financial implications or are worried about whether or not you’ll ever date again” says Suzy. “It can be a terrifying time.”  She believes that what’s missing in the divorce process is “a place to relax and consider all your options, where you can create a strategy with support from experts, even if your spouse, or ex-partner, is not being helpful in keeping things amicable. That is what this weekend is all about.”

The retreat takes place on the outskirts of Forest Row, where there is a higher percentage (10.3%) of divorced and separated residents than the national average (8.7%)2  It is a collaboration of professionals, including experts in law, finance, parenting and wellbeing, along with support organisations such as Families Need Fathers, all of whom are committed to helping couples to find the most peaceful way to part, whilst avoiding the animosity usually associated with separation.  Workshops will cover mediation and other forms of dispute resolution, co-parenting, financial strategies, relationship skills, dealing with domestic abuse, holistic relaxation, nutrition and even crystal healing.

Sponsoring a free delegate space each are Lewis based Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors Knill James and Tisshaws Family Law Solicitors based in Haywards Heath. Verity Eunson-Hickey, Senior Associate Solicitor at Tisshaws said People are scared that seeing a lawyer about their divorce means things are automatically going to turn nasty.  A good family lawyer won’t force you down the path to court, but they will make sure you are fully informed about your rights and options and help guide and support you at a time when you need that the most.  Many people are not even aware of some of the dispute resolution choices open to them.  Having the information you need can save a lot of time, money and stress!”

The retreat is aimed not at couples, rather at individuals who will benefit from time away to gather information, learn practical tools and plan how to change their family structure.  As Suzy says, “It only takes one person to stay sane in a divorce – to hold a safe harbour of common sense for the other parent to access at any point when they get bored of wasting money and being angry all the time.  The more the ‘sane’ parent knows about how to make that happen right from the start – or before the assets are all spent on legal fees – the more children will be spared the damage that a nasty divorce bequeaths them.”

For more information about the event, visit

  • ENDS 


  1. Millennium Cohort Study (MCS)






Event Details:

Friday 14th 6pm to 6pm Sunday afternoon 16th September 2018 at the Ashdown Park Hotel, East Grinstead Sussex. £348 per person exc accommodation.

For more information, visit

Event Organiser Suzy Miller: Divorce Strategist and campaigner for peaceful divorce

  • Suzy campaigns for better and more peaceful ways to divorce and has collaborated with the Ministry of Justice in helping to promote dispute resolution along with helping hundreds of couples to have a more peaceful divorce
  • Affiliated to the Family Mediation Association, Suzy was the creator of the UK’s first Divorce Fair held in Brighton in 2009, and now the UK’s first “Best Way to Split Retreat™”
  • She is the creator of the UK’s unique ‘Alternative Divorce Guide’ and is a regular public speaker and has been featured on Radio 4 Women’s Hour, the Daily Mail and C5’s The Vanessa Show.
  • Suzy believes that no-one needs to be ‘a broken family’: through the right information, inspiration and divorce strategies, we can all help our friends, family and colleagues to have an ‘extended’ family instead.
  • Suzy split from her partner of 10 years when their three children were very young and she found that building a strong co-parenting relationship is tough when your heart is broken – but still possible!

For more information about Suzy Miller please visit

Email: Phone: 07525 059 634

Collaborators include:

Families Need Fathers: FNF is the leading UK charity supporting dads, mums and grandparents to have personal contact and meaningful relationships with their children following parental separation. They offer information, advice and support services helping parents to achieve a positive outcome for their children.

With their online Forum and network of over 50 UK branches, FNF also offers pro-bono guidance of solicitors and others familiar with the operation of the family courts.

Tisshaws Family Law: Tisshaws are the largest family law firm in Mid Susssex, specializing in divorce, separation, children and financial matters. They believe in finding the best possible solution for both parties and their families and encourage amicable settlements and promote alternatives to court wherever possible.

Contact: Verity Eunson-Hickey, Senior Associate Solicitor Tel: 01444 472700

Knill James Accountants: Knill James are a well-established and highly respected firm of accountants, providing services to businesses in the London, Brighton, Lewes, Gatwick Diamond area and throughout the South East. They support clients who are dealing with divorce in helping reduce the stress of gathering the necessary financial and tax information.

Contact: David Martin, Partner Tel: 01273 484933

For the full list of workshops and facilitators please click here:

Divorce Radio Show: Best Way To Split Retreat, Domestic Abuse, Crystal Healing & Divorce Admin

Divorce Radio Show: Best Way To Split Retreat, Domestic Abuse, Crystal Healing & Divorce Admin

Divorce TV is being born as we speak. Here are some experts who will be at The Best Way To Split Retreat talking about divorce-related issues that may make sense to quite a few of you who are dealing with family separation:


See the Divorce TV version here:

Mediation Sketch: You Don’t Have To Be Friends For Mediation To Work

Mediation Sketch: You Don’t Have To Be Friends For Mediation To Work

You Don’t Have To Be Friends For Mediation To Work

(Less than 10 minutes)

Scene 1:

Janet: I tried mediation already.  It didn’t work.

Mediator: And why was that, Janet?  What was it about mediation that didn’t work for you?

Janet: The mediator asked him about his financial disclosure and HE admitted to having a load of cash in bank accounts I’d never heard of. He’d ferreted it all away as soon as he knew I was leaving him.  I was disgusted.  He’d lied and deceived me for months.

Mediator: And what happened next?

Janet: Well I walked out of the mediation.  How dare he have deceived me all that time.


Mediator: Janet I’m just trying to understand what you’re saying.  So your husband admitted to hiding assets and came clean on everything. And you walked out.  And for you that mean’t that mediation doesn’t work? (more…)