Between 1981 and 1995, multiple claims that members of the British Royal family were joining Trump properties filled New York tabloids and national papers according to a CNN KFile review of archival papers, audio, and books about the then-real estate developer. All of them were unequivocally shot down by Buckingham Palace.
One such instance occurred in the lead up to the Trump Tower’s February 1983 opening, when a persistent rumor kept appearing that Prince Charles and his then-new wife Diana were looking at buying an apartment in the building.
The claim generated significant publicity for Trump Tower, which the then-36-year-old real estate developer Trump hoped would be his signature building. But it wasn’t true, and the source of the misinformation, according to four biographies, was Trump himself.
“Prince Charles and his new bride are planning to buy
a $5 million, 21-room apartment in a building under construction here, the New York Post said today,” the Associated Press wrote
. “Buckingham Palace aides met with Donald Trump, developer of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, during the prince’s visit to New York last June, the Post said. It quoted unidentified sources as saying that a deal was on.”
The Associated Press would later put out
a story in which Buckingham Palace said there was “no truth” to the original report.
In his 1987 book, The Art of Deal, Trump would write the rumor that helped promote Trump Tower more than any of other press story about a celebrity, but he never said he was the source of the claim. He wrote that he received an unsolicited call from a reporter and claimed he refused to confirm or deny the claim.
“Our policy was not to comment about sales, and that’s what I told this reporter,” Trump wrote. “In other words, I refused to confirm or deny the rumor. Apparently, the reporter then decided to call Buckingham Palace. By this time, the royal couple had left for their honeymoon and they were out on the yacht Britannia, so the Buckingham Palace spokesman said just what I had: they couldn’t confirm or deny the rumor. That was all the media needed. In the absence of a denial, the story that the royal couple was considering buying an apartment in Trump Tower became front-page news
all over the world. It certainly didn’t hurt us, but I had to laugh to myself.”
“We’re going to try to get Lady Di”
Trump’s name would be linked to the British Royal Family again in September 1992, when, as Trump attempted to rebuild his struggling financial empire, a New York Post cover story cited
as “rumor” that it was “maybe started by the Trump Organization” that Princess Diana was looking to build a $5 million property in Trump Tower.
The original claim that prompted the article, according to “The Lost Tycoon,” a 1993 biography of Trump, began with Trump leaking word of the alleged deal to the New York Post’s Cindy Adams. The Trump Organization, according to New York Post, said two inquiries were made about the apartment for Princess Diana.
“Understanding celebrity culture, Trump made outlandish claims about the beautiful women
who pursued him and the celebrities who wanted to buy whatever he sold,” said Michael d’Antonio, the author of “The Truth About Trump” and a CNN contributor. “These tidbits were generally throw-away entertainments but could when picked-up by the wire services or more legitimate press, become real reports printed around the world under the banner of a credible source like the Associated Press.”
Trump himself told the New York Post one inquiry came from a “very aristocratic” guy with an “English accent” who works at “a corporation based in London” and handles all the royals’ real estate transactions. He later claimed to have seen the plans himself.
“They were sent to me because I have to approval the structural changes,” he said, launching into details of the apartment interiors.
Buckingham Palace denied the claims to the New York Post and no apartment was ever purchased.
That didn’t stop Trump. A year later, during an appearance on the Howard Stern Show in November 1993, Trump was asked
if it was true that Princess Diana was looking at an apartment in Trump Tower.
“That’s true,” Trump said.
“Does that mean she’s contacted you?” asked Stern.
“I hope she’s looking at — She is really hot. She has gained 20-25 pounds, she looks great,” Trump said, saying he’d love to date the princess. “There could be a love interest. I’d become King of England. King of England. I’d have to leave, I’d have to lose the New York accent quickly. See they wouldn’t like my accent over there.”
But mostly, Trump said,
he wanted Princess Diana to come to a party at Mar-a-Lago.
“We’re going to try to get Lady Di,” Trump said. “We’re trying to get Lady Di actually to come to the party. It’s a part of the deal for buying the apartment in Trump Tower. She can’t have the apartment in Trump Tower unless she comes to the party.”
A year later, in October 1994, another New York Post story, this time on the entire front page
, claimed Princess Diana was set to buy a $3.5 million dollar apartment in Trump Tower. “Princess of New York,” the full-page cover read with a photo of Diana.
The Post cited, a source “close to the deal” who claimed Diana viewed floor plans and spoke with Donald Trump and claimed British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber “was instrumental” in steering Diana toward the apartment.
A spokeswoman for Andrew Lloyd Webber told CNN on Monday the report was fiction. “Andrew Lloyd Webber did not steer Princess Diana towards an apartment in Trump Tower, they were not well acquainted.”
Bill Hoffman, who was a longtime reporter for Page Six in New York Post and who authored the story, said he couldn’t recall if Trump was the source.
“I can’t recall if it was him or someone in his organization,” Hoffman told CNN in a phone interview. “Trump spoke to me a lot off the record, or a source close to Trump. It could have been him. He would call up for scoops, things that would benefited him.”
The story generated rewrites in hundreds of newspapers across the country when it was picked up by wire services. Buckingham Palace shot down the report.
“This report is highly speculative rubbish. It is simply not true,” a spokesman said according to The Guardian.
“The Princess is not set to buy an apartment in the United States or elsewhere and has no plans to live anywhere but in Britain.”
A spokesman added
, “the princess has no intention of buying any property in America or of moving to America.”