LONDON (AP) – Princess Diana was self-conscious about her intelligence, or lack of it, according to videotapes broadcast in the United States.

“I was always told by my family that I was the thick one, that I was stupid and that my brother was the clever one and I was always so conscious of that. I used to go to headmistress crying, saying I wish I wasn’t so stupid,” she is heard saying on a tape made by her voice coach, Peter Settelen, in the early 1990s. Settelen made about 20 tapes of the princess.

Like much else in the tapes broadcast Monday by the NBC network, it wasn’t a bombshell revelation. Diana had said as much in 1987 during a hospital visit, when she told a patient: “I’m as thick as a plank.”

The tapes provide previously unknown quotes to go with the frequently reported tales of Diana’s unhappiness, her bulimia and her suspicions that her husband, Prince Charles, had been unfaithful to her.

Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary, told NBC the princess was under a lot of stress at the time.

“And like anybody under stress, she wanted to unload. And there weren’t that many people she could unload on,” said Jephson, whose own book, “Shadows of a Princess,” was published four years ago.

Another Diana author, former bodyguard Ken Wharfe, accused Settelen of exploiting a vulnerable woman. “Any comfort that could be taken she would take it,” Wharfe said in an interview Tuesday on GMTV.

“She found Peter Settelen very useful, he was a member of that sycophantic circle that would say to Diana all the things she wanted to hear,” Wharfe said.

NBC said “the British are buzzing” Tuesday about the tapes, but the buzz wasn’t on any front pages.

The Sun, the nation’s largest-selling daily, put its report on page 15. The Daily Mail, once Diana’s favored outlet for her side of her failing marriage to Prince Charles, played it on page five.

Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

‘Alexander’ a bisexual?

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – A group of Greek lawyers angry at the portrayal of Alexander the Great as a bisexual in the Hollywood movie “Alexander” suspended legal action after conceding they hadn’t watched the film.

Court officials said the group of 25 lawyers withdrew on Tuesday a request to delay the movie’s opening in Greece.

“Alexander,” directed by Oliver Stone, stars Colin Farrell as the warrior king. The film, which opened to mixed reviews in the United States, is set for release Friday.

The lawyers argue there is no historical evidence supporting claims that Alexander had male lovers. They had demanded the movie’s release be delayed until its producers agreed to include a disclaimer explaining that the film is a fictional portrayal of Alexander’s life.

But they agreed to suspend the action until they can view a preview screening of the film later this week.

PARIS (AP) – Natalie Dessay hopes to completely regain her voice following an operation on one of her vocal cords.

The renowned French soprano underwent microsurgery on Nov. 17 to remove a polyp from her right vocal cord.

In July 2002, she had microsurgery to remove a nodule from her left vocal cord.

“It’s been two and a half years now that I haven’t completely regained my voice,” Dessay said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I kept working, but I said to myself, “I can’t keep going like this’ because I had completely lost the pleasure of singing.”

This year, Dessay canceled her October appearances as Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” at the Bastille Opera House in Paris. Then she canceled two planned December concerts at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, also in Paris.

Dessay knew something was wrong, she said, because she hadn’t regained complete comfort when singing.

“After the first surgery, that comfort should have come back after four or five months on its own and, in fact, it never really came back,” Dessay said.

She said the operation went very well but she’s unsure how long her recovery will take. She intends to start retraining her voice in January and hopes to be back on stage by the end of spring.

Faced with these medical setbacks, Dessay said she has occasionally considered giving it all up but decided to persevere.

“It’s like when an athlete is injured,” she said. “He’s not going to end his career because he’s injured. He’s going to wait until he’s back in good shape again and then decide if he still wants to do it. And, apparently, I still want to sing.”

LONDON (AP) – Elton John has blamed former pop star Victoria Beckham for problems in her high-profile marriage to soccer star David Beckham.

But John, a close friend of the celebrity couple and a godfather to their two sons, told a British magazine the pair’s relationship was back on track.

The Beckhams’ marriage came under the spotlight earlier this year when David Beckham’s former personal assistant Rebecca Loos went public with claims she was having an affair with the England captain.

John told Heat magazine that Victoria should have moved with the Real Madrid star when he relocated to the Spanish capital.

Instead, she decided to stay in Britain to pursue her ailing singing career, a move that John blames for Beckham’s alleged relationship with Loos.

“I think he missed her and the boys terribly,” John told the magazine. “If you live six months in a hotel room in Madrid – or anywhere – it’s going to drive you crazy. I think they should have gone together as a family.”

John also said the couple should have released a statement confirming their marital problems. “But they just denied it and kept denying it, and there were obviously problems … which now they seem to have sorted out,” the singer said.

The couple had been through a “pretty awful” time but were back on track, John said. “Basically, they are two people that love each other very much.”

Victoria Beckham, a former Spice Girl, recently announced that she would give up her music career to focus on being a fashion designer. Beckham, who is expecting the couple’s third child in March, is developing her own label.

GENEVA (AP) – Tina Turner, who celebrated her 65th birthday last week, is enjoying her quiet life in Switzerland, but reportedly has no plans to retire from performing.

The rock diva completed her final world tour four years ago, but still gives live performances in Switzerland. Her latest was Saturday night, the day after her birthday, the Swiss weekly Schweizer Illustrierte said Tuesday.

Turner will star as the Indian goddess Shakti in Ismail Merchant’s new film, “The Goddess,” and she recently released a new CD. Her screen credits also include 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” with Mel Gibson.

“Switzerland is wonderful,” Turner told the magazine. “I love the people, the lakes, the mountains – simply everything.”

She has lived in the exclusive Zurich district of Kuesnacht since 1994. She also has a ski chalet in Klosters, the luxurious Swiss alpine resort.

LONDON (AP) – A new recording of the 1984 charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” hit British record stores, many of which opened early in anticipation of large crowds.

The single features artists including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, former Beatle Paul McCartney, U2’s Bono and Dido. The recording will raise money for victims of the ongoing strife in the Sudan, where fighting has killed thousands of people and created 1.8 million refugees.

HMV Records, one of Britain’s largest music retailers, opened more than 200 stores an hour early, at 8 a.m., Monday and reported strong early morning sales.

“There wasn’t a huge rush of people, but a steady stream of customers this morning,” said Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV. “I don’t know that it’s going to be the smash success that the original was, but I think it will do quite well and raise quite a bit of money for Africa.”

Castaldo said he expects the single to sell at least 1 million copies and to top the singles charts in Britain for several weeks.

HMV and other retailers were selling the single for $7.55.

The song retails for $2.82 at online distributors.

Apple’s iTunes, the popular online music store, wasn’t carrying the single because it declined to sell the song for more than the service’s $1.50 base price. An Apple spokesman in London declined Monday to comment on its dispute with the Band Aid trust over the cost of the recording.

Bob Geldof wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 1984 with Midge Ure for a superstar group they called Band Aid, featuring artists including Boy George, Duran Duran and Phil Collins. Bono is the only artist to appear on both versions of the song.

The original record raised millions for those starving in Ethiopia.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – Don Knotts is getting his own festival.

City officials in his West Virginia hometown plan to honor the actor with a Don Knotts Festival during Arts Celebration Week in August 2005.

The Morgantown festival will include showings of some of Knotts’ film and television work. The 80-year-old actor is mainly identified with the role that won him five Emmy Awards, that of bumbling deputy Barney Fife on the ‘60s family comedy “The Andy Griffith Show,” which also starred Ron Howard and Jim Nabors.

“The goal is to showcase West Virginia and Morgantown artists as much as possible,” Mayor Ron Justice said. “I would call it a celebration of Don’s work and what he has accomplished.”

“Really, there hasn’t been a whole lot done around some of his work compared to other people that co-starred on “The Andy Griffith Show,”‘ Justice said.

Justice said the city plans to invite Knotts.

The festival is expected to draw fans from across the nation, said Stacey Brodak of the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We have had people call us and travel from all over the United States just to see his birthplace,” Brodak said. “He has such a huge following and that will be a big tourist attraction.”

On the Net:

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) – Patty Duke was expecting a nice party when she appeared as honorary chairwoman of the Thanksgiving weekend fund-raiser for the Kootenai Medical Center, where she had successful heart bypass surgery just three weeks earlier.

“But this is really beautifully done,” the Oscar-winning actress said during Saturday’s Festival of Trees gala.

And it was personal.

“I know what it’s like to have a second chance,” she said. “I had wonderful doctors.”

The gala raised $167,000 to enhance health care services in the county.

Duke, 57, lives in the area with her husband, Mike Pearce.

She won a best supporting actress Oscar in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker.” Duke may be best known for her portrayal of teenage cousins in the 1960s comedy “The Patty Duke Show.”

On the Net:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Maria Shriver believes there should be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow her husband, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to run for president – but she has her doubts that it will be enacted.

“Forget about it,” California’s first lady says in an article in the January issue of Vanity Fair magazine, on newsstands Wednesday. “It is not going to happen. The process takes years, and this is as far as it goes.”

She said there “absolutely” should be an amendment that would allow Republican Schwarzenegger and other naturalized citizens to run for president. “We are a nation of immigrants,” she says.

It would take two-thirds votes in Congress and approval by at least 38 states to adopt such an amendment.

Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria and became a U.S. citizen in 1983, has said he’s interested in running for president. A Silicon Valley-based group run by a political supporter of the governor has started a Web site and begun running cable television ads promoting an amendment that would allow him to do so.

A Texas radio talk-show host has started raising funds for television ads opposing the change.

On the Net:

AP-ES-11-30-04 1413EST

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