Besotted Diana’s affair with Charles’s friend Oliver Hoare
THE nuisance phone calls were certainly frequent: over the course of a year, the Chelsea home of well-connected art dealer Oliver Hoare received more than 300 of them. Whenever he picked up the handset there was only silence, although when his wife Diane answered she would on occasion receive a torrent of abuse.
It worried the then 49-year-old Hoare enough to call the police – who in turn could never have imagined where their inquiries would lead them: the calls were traced to the private lines of none other than Diana, Princess of Wales, as well as a mobile phone she used, and the home of her sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale.
The news, first reported in August 1994, sent shockwaves around the country.
This was the behaviour of an unhinged and besotted schoolgirl, not a princess.
Nonetheless, as the passage of the subsequent years would make clear, Diana had indeed been infatuated with the handsome Hoare – who had returned her affections in an affair that had lasted nearly four years and which, according to one of the Princess’s confidantes, diplomat’s widow Lady Bowker, had seen her frequently daydream of them living a new life together in Italy.
That never happened.
Diana would die aged 36 in a car crash just three years after their affair ended, while it emerged this week that Hoare passed away from cancer at his home in France at the age of 73, a poignant end to a feverish chapter of royal history.
The son of Reginald Hoare, a civil servant, and his wife Irina, Hoare’s credentials were certainly impeccable.
He attended Eton before moving to Paris to study art history at the Sorbonne.
Fascinated with Iran, he found a mentor in Iranian Princess Hamoush Azodi-Bowler, who invited him to stay at the Tehran mansion where she played host to a circle of artistic young aristocrats.
On his return to London the debonair former public schoolboy continued to thrive, joining Christie’s before setting up his own gallery, Ahuan, in Belgravia, one of London’s most exclusive postcodes.
Specialising in Islamic art, his clients were as exalted as his art was expensive, numbering among them Queen Noor of Jordan and Rudolf Nureyev.
Hoare’s personal life was equally blue-chip.
By 1974 he had begun a relationship with French oil heiress Diane de Waldner, whose mother Louise was a chateau-owning baroness and close friend of the Queen Mother.
The couple married in 1976 and settled in a Chelsea townhouse, going on to have three children: Tristan, now 41, Damien, 39, and 36-year old Olivia.
A compulsive charmer, Hoare moved easily in gilded circles.
A fellow gallery owner, Dale Egee, called him “an old-fashioned gentleman” with a “vulnerable manner that is very appealing to women”.
This would be confirmed by ex-beauty queen Ayesha Nadir, ex-wife of clothing tycoon Asil Nadir, with whom he had a six-month fling in the early 1990s.
It was in 1984 that he first came within Diana’s orbit.
After meeting Prince Charles at a party in Windsor Castle, he and his wife soon became part of the inner royal circle, frequent guests at the Wales’s Gloucestershire country home Highgrove.
Like many of Charles’s friends, Hoare was aware of his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, yet by the late 1980s he had become close to Diana, who shared his love of ballet. Initially she turned to him for advice and comfort, hoping too that she could tease information out of him about Camilla and Charles.
It was not long, though, before the relationship became romantic.
In his explosive memoir Diana: Closely Guarded Secret, the Princess’s former close protection officer Ken Wharfe confirmed the affair, disclosing that by the spring of 1992 – with her marriage in its death throes – his employer had become “totally obsessed” with Hoare.
Wharfe recalled finding a “dishevelled and semi-clad” Hoare puffing on a cigar behind a pot plant in a Kensington Palace hallway in the early hours.
“Diana, who hated the smell of smoke, had obviously told him to smoke in the hallway, forgetting that this would set all the alarms off,” he recalls.
Meanwhile in his own memoir Diana: In Pursuit Of Love, author Andrew Morton suggested that Hoare and Diana did little to cover up their burgeoning romance.
According to her personal trainer Carolan Brown the pair would frequently attend Chelsea Harbour gym together and Hoare “would come over and try and kiss or touch her. He was openly flirtatious and she would push him away with her hand. She made it clear that she was having an affair with him.”
It was not a one-way street: in October 1993, with the Prince and Princess of Wales now formally separated, Hoare had left his wife and moved into a friend’s apartment.
It should have been everything she wanted but instead, according to Morton, Diana panicked; she was desperately in love with him but she was also, according to an unnamed friend, “terrified”.
Her emotional life “had the quality of a self-fulfilling prophecy” – Diana desperately sought love, certain that she could not be loved, but if love was offered she would back away and even provoke rejection.
By January 1994, having been threatened with divorce by his wife, Hoare was back living in the marital home.
In August of that year rumours of those anonymous phone calls filtered through to the media.
The police announced later that the inquiry had been ended “at Mr Hoare’s request”, while Kensington Palace claimed the calls had been made by the Princess’s staff using Hoare as a middleman to try to heal the rift between her and Prince Charles.
But in her infamous Panorama interview the following year with Martin Bashir, Diana admitted she had been the source of some, though not all of them.
She had, she said, called Hoare “over a period but certainly not in an obsessive manner, no”, she insisted.
If this wasn’t shocking enough, a year after Diana’s death royal biographer Lady Colin Campbell claimed that the Princess had made the calls while overcome with grief after having had an abortion: “She wasn’t responsible for her actions.”
Hoare never commented publicly on their affair, the full details of which were formally brought to light only with the publication of Wharfe’s 2002 book.
Either way, there was one thing on which Diana’s biographers were agreed: she had been deeply in love with Hoare and the end of their relationship left her with a broken heart.
“It was very, very painful for her,” her astrologer Debbie Frank recalled to Andrew Morton.
It was not to prove the end of her flirtations: in the years after their break-up and before her death in 1997 Diana would be linked to a series of men from John Kennedy Jr and singer Bryan Adams to heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
By contrast Hoare lived out the rest of his life quietly.
He and his wife returned to being what a friend described as “a well-heeled Kensington couple” although in 2015 Hoare lost his driving licence for 17 months when he was pulled over by police after a boozy lunch.
It was to be Hoare’s final headline until those reporting his death this week, leaving behind a wife to whom he ultimately remained married for 32 years – and taking his own feelings about his royal lover with him to the grave.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK