Diana didn’t ‘feel welcome at all’ at royal Christmas after receiving ‘frosty’ reception


By the early Nineties, the Princess of Wales was choosing to avoid the infamous Christmas lunch at Sandringham.

In 1993, the Princess “did join the family at Sandringham on Christmas Eve, stayed overnight and went with everyone to church,” said Mr Kay. “But she didn’t stay for lunch. Instead, she went home alone to Kensington Palace and spent the rest of the day there before flying to Washington to stay with friends”.

Writing for the Daily Mail in 2015, he said: “The same thing happened in 1994, but Diana felt she was given a ‘frosty’ reception by the other royals.”

The journalist quoted one of the Princess’ friends who said: “Diana didn’t feel welcome at all. She could see how her being there just made everyone so tense and uneasy. She’d joined them for the sake of the boys, but it wasn’t really working.”

Royal Family at Christmas in 1994

Diana received a ‘frosty’ reception from some of the royals (Image: Getty Images)

Royals At Sandringham

The royals leave the church on Christmas Day (Image: Getty)

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In keeping with tradition, the Royal Family attended a church service at St Mary’s Magdalene Church which sits on the Sandringham estate.

The royals famously walk to the service and are greeted by crowds of fans. Afterwards, they return to Sandringham House for Christmas lunch.

However, that year, “within 30 minutes of the church service ending,” Diana “was at the wheel of her dark green Jaguar speeding back to London”.

Mr Kay wrote: “It wasn’t just that she wanted to put miles between herself and her estranged husband: Diana also had a ‘date’. Or so she thought. She was due to spend the afternoon at a homeless refuge in East London serving Christmas dinners. But despite choosing an out-of-the-way centre on the Isle of Dogs, photographers had been tipped off and the princess felt forced to cancel.

“‘If I had been photographed as some sort of lady bountiful, my husband’s family would have been in uproar, accusing me of a stunt,’ she later confided.”

Diana With Christmas Gifts And Flowers

Diana left Sandringham soon after the church service in 1994 (Image: Getty)

The interview “hung over the festive season like a shroud,” according to Mr Kay, who said: “Diana just couldn’t bring herself to appear, even for the church service on Christmas morning.”

It has since been revealed that Martin Bashir, the journalist who secured the tell-all, used deceitful methods to lure the Princess into sitting down with him.

By all accounts, the interview was the trigger for Queen Elizabeth II to ultimately urge her eldest son and his wife to divorce.

Prince William and Prince Charles outside church in Sandringham

Princes William and Harry spent Christmas at Sandringham while Diana was at Kensington Palace (Image: Getty Images)

Before the family came together to celebrate Christmas, the late monarch had sent letters to the couple. Written “with a heavy heart”, Her Majesty informed “them that, in her opinion, they should divorce”.

While the family went to church as usual that Christmas Day in 1995, Diana was alone at her Kensington Palace apartment. “She told friends it would be ‘intolerable’ to be at Sandringham because of the family’s hostility towards her over Panorama,” wrote Mr Kay. “She had asked William and Harry what they thought about her plan to stay away, and they were crestfallen, but they said they understood. She also phoned the Queen to say she felt everyone would be more comfortable if she didn’t attend.”

However, the Queen — who was known to cherish her Christmases at Sandringham, not only as a family tradition but also as an event of importance for the country — demurred, trying to persuade the Princess to join them.

“The conversation was brief, but cordial, and Diana stuck to her guns,” Mr Kay said. “As she later quipped to a friend: ‘I’d have gone up there (to Sandringham) in a BMW and come out in a coffin’ — a rueful reference to the ‘killing looks’ she felt she got from certain members of the family, especially the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.”

The journalist suggested the late Queen likely was relieved by Diana’s absence, saying: “She, too, had felt the tension.”

In memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in an automobile accident in Paris, France on August 31, 1997.

The Princess of Wales spent her last Christmas alone (Image: Getty)

william harry christmas

William and Harry spent Christmas Day with their grandmother and father (Image: Getty Images)

In August 1997, Diana was killed in a car incident in Paris. That year, the Queen in her Christmas message spoke of her “shock and horror” at her former daughter-in-law’s death, describing Diana’s funeral as “almost unbearably sad”.

Recalling the family gathering at Sandringham in December 1997, one former courtier described a “rather strained” atmosphere, with “the Queen doing her best to generate a cheerful atmosphere for the sake of the boys”.

This year will mark the Royal Family’s first Christmas without Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and in a tribute to his mother, King Charles III will reportedly be spending time at Sandringham.


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