Princess Diana’s intimate letters detailing ‘nightmare divorce’ sell for £161,000


The Princess of Wales’s personal letters were written during the last two years of her life and were at auction in Cornwall on Thursday.

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A remarkable collection of personal letters from Diana, Princess of Wales, went up for auction at the Lay Auctioneers in Penzance this week. The intimate letters, written between the summer of 1995 and the spring of 1997, sold for £161,000. They belonged to Susie and Tarek Kassem, who were very close friends of the late Princess and had treasured the letters for over 25 years. Susie and Tarek, now in their Seventies, said they didn’t want to pass on the responsibility of owning these poignant documents to their children or grandchildren, so decided to sell them and use some of the proceeds of the sale to support some of the charities that were close to Susie and Diana’s hearts.

There are 32 letters and notes in which Diana chronicled her acrimonious and public split from then Prince Charles. She described the negotiations over the divorce settlement, saying it had left her “on [her] knees”.

In one, the Princess describes how “desperate and ugly” things had become and that, had she known what was going to happen, she would never have consented to the divorce. In another, she reveals her longing for a post-divorce calm, writing: “I will top myself if I remain here.”

Susie had become a close confidante of Diana in the final two years of her life. They met at the Royal Brompton Hospital in 1995 and the pair hit it off straight away.

A letter the Princess wrote to her dear friend in December 1996 was the most valuable at auction. The Princess penned the note just eight months before she was killed in a car accident in Paris.

READ MORE: ‘I will top myself!’Diana wrote a desperate note to a friend a few months before her death

Princess Diana letter

The collection of letters from Princess Diana sold for a total of £161,000 (Image: Getty Images/David Lay Auctions)

Diana letter

Diana sent the letters between the summer of 1995 and the spring of 1997 (Image: David Lay Auctions)

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It described her plans to spend Christmas abroad and she confessed her hopes that 1997 would “be an easier year” for her. The two-page letter, written on Kensington Palace headed notepaper, sold for £26,000 (£31,000 with fees), setting a new record for a Princess Diana letter.

The letter which sold for the next highest price was written to the couple on May 20, 1996. Diana spoke about her phones being bugged, saying: “As I don’t have a mobile it is difficult to discuss personal issues as my lines here are constantly recorded and passed on.

“If I’d known a year ago what I’d experience going through this divorce I never would have consented. It’s desperate and ugly.”

This letter sold for almost £28,000 with fees and another, in which she apologised for cancelling a visit to the opera due to the strain of her split, sold for £15,000.

Diana letter from December 1996

The most valuable letter was written in December 1996, just eight months before Diana’s death (Image: David Lay Auctions)

Diana letter from December 1996

Diana revealed her hopes that 1997 would be an ‘easier year’ for her (Image: David Lay Auctions)

In total, the collection sold for a hammer price of £133,800 and, with additional fees, the overall price paid by the winning bidders was £161,000.

Speaking of the Kassems’ decision to donate some of the proceeds to charities the Princess supported, Mimi Connell-Lay, of Lay’s Auctioneers, said: “We are delighted for our clients and for the charities, which will benefit from some of the proceeds.

“The results go to show the worldwide enduring appeal for Princess Diana and for people’s fascination for her. A lot of the letters are emotionally raw and frankly astonishing.”

Diana At Home

Diana wrote the letters during a particular turbulent time in her personal life (Image: Getty)

Ms Connell-Lay continued: “She wrote a lot about what was going on in her life at the time, especially her divorce, and repeatedly referred to not having support from the Royal Family.

“The collection illustrates Diana’s immensely warm and loving disposition in a charming and delightful manner. Some letters do touch on the enormous stress she was experiencing during periods of very public heartbreak.”

Richard Kay, a royal journalist and friend of the late Princess, spoke of the close relationship the Kassems shared with Diana. He explained the couple “didn’t just open their hearts to the Princess but also the doors to their home and their family”.

Writing for the Daily Mail last week, he described Susie and Tarek’s Chelsea home as a “vital refuge” where Diana would spend weekends and sit down for “jolly family lunches”.

Charles And Diana In Canberra

The Princess detailed the difficulties of her divorce from then Prince Charles (Image: Getty)

According to Mr Kay, Susie “was one of the very last people the Princess telephoned from the Ritz Hotel in Paris on the night of her death”.

As Diana wrote in one of her first letters: “I am extremely happy that our paths have crossed as I feel I have known you before.”

And in a particularly emotional note, Diana wrote: “I am lost for words for all the lovely things you bring into my life, when many people would have deserted this ship!!”


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