Unseen letters from Princess Diana reveal distress over ‘desperate and ugly’ divorce

Princess Diana - Tim Graham/Getty Images
Princess Diana - Tim Graham/Getty Images

Princess Diana told friends “she never would have gone through with her divorce” if she knew how “desperate and ugly” the process would be, previously unseen letters have revealed.

Diana sought support and advice from close confidantes Susie and Tarek Kassem throughout her split from the future King Charles III.

In the new collection of 32 letters, put up for auction by the Kassem’s, the Princess describes how negotiations over the terms of the divorce left her “on her knees”.

She also speaks of her fears that her phone at Kensington Palace had been bugged by the Royal family.

The Kassems said they decided to put the correspondence up for sale because “owning the documents is a great responsibility” which they do not wish to pass on to their children or grandchildren.

The letters, which are all being sold individually, are expected to fetch around £90,000. The proceeds will be donated to charities Diana supported.

One of the most revealing letters in the collection, detailing Diana’s feelings during the divorce, was written on April 28, 1996.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana

She wrote to the Kassem’s to apologise for having to cancel a trip with them to see the opera Tosca.

She wrote: “I am having a very difficult time and pressure is serious and coming from all sides.

“It’s too difficult sometimes to keep one’s head up and today I am on my knees and just longing for this divorce to go through as the possible cost is tremendous.”

Her handwriting, normally flowing and neat, deteriorates towards the end of the letter.

She also spoke of how she feared her phone at Kensington Palace was “constantly” bugged and the recordings of her private conversations were passed on to the Royal family.

On May 20, 1996, she wrote to retired magistrate Mrs Kassem: “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.”

Princess Diana
Princess Diana

In another letter, she thanked the Kassems for letting her spend Christmas 1995 with them while William and Harry were with their father at Sandringham.

After Buckingham Palace publicly announced Diana would not be joining them for the festivities it was widely thought she spent it alone at Kensington Palace.

Diana wrote: “I was so thrilled to be invited into a family occasion particularly as I was made to feel like one of the team.”

In all, there are 32 letters and cards Diana wrote in late 1995 and throughout 1996 that are now being sold by the couple.

In many of them she gushingly thanks the couple - who she met for the first time in August 1995 during her regular visits to the Royal Brompton Hospital - for showering her with gifts and emotional support.

On December 19, 1995, the day after the Queen advised Charles and Diana to divorce, she wrote: “I may have been described as a butterfly but I don’t want to fly away from this loving family.” She was referring to the Kassem family.

She added: “I’m immensely touched by how protective you both are of me...  I’m not used to that!”

Princess Diana - Dave Chancellor/Alpha
Princess Diana - Dave Chancellor/Alpha

The Kassems, who live in London, have kept hold of the correspondence from Diana and are now selling it at Lay’s Auctioneers of Penzance, Cornwall.

Mimi Connell-Lay, of Lay’s Auctioneers, said: “Susie met Diana at the Royal Brompton Hospital and it is obvious that they clicked straight away, Diana says as much in one of her letters.

“They had a very strong connection and what is clear is how much Diana valued their friendship and support and advice at a time of great emotional turmoil for her.”

Ms Connell-Lay also said the couple had remarked how “accurate”  Elizabeth Debicki’s portrayal of Diana in the Netflix series The Crown had been.

She added: “Our clients are both aged in their 70s now. They have treasured these letters for over 25 years.

“They reflect the special and loving relationship they had with the most unique women that they had ever known.”

The sale takes place on February 16.