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Posts Tagged ‘Princess Diana’s death’

Princess Diana, 1997

Following her 1996 divorce from Prince Charles, Princess Diana downsized her life. She reduced her Kensington Palace staff to cleaner, cook, and dresser with Paul Burrell filling in the gaps as her man Friday. The police, not the Royal Protection Squad, accompanied her to public events. She pared down the list of charities she supported from 100 to 6.  

She culled her wardrobe, throwing out dresses that reminded her of her previous life, famously donating 79 of them to charity at a June 1997 Christie’s auction, including the black dress she wore while dancing with actor John Travolta at the White House in 1985.

American Actor John Travolta and Princess Diana of Great Britain dance at the White House, 1985.

She changed her friends. She dumped old confidante Elton John after he acted as a go-between with her and fashion designer Gianni Versace for Versace’s 1997 coffee-table book Rock and Royalty.  Diana blamed John for carelessly placing a photograph of the Princess and her sons in the book amid a portfolio of semi-nude male models, which Diana rightly feared would upset the Queen

In July 1997, Diana did make up with Elton John, consoling him at Versace’s memorial service. 

Princess Diana comforts rock star Elton John at the 1997 memorial for slain fashion designer Gianni Versace

By the end of August, Diana, too, would be dead, and John would play the piano at her funeral. In 2008, John reflected on Princess Diana’s last year:

I think in the end…Diana trusted the wrong people. She didn’t trust the people she should have trusted, her true friends. I always thought the people that really felt for her and really were true to her she just was a bit airy fairy towards in the end.”

Fergie was another of Diana’s old friends that got the heave-ho in the last year of her life. This rupture was also a result of the publication of a book.

Back in 1985, Sarah, the Duchess of York, and Princess Diana were close friends.

In her memoir, My Story: by Sarah, the Duchess of York, the divorced duchess shared that she and Diana wore the same size of shoes and often shared them.  Fergie claimed that she caught a verruca—a plantar wart – after wearing a pair of Diana’s shoes.

Diana was aghast that her old friend and former sister-in-law would portray her in such unflattering detail just to make a buck. Despite Fergie’s repeated apologies, Diana would not forgive her. She never spoke to Fergie again.

Brown, Tina. “Diana’s Final Heartbreak,” Vanity Fair, July 2007.

For more on Princess Diana, click here.

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Princess Diana and lover Dodi Al Fayed in the summer of 1997.

“The more I hear and read and think about Diana’s and Dodi’s deaths in the Pont d’Alma tunnel, in Paris, on August 31, 1997, in what is possibly the world’s most famous car crash, the more I doubt the truth of their great romance. If it was anything at all, it was a flirt, a fling…. Like the conspiracy theory surrounding their deaths, their romance, too, was orchestrated by Mohamed Al Fayed [Dodi’s father]. The shrine to the eternal love of Dodi and Diana, in Harrods, the most famous of English department stores, owned by Al Fayed [until May 2010], is a popular tourist attraction. People line up to look at it. They speak in whispers, as if they were in church…. 

“The shrine, which is tacky but curiously touching, consists of a fountain, two large portraits—one of Dodi and one of Diana—and floor-lamp-size candles, the scent of lilies in the air. Under a glass pyramid is a crystal glass from which one of them had drunk champagne in the Imperial Suite of the Ritz Hotel just before they died, and the so-called engagement ring, which Dodi had bought that afternoon at the jewelry shop down the street from the Ritz. Diana never wore it.

They had been romantically involved with each other for less than a month. 

Harrods shrine for Princess Diana & Dodi Fayed. Harrods' former owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, is Dodi's father. At the six-month inquest of Dodi and Diana's death (2007-2008), Al Fayed testified of his belief in a vast conspiracy by the British Royal Family under the direction of Prince Philip to murder Princess Diana. The inquest into Princess Diana's death that was carried out at the Royal Courts of Justice in London concluded she and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed by gross negligence of their driver, who was speeding and was more than three times over French drunk driving limit. (Lisa's History Room)

Pakistani-born cardiologist, Hasnat Khan (b. 1960), who was purported to be the love of Princess Diana's life. They met in London in 1995 and carried on an affair until he ended the relationship. No photographs exist of the couple. (Lisa's History Room)

“All was not as it seemed in the love department of the famous Dodi-Diana romance. Several friends of Diana’s told me she was downhearted after the breakup of her romance with Hasnat Khan, the Pakistani surgeon, with whom she was still in love. They say Khan ended his serious relationship with Diana because, as a respected doctor, he could not stand the publicity that overwhelmed her life…. 

“What is rarely mentioned, although it is well known, is the existence of a beautiful American model named Kelly Fisher, who wore on her left hand an enormous and very expensive engagement ring. She says her fiancé had bought her a mansion in Malibu, where they would live after their marriage. She had tentatively set the date of August 9, 1997, for the wedding, nearly a month off. Her fiancé was Dodi Al Fayed. 

American underwear model Kelly Fisher, who claimed to be Dodi Al Fayed's fiancee. Dec. 2007 (Lisa's History Room)

“The two – Dodi and Kelly Fisher – were in Paris together on July 14, when Dodi was summoned by his father to join Princess Diana 

on the Jonikal,the yacht Mohamed Al Fayed had reportedly purchased for $20 million the day after the Princess accepted his invitation for a sailing trip with her sons, William and Harry.

Princess Diana on the Jonikal, the yacht Mohamed Al Fayed bought exclusively to entertain her. July 1997 (Lisa's History Room)

Kelly was left behind in Paris, though a few days later she was flown to St. Tropez and transported to another Al Fayed yacht. There she languished during the day while waiting for evening visits from Dodi. 

“Diana returned to the Jonikal in August. The fact that she came back for a second visit so soon really shows her loneliness more than it does a passion for Dodi. Her two sons were at Balmoral, one of the Queen’s castles, with their father, Prince Charles, and their grandparents the Queen and Prince Philip, as was their August habit. Diana wasn’t being invited around to the great English estates for long weekends. She had become too famous. It was too difficult to have her stay. Strangers gathered at the gates to get a glimpse of her. Helicopters hovered. She really had no place to go.

Charles, the Prince of Wales (center) is flanked by his two sons, Princes William or "Wills" (l) and Henry or "Harry." This photo, taken by the boys' nanny at the royal estate Balmoral in Scotland, was their 1996 Christmas card. In that year, Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced.

“The Jonikal invitations were perfect. A splendid yacht. A helicopter. A private plane. Guards to keep the paparazzi at bay. She probably knew that she was being used by a social climber for his and his son’s advancement in London society, but in high society it was a fair deal. Each benefited.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed on the Jonikal July/August 1997 (Lisa's History Room)

This photo of Diana, Princess of Wales, kissing Dodi Al Fayed appeared in the Sunday Mirror on August 10, 1997, as she vacationed on Dodi's father's yacht, the Jonikal. Three weeks later, Dodi and Di would be killed in a car accident in Paris. (Lisa's History Room)

“The shrine to the eternal love of Diana and Dodi, on view at Harrods, doesn’t have quite the same impact once you hear about Kelly’s role in the story. It’s still tacky, but it’s no longer touching. It’s calculated. What Al Fayed has created is a shrine to himself: “Look at how I have suffered” is the message…. 

“Dodi loved taking movie stars to Hollywood parties and premieres and being photographed with them. He once said to his friend, former gossip columnist Jack Martin, 

‘When do you think I’ll go out with a girl so famous I’ll get my picture on the cover of People?’

“… ‘Well, he got his wish.’ said Jack. ‘A little late, though.'”

Princess Diana graces the cover of the August 25, 1997, issue of People Magazine. (Lisa's History Room)

source:  “Two Ladies, Two Yachts, and a Billionaire,” by Dominick Dunne, May 2008, Vanity Fair.

Readers: For more posts on this blog about the British Royal Family, click here.  See, in particular, “Princess Diana: Death Photos Leaked.”

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