Princess Diana’s letters revealing anguish over ‘desperate and ugly’ divorce are sold for £161,000
An archive of personal letters by Princess Diana revealing her misery at her ‘desperate and ugly’ divorce and her hopes for 1997 sold for £161,000 today.
The personal letters reveal how the Princess of Wales had sought support and advice from friends Susie and Tarek Kassem throughout her acrimonious and public split from the then Prince Charles in the mid 1990s.
There are 32 letters and message cards where Diana described how the negotiations over hers and Charles’ divorce settlement had left her ‘on [her] knees.’
Elsewhere, she took veiled digs at the Royal Family for isolating her, expressed her fears that her phone was being bugged, and thanked the pair for letting her spend an otherwise lonely Christmas and Easter with them.
The Kassems said that owning the poignant letters was a responsibility that they did not wish to pass on to their children or grandchildren and so sold them at auction in individual lots.
Princess Diana’s close friends Susie and Tarek Kassem have auctioned 32 personal letters written to them by the late princess
Diana met Mrs Kassem at the Royal Brompton Hospital in 1995 and the pair hit it off straight away.
The most valuable letter was the one that Diana wrote in December 1996, just eight months before she was killed in a car crash in Paris.
The letter described her plans to spend Christmas abroad in the sunshine and of her hopes that 1997 ‘will be an easier year’ for her.
The two page letter on Kensington Palace headed notepaper sold for a hammer price of £26,000 (£31,000 with fees), which is a record for a Princess Diana letter.
The next highest price was for a letter she wrote to the couple on May 20th, 1996 about her phones being bugged.
She wrote to 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.’
This letter sold for almost £28,000 with fees, and another in which she apologised for cancelling on a trip to the opera due the stress of her divorce sold for £15,000.
In one letter, which sold for £15,000, Diana expressed her apologies for not being able to attend the opera due to the stress of her divorce
However, a less enticing letter she wrote after her divorce where she said she was ‘more than happy to have [her] freedom’ sold for three times less at £5,000
In total the archive sold for a whopping hammer price of £133,800, and with fees added on the overall price paid by the winning bidders was £161,000
However, a less enticing letter she wrote after her divorce where she said she was ‘more than happy to have [her] freedom’ sold for three times less at £5,000.
In total the archive sold for a whopping hammer price of £133,800, and with fees added on the overall price paid by the winning bidders was £161,000.
The Kassems, who are in their 70s and live in London, have disclosed that some of the proceeds will be donated to charities that Princess Diana supported.
Mimi Connell-Lay, of Lay’s Auctioneers of Penzance, Cornwall, said: ‘We are delighted for our clients and for the charities, which will benefit from some of the proceeds.
The personal letters by Princess Diana revealed her torment at her ‘desperate and ugly’ divorce
‘The results go to show the worldwide enduring appeal for Princess Diana and for people’s fascination for her.” She added: ‘A lot of the letters are emotionally raw and frankly astonishing.
‘She wrote a lot about what was going on in her life at the time, especially her divorce, and repeatedly referred to not having the 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.’
Tarek and Susie’s Chelsea home became a vital refuge. At weekends when her diary stretched emptily before her, they would invite her to jolly family lunches.
If their grown-up children were there too, so much the better. Sometimes they would take her out to restaurants off the beaten track to avoid the paparazzi.
Princess Diana’s letters were revealed this week in a remarkable cache of correspondence written by the princess to Susie Kassem – both women pictured here together
Diana crafted over 30 letters to her dear friends the Kassems. Within them she revealed how she thought her phones were being bugged
In two of the letters she thanks them for trips to the famous Compleat Angler in Marlow, and the French Horn at Sonning on the River Thames.
These were days when Diana was at her most relaxed — but the couple were also often there when things were tougher.
Susie had often been at her side when the princess was ambushed by paps. On one occasion she had been shocked by the aggressive treatment Diana received as she helped her board a flight to Spain at Heathrow airport.
The friendship between the two women grew from a chance meeting at the intensive care unit in the Royal Brompton Hospital. Susie, a London magistrate, was a hospital visitor, a volunteer who helped out with patients and staff.
Diana was seeing her Irish-born friend and acupuncturist Oonagh Toffolo, a former nurse to the Duke of Windsor. Oonagh’s husband Joe was being treated at the hospital, where he was under the care of cardiologist Dr Hasnat Khan.
And so it was that, in the space of just a few days in late August 1995, the princess met two people who were to have a profound effect on her life — Mrs Kassem and the heart surgeon with whom she fell in love.