Another two “highly personal” letters written by Princess Diana to two of her closest friends in 1996 are up for auction, revealing that the late royal was looking forward to better days ahead just eight months prior to her death.
In the note written to Susie and Tarek Kassem on December 17, 1996 on official Kensington Palace stationery, Diana thanked the couple for sending her flowers and a glass bowl before writing that she was planning to spend the holiday abroad in “the sunshine,” joking, “as not being a lover of Christmas, I will top myself if I remain here!” It was previously believed that the royal spent her final Christmas alone at Kensington Palace, as her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, traditionally would celebrate the holiday at Sandringham with their father, King Charles and late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. Diana added, “I hope ’97 will be an easier year for us all.” The princess started 1997 in a relationship with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, which came to an end that July. She then enjoyed a brief relationship with Dodi Fayed who died with her in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997.
In another newly released letter sent to the Kassems in September 1996, Diana wrote about how much she was looking forward to the future. “I am more than happy to have my freedom & reckon that I’m very fortunate to have a second chance!” she wrote. “Lots of nice things have come my way and it’s fun…who’d have thought!” These letters are just two of 32 notes from around the time of the royal’s divorce from King Charles going up for auction next week. Mimi Connell Lay, of Lay’s Auctioneers who is hosting the sale, told the Daily Mail of these two notes, “The Christmas 1996 letter is heartbreaking. We have the benefit of hindsight of course and we know what happened to her in the year of 1997. It really is a tragic letter in that respect. Diana did really struggle with Christmas time as they always had to be spent at Sandringham House and she found that really hard going later in the marriage. Diana spent the Christmas of 1995 with the Kassems and it is clear in this letter that she had made plans not to spend it alone at Kensington Palace. I think the line about topping herself was a throwaway and light-hearted remark given she put an exclamation mark on the end of it. The letter she sent in September 1996 was far more upbeat and about her looking forward to the future. Of course at this time she was in a relationship with Hasnat Khan whom she had called the ‘love of my life.’ Their relationship ended in the summer of 1997.”
In a statement regarding the sale of these personal letters, Lay’s Auctioneers described the correspondence as “astonishing, confidential,” and “highly personal,” explaining, “Susie & Tarek Kassem, as very close friends of Diana, Princess of Wales, 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. Now, in 2023, the ownership of these poignant documents is a responsibility that the Kassems do not wish to pass on to their children or grandchildren. They have decided to sell the letters and use proceeds of the sale to support some of the charities that were close to Susie and Diana’s hearts.”
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