Letter written by Princess Diana 8 months before her death says she hoped 1997 ‘will be an easier year’
A tragic Christmas letter from Princess Diana, expressing her hope that 1997 will be “an easier year,” has come to light after a collection of her correspondence was auctioned.
In the poignant note dated December 17, 1996 – eight months before she died in a car accident in Paris – Diana also revealed her intention to spend the coming Christmas abroad “in the sun”, jokingly adding: ‘I’ll outdo myself if I stay here!’
The tone of the two-page letter reflected the traumatic year the Princess of Wales had just endured, after going through her divorce from Prince Charles.
Diana was widely believed to have spent her last Christmas alone at Kensington Palace, but according to this letter, she had arranged to fly abroad.
As is tradition in the royal family, William and Harry spent that Christmas in Sandringham with their father and grandparents.
Princess Diana wrote that she was looking forward to some Christmas sunshine abroad
In a poignant moment, she hoped that 1997 would be an easier year for herself
The letters were written just eight months before Princess Diana’s death
She then adds, “I hope ’97 will be an easier year for all of us.”
Diana got into a relationship with the heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan in 1997, but that ended in July.
She then got into a short relationship with Dodi Fayed who died with her in the car accident on August 31, 1997.
The letter has been revealed as part of the cache of 32 letters and cards Diana wrote to her close friends, Susie and Tarek Kassem.
The Kassems, who have come to know Diana well during the last two years of her life, sell the collection at auction, with part of the proceeds going to charity.
In a second and cheerful letter sent to the Kassems in September 1996, Diana wrote how she looked forward to her future.
She wrote, “I am more than happy with my freedom and think I am very happy with a second chance!
“A lot of nice things have come my way and it’s fun… who would have thought!”
In a September 1996 letter, Diana said she was ‘happy for my freedom’
She also shared how happy she was to be given a second chance
Mimi Connell Lay, of Lay Auctioneers of Penzance, Cornwall, who sells the letters, said: ‘The 1996 Christmas letter is heartbreaking. We have the benefit of hindsight, of course, and we know what happened to her in the year 1997.
“In that sense, it really is a tragic letter.
‘Diana really struggled with Christmas time as they always had to be spent at Sandringham House and she found that very difficult later on in the marriage.
Diana spent Christmas 1995 with the Kassems and it’s clear from 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 comment since she put an exclamation mark after it.
‘The letter she sent in September 1996 was much more optimistic and about her view of the future.
“Of course she was in a relationship with Hasnat Khan at the time, whom she had called the ‘love of my life’.
“Their relationship ended in the summer of 1997.”
Princess Diana pictured at a Christmas event in December 1996
The Kassems, who lived in London and are now in their 70s, have cherished the letters for more than 25 years.
They have decided to sell them because they feel a great responsibility to own them and do not want to pass it on to their children or grandchildren.
The letter written by Diana on December 17, 1996 reads: ‘I was so delighted to receive flowers and a glass bowl, thank you so much for thinking of me. I’m going abroad for a week on the 24th, to the sun, as I’m not a Christmas lover, I’ll outdo myself if I stay here!
“I hope ’97 will be an easier year for all of us.”
She then refers to the death of her close friend Yannis Kaliviotis, whom she knew as John. The 27-year-old died of cystic fibrosis earlier that year.
She added, “I think of John and his family often and miss them more than I could have ever imagined.”
The letters will be sold on February 16.