Princess Diana’s personal letters to friends during divorce from King Charles up for auction

Princess Diana’s personal letters to friends, which were written while she was going through her divorce from now-King Charles III, are going up for auction.

Lay’s Auctioneers, based in the UK, revealed in a statement that the letters will be sold “in individual lots” on 16 February. The company described the letters as “highly personal” and “astonishing,” and noted that they were written to two of the late Princess of Wales’ close friends, Susie and Tarek Kassem.

Lay’s Auctioneers also said that, although the two women have “treasured these letters for over 25 years,” they do not want to pass them down to other members of their family.

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

The auction house also shared a photo of one of the letters, written on Kensington Palace stationery, and signed with Diana’s signature and the date, 17 February 1996.

The date of the letter is months before Diana and the now-King finalised their divorce in August 1996. The pair, who share sons Prince William, 40, and Prince Harry, 38, separated in 1992 after 11 years of marriage.

In the letter shared by the auction house, Diana had written to Susie to thank her for her support.

“Thank you for all the lovely things you said to me on the telephone tonight,” she wrote. “You have no idea the joy and trust you and Tarek have introduced into my life and I count myself extremely fortunate [for you] both and thank you for believing in me.”

She concluded the letter with “Love, Diana,” along with an “X” for a kiss.

Lay’s Auctioneers also noted in its statement that Susie and Tarek “feel extremely privileged that they had the opportunity to get to know the princess so closely”.

They were also “amazed” by “the incredible effect” Diana had on “anyone who she came into contact with” and how “people’s fascination with [her] has hardly waned since her tragic death”. Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 at the age of 36.

The auction house said it has seen “how thrilled people are by the opportunity to own something of” Diana’s, which it said was another factor in the Kassems’ decision to auction the letters.

“The Kassems would like to give other people the opportunity of acquiring ‘a memento’ of the Princess,  and in doing so, support causes that were important to her,” the statement continued. “The Kassems have kept some of their more personal and confidential letters, but largely this collection of over 30 letters and notecards illustrate Diana’s immensely warm and loving disposition in a charming and delightful manner.”

Diana, Princess of Wales (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Wire)
Diana, Princess of Wales (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Wire)

The company also revealed that the collection will address Diana’s divorce, adding: “Some letters do touch on the enormous stress she was experiencing during periods of very public heartbreak, yet her strength of character and her generous and witty disposition shine through.”

The statement concluded by describing the “collection of correspondence” as being “written by one of the most important and influential women of the 20th century”, and of documenting “one of [Diana’s] most valued and significant friendships during the last two years of her life”.

Another one of Diana’s letters currently up for auction was also shared by The Times on Wednesday. In the note, which is dated 28 April 1996, the royal wrote to the Kassems to apologise for cancelling a trip to the opera, due to the stress that she had been feeling.

“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,” she wrote.

This auction comes a week after one of Diana’s signature outfits was sold. At the Sotheby’s auction, the royal’s iconic purple Victor Edelstein dress was sold for ​​$604,800, nearly five times more than its estimated price.