Times - Diana Planned Secret Marriage

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Times - Diana Planned Secret Marriage

Postby bjr » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:47 pm

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 184182.ece


Paul Burrell, the former royal butler, said today that Diana, Princess of Wales, never wanted to marry Dodi Fayed but had considered a secret marriage to another lover.

Mr Burrell said that before the couple split up there had been plans for Hasnat Khan, 48, a consultant cardiologist, to move into the Princess's residence at Kensington Palace.

The butler claimed that Diana had even discussed the possibility of a secret marriage to Mr Khan at a Catholic church and that the Princess's very public trip with Dodi to St Tropez in 1997 was used to make her former boyfriend jealous.

Mr Burrell told the packed London courtroom that the Princess had become "exasperated" when she failed to persuade the intensely private consultant to embrace public life with her.

"She asked me if it was possible to arrange a private marriage between her and Hasnat Khan," Mr Burrell said.

He said the Muslim consultant's relationship with Diana lasted up to two years, adding: "The Princess said this was her soul-mate, the man she loved more than any other.

"It was a very deep and spiritual relationship. I witnessed it at first hand and they were very much in love."

However they broke up "abruptly" in the wake of the Princess's birthday in July 1997 after a visit to Battersea Park in South London .

Mr Khan, nicknamed "Mr Wonderful" by Diana, met the princess in 1995 when she visited a friend at London's Royal Brompton Hospital. He has now returned to his homeland, Pakistan.

Mr Burrell said she was frustrated after failing to persuade the cardiologist to enter the "public spotlight" in what became "a stalemate situation" between them.

He said that despite being upset at breaking up with Mr Khan shortly before her trip with Dodi she was still "burning a candle" for him.

The former aide to the Princess told the inquest that just days before she died she had told him she needed marriage to Mr Fayed like a "rash".

Asked by Ian Burnett, QC, counsel for the coroner, about her later relationship with Dodi, Mr Burrell said that the Princess was only too aware of the media coverage their trip to St Tropez in August 1997 would create.

"It was conducted on a world stage. She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that the photographs taken in public would be transmitted around the world.

"She knew full well that Dr Khan would start the day at his local shop to pick up the papers.

"It was message, I believe, to say, 'Look at me now, look where I am.' I knew her inside out."

Asked by Mr Burnett whether her motive for holidaying with Mr Fayed was to get back at Mr Khan, Mr Burrell, 49, replied: "I think that's part of what I am saying. I think she was also genuinely fond of Mr Fayed. He was a charming man.

He said the "upper levels" of the Royal family, including Prince William and Harry, had known of the Princess's affection for Mr Khan and her then neighbour, Princess Margaret, knew of the medic's "clandestine comings and goings" at Kensington Palace.

"He was a regular fixture and fitting of the Palace," Mr Burrell said. "Plans were being made already for Hasnat to have his own quarters at Kensington Palace."

However, he stressed that she wanted Princes William and Harry – "the most important thing in her life" - to grow familiar with Mr Khan before any marriage could be considered.

Mr Burrell, who had flown from his home in Florida to give evidence at the High Court, said he had never been given the impression that Dodi Fayed was "the one".

But, she had enjoyed the relationship that developed during the final month of her life in 1997 and found her period with Mr Fayed an "exciting time" he said.

Dodi's father, Mohamed al-Fayed, is convinced that the pair, who died in a car crash in Paris in the early hours of August 31, 1997, were murdered. He believes the crash was the result of an MI6-led plot on the orders of the Duke of Edinburgh to prevent the couple marrying.

Mr al-Fayed believes Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child when she died and that the couple were about to become engaged on the night of the tragedy.

Mr Burrell told the court that he did not believe the romance had begun during a holiday on Mr al-Fayed's yacht at the end of July 1997, as is widely believed, but only after their return. The Princess enjoyed a holiday on the Jonikal yacht with her sons.

He said that although the couple had been in frequent contact after Diana's return to London, he was aware of Dodi visiting Kensington Palace only once during that time.

He said Diana was flown to Paris to visit the Villa Windsor, the former home of the abdicated Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, where Mr al Fayed believes the couple were planning to set up home.

But Mr Burrell said Diana had told him that the mansion, leased to Mr al Fayed, held "too many ghosts".

He said that by mid August the Princess's relationship with Dodi was "very fresh, new and exciting."

Mr Burnett went on: "By that stage had you any sense from the Princess that... to use a hackneyed phrase that has appeared in so many media reports, Dodi was 'the one'?"

Mr Burrell replied: "No, I didn't have that impression."

Asked how long the couple had been together by that stage, he said: "I certainly don't think the romance started on the first holiday. I think that would have been inappropriate with William and Harry being in attendance."

He added: "This was a very new friendship which developed into something more."
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