Princess Diana joked about “topping” herself if she spent Christmas 1996 in England.
In a newly published touching letter – which is set to go to auction as part of a collection next week – the late Princess of Wales opened up to her friends about her festive plans eight months before she died in a car crash.
In a two page note to her close friends, she wrote: “I am off abroad for a week on the 24th to the sunshine, as not being a lover of Christmas, I will top myself if I remain here!”
The letter is one of 32 notes and cards sent from Diana to close friends Susie and Tarek Kassem, with the pair selling the items at auction with some proceeds going to charity.
The princess started and ended the note by thanking her friends for flowers and a glass bowl they gifted her, and paid tribute to her friend Yannis Kaviliotis – who she knew as John – following his death from cystic fibrosis earlier that year aged just 27.
She continued: “I hope ’97 will be an easier year for us all – I think often of John and his family and miss them more than I could ever have imagined.”
The Kassems – who met Diana for the first time in August 1995 during one of her regular visits to the Royal Brompton Hospital – decided to put the letters up for sale because “owning the documents is a great
responsibility” which they don’t want to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
The notes will be sold individually and are expected to fetch around £90,000, with proceeds being donated to charities supported by the late princess.
As quoted by the Daily Express newspaper, Mimi Connell Lay, of Lay Auctioneers in Penzance, Cornwall, said: “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 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.
“She spent the Christmas of 1995 with the Kassems and it is clear in this letter she had made plans not to spend the next one alone at Kensington Palace.
“I think the line about topping herself was a throwaway, lighthearted remark given the exclamation mark.”