Princess Diana at the christening of Domenica Lawson in 1995
With characteristic care, she sent each of her 17 godchildren a card and presents on their birthday and every Christmas — followed by a visit laden with hugs and kisses.
For these youngsters, Princess Diana was the best godmother in the world.
But then, on August 31, 1997, the presents stopped. Tragically, too, after Diana’s death there was an unseemly row over her godchildren’s inheritance which saw them end up with little more than trinkets despite her £21 million estate.
Today, those adored youngsters — aged between two and 15 in 1997 — are now mostly in their 30s. The churlish ignoring of Diana’s instructions that were carefully written into a ‘letter of wishes’ accompanying her will is buried in the past.
Their warm memories are more important than the money. The ten girls and seven boys were mainly the offspring of Diana’s oldest friends — classmates and flatmates, with a sprinkling of newer friends or via a dynastic link.
Here, on the anniversary of the Princess’s death, CHRISTOPHER WILSON looks at what has happened in the lives of Diana’s godchildren . . .
PRISON REFORMER MARRIED TO THE BBC’S ‘HISTORY HUNK’
Lady Edwina Snow, 36, is the daughter of the Duke of Westminster
Lady Edwina Snow, 36
Daughter of the Duke of Westminster who died of a heart attack two years ago, aged 64, leaving an estate estimated to be worth £9.35 billion.
It centred around 300 acres of some of London’s most expensive land plus the 1,800-acre Halkyn Estate on the Flintshire/Denbighshire border and the 11,500-acre Eaton Estate just outside Chester. Edwina and her two sisters (Tamara Van Cutsem and Viola Grosvenor) were left £20,000 each with their brother becoming 7th Duke of Westminster.
Edwina is married to TV presenter Dan Snow — described as ‘the man who put hunk into history’. He’s the son of former BBC2 Newsnight presenter Peter — famed for his Swingometer on General Election nights. Dan got a double first in History at Oxford and rowed three times against Cambridge in the Boat Race.
The couple met ten years ago when sitting next to each other at a wedding. He says: ‘The person who did the seating plan set us up. I knew straight away she was the one for me. There was both a physical attraction and a remarkably deep and wonderful companionship.’
They wed in a low-key ceremony in Liverpool and are now parents to three young children.
Edwina is a criminal justice advocate who advises the Government. A prison reformer, she became passionate about penal issues while working in a jail in Nepal during her gap year.
She gives money to a range of projects such as The Clink, a restaurant chain based in prisons and staffed by prisoners, and Pathways, a programme in London with sustainable businesses run by ex-offenders.
Home is a £7 million house in the New Forest. But they have been through what her husband calls ‘difficult times’: her father’s death, her mother suffering breast cancer from which she has recovered, and her own late miscarriage.
WILLIAM’S ‘FIRST SWEETHEART’
Lady Alexandra Hooper, 35, on her wedding day
Lady Alexandra Hooper, 35
Senior director of City-based FTI Consulting, which describes itself as a ‘global risk and investigations practice’. Studied theology at Oxford before doing another degree in international security at Georgetown, U.S.
As the great-granddaughter of Earl Mountbatten, it’s likely she’ll inherit Broadlands in Hampshire, where the Queen and Prince Philip spent their honeymoon. Once described as Prince William’s early sweetheart. His mother, Diana, was a consoling presence when Alexandra’s sister, Leonora, died of cancer at the age of five in 1991.
Married in 2016 to Thomas Hooper, founder of Third Space Learning, an online maths tutoring organisation. Alexandra was given away by Prince Charles after her father, Lord Brabourne, who attended the ceremony, had thrown the family into disarray.
He had left Alexandra’s mother, Penny (Prince Philip’s carriage-driving friend) and had a four-year affair in the Bahamas with a fashion designer.
Last month, 97-year-old Prince Philip became godfather to her son, Inigo.
IMPORTS TEXTILES FROM AFRICAN TRIBES
Sussy Cazalet, 34
Daughter of Diana’s Norfolk childhood friend Isabel Dawnay. Her father is merchant banker Victor Cazalet. Her grandfather, Peter, was the Queen Mother’s racehorse trainer.
Her mother said: ‘Diana never forgot her birthday, always sent cards and presents, and took her out on treats whenever she could. She really was the most wonderful godmother, and would have been — even if she hadn’t been who she was.’
Sussy trained at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York before returning to Britain to set up her own interior design company in London.
Her studio works on furniture and has designed the interiors of a radio station in East London and a South Kensington members’ club. She says: ‘I’m interested in creating something that might change someone’s life.’
She sources materials made by women in a textile company in India and a firm staffed by tribes of women in Madagascar.
Camilla Shirley-Beavan, left, and Sussy Cazalet with Joseph Turnbull in November 2015
THE WIFE OF A ‘HUNTING PIN-UP’
Camilla Shirley-Beavan, 33
Daughter of Old Etonian farmer Reuben Straker and Diana’s pre-marriage schoolfriend and flatmate, Sophie Kimball. She is married to Charlie Shirley-Beavan, Master of Tynedale Hunt in Northumberland.
Described by Tatler magazine as a ‘hunting pin-up’, he’s descended from the Vestey baronets. He was once arrested (but not charged) during a protest march against the fox-hunting ban.
SON OF THE DEPOSED KING OF GREECE
Prince Philippos, 32
Youngest child of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and named after his paternal cousin (and godfather), Prince Philip. Educated in London and Washington DC.
Single, he is a New York-based financial analyst for Ortelius Capital, which was founded by Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, whose son’s godfather is Prince William.
Leonora Lonsdale, 31, right, is the daughter of Laura Lonsdale, who was Diana’s school friend and left is Prince Philippos, the youngest child of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WINNER
Leonora Lonsdale, 31
Daughter of Laura Lonsdale, who was Diana’s school friend, flatmate and one of her ladies-in-waiting.
Laura lost her son Louis at 11 months to cot death and was counselled through her grief by the Princess, said to have been ‘the nearest thing to an angel on earth’.
After Leonora’s father became infatuated with a Russian model, he and Laura divorced in 2013, with his wife receiving £9 million as part of the settlement.
Leonora is a film director and one of her movies, Beast, starring Billie Piper, won Best Drama Short at the Voice of A Woman Film Festival at Cannes Lions this year.
She’s also worked with Whoopi Goldberg on Black Dog, Red Dog while her documentary Ziona, about a cult in the Himalayas, recently premiered in the U.S. Descended from the 3rd Lord Raglan and married to film producer Jack Sidey.
DOWNTON ABBEY ‘HEARTTHROB’
Jake Warren, 31, the son of the Queen’s racing manager, Michael Warren
Jake Warren, 31
The son of the Queen’s racing manager, Michael Warren. One of William and Harry’s closest friends, and grandson of the 7th Earl of Carnarvon.
Educated at Ludgrove prep school and Eton (like the princes).
With his father, he runs the Highclere Stud, in the shadow of the family-owned High- clere Castle which was the set for the ITV drama Downton Abbey.
Many years ago he was described by Tatler as ‘the heartthrob who lives in the coolest house in Edinburgh and has the initials of all his best friends tattooed on his thigh . . . You can touch them but he’ll make you buy shares in the racing syndicate he co-owns . . . Good in bed, we hear.’
Now married to qualified yoga instructor Zoe Stewart, 34.
Their two-year-old daughter, Zalie, was the youngest bridesmaid at her godfather Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.
POSED NAKED AS A MERMAID
Lady Mary Luise Wellesley, 31
Daughter of 9th Duke of Wellington and niece of Lady Jane Wellesley, once tipped to marry Prince Charles.
Unmarried but has family’s extraordinary good looks.
Took an English degree at Oxford and then studied a 15th-century poet for her PhD.
Her sister-in-law is supermodel Jemma Kidd and she herself posed nude twice — once mermaid-style — for the portrait artist Howard Morgan.
Lady Mary Luise Wellesley, 31, left, is the daughter of the 9th Duke of Wellington and pictured right is George Frost, Eton and Newcastle-educated son of late TV host Sir David Frost
TV HOST’S SON WITH OWN BRAND OF RUM
George Frost, 30
Eton and Newcastle-educated son of late TV host Sir David Frost.
Created his own Jamaican/Barbadian blend rum, but known for helping raise £1.5 million to create a national testing service for rare heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, from which his brother died while jogging at 31.
His mother, Lady Carina, is sister to the Duke of Norfolk. But down-to-earth George has said he ‘never felt constrained’ by his parents’ ‘celebrity or aristocracy’.
HEDGE FUND MANAGER AND SON OF THERAPIST
Benjamin Samuel, 29
Son of Diana’s close friend, Julia Samuel, the author, grief therapist and founder of Child Bereavement UK. His father, Michael, is one of the Hill Samuel banking family. Educated at Westminster and Oxford. Works for Egerton Capital, a Mayfair-based hedge fund with £20 billion of managed assets.
‘BRAINIEST ROYAL’ AND ELIGIBLE BACHELOR
Edward Downpatrick, 29
Grandson of the Duke of Kent whose title he will one day inherit. Eton and Oxford-educated financial analyst said to be the brainiest member of the Royal Family.
His mother, Sylvana Tomaselli, is a Cambridge don while his father, the Earl of St Andrews, worked as a Foreign Office diplomat. One of Britain’s most eligible bachelors.
Lady Amelia Windsor and Brother Edward Windsor Lord Downpatrick (pictured left) at The National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Pauls Cathedral in London during the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations and pictured right is Jack Bartholomew
WINE CONNOISSEUR STARTED AS A BARMAN
Jack Bartholomew, 28
Son of posh party organiser Carolyn Pride, Diana’s flatmate and close confidante, and her husband William Bartholomew. After Stowe public school, he worked as a barman before launching into the drinks business, starting the EJB Wines shop in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, which specialises in the Loire valley.
LIFESTYLE GURU AND WEIGHT-LOSS EXPERT
Antonia Trower, 28
Granddaughter of the 11th Lord Suffield, a war hero and Norfolk squire who was a member of the Queen’s ceremonial bodyguard.
Her mother was at school with Diana while father, Audley Twiston-Davies, is a Herefordshire landowner.
Studied cancer biology and immunology at Bristol University and wed Edward Trower, an account manager for Deloitte, in 2016.
Works for a bio-tech firm helping people manage their weight and health.
Antonia Trower, 28, in May 2013, pictured right and Jack Falkner (left), 27, son of another of Diana’s school friends
SON OF DIANA’S SCHOOL FRIEND
Jack Falkner, 27
Son of another of Diana’s school friends, the former Izzy McDowell, who married Colonel Simon Falkner of the Life Guards.
HORSEWOMAN WITH TEAM GB
Antonia Harington, 26
Diana attended the marriage blessing of Antonia’s father, Jonathan Harington, and Susan Fenwick in 1989. Is an inner London primary school teacher and keen horsewoman who was part of the Great Britain eventing team.
Cousin Kit earned a reputed £2 million an episode for playing Jon Snow in Game Of Thrones.
WINSTON CHURCHILL’S GREAT-GRANDCHILD
Daisy Soames, 26
Winston Churchill’s great-granddaughter. Brainy (ex-Trinity College, Dublin) and brave, she loves riding horses in Kenya where she trained to be a Horse Safari Guide and runs her own business with the motto: ‘Kick on, hang on, and look behind you — there could be lions!’
MOTHER WAS DIANA’S CLOSEST FRIEND
Domenica Lawson, 23, pictured in November 2017
Domenica Lawson, 23
The youngest daughter of Mail columnist and former newspaper editor Dominic Lawson, and his wife Rosa Monckton, daughter of 2nd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.
When Domenica was born with Down’s syndrome on June 1, 1995, Diana immediately offered to be her godmother: Rosa (ex-boss of Tiffany & Co in London) was Diana’s closest friend in her latter days.
Domenica has completed a catering course and works at Team Domenica, a Brighton-based cafe and training centre founded by Rosa to provide employment training for young adults with learning disabilities.