A tragic Christmas letter written by Princess Diana in which she revealed her hopes that 1997 ‘will be an easier year’ has come to light after a collection of her correspondence was put up for auction.
In the poignant note from December 17, 1996 – eight months before she died in a car crash in Paris – Diana also revealed her intention to spend the upcoming Christmas abroad ‘in the sunshine’, adding jokingly: ‘I will top myself if I remain here!’
The tone of the two-page letter reflected the traumatic year the Princess of Wales had just endured, having come through her divorce to Prince Charles.
It was widely thought Diana 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 at 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 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 us all.’
Diana went into 1997 in a relationship with the heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan but this came to an end in July.
She then entered into a brief relationship with Dodi Fayed who died alongside her in the car crash 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 got to know Diana well during the last two years of her life, are selling the collection at auction with some of the proceeds going to charity.
In a second and upbeat letter sent to the Kassems in September 1996, Diana wrote of how she was looking forward to her future.
She wrote: ‘I am more than happy to have my freedom & reckon that I’m very fortunate to have a second chance!
‘Lots of nice things have come my way and it’s fun… who’d have thought!’
In a letter wrote in September 1996, Diana said she was ‘happy to have my freedom’
She also mentioned how fortunate she was to have been given a second chance
Mimi Connell Lay, of Lay Auctioneers of Penzance, Cornwall, which is selling the letters, 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 really 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.
‘Diana spent the Christmas of 1995 with the Kassems and it is clear in 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 remark given she put an exclamation mark on the end of it.
‘The letter she sent in September 1996 was far more upbeat and about her looking forward to the future.
‘Of course at this time she was in a relationship with Hasnat Khan 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 in their 70s now, have treasured the letters for over 25 years.
They have decided to sell them as they feel a great responsibility owning them and don’t want to pass that on to their children or grandchildren.
The letter Diana wrote on December 17, 1996, reads: ‘I was so thrilled to receive flowers and a glass bowl, thank you very much indeed for thinking of me. 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!
‘I hope ’97 will be an easier year for us all.’
She then goes on to refer to the death of her close friend Yannis Kaliviotis, whom she knew as John. The 27-year-old died earlier that year from cystic fibrosis.
She added: ‘I think often of John and his family and miss them more than I could ever have imagined.’
The letters will be sold on February 16.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk