Thursday 19 June 2008

Diana 'planned secret wedding to Hasnat Khan'

Diana, Princess of Wales explored the possibility of a secret wedding to Hasnat Khan, the heart surgeon with whom she had a two-year relationship, her former butler told the inquest into her death.

Aware of the constitutional and religious complications entailed in the Christian mother of a future king marrying a Muslim man, the Princess asked her butler, Paul Burrell, to find out "if it would be possible to arrange a private wedding".

Mr Burrell, 49, discussed the matter in 1996 with his own Catholic priest Father Anthony Parsons at the Carmelite Catholic Church in Kensington, West London, without Mr Khan's knowledge.

The Princess, who described Mr Khan as her "soulmate" and "the man she loved more than any other", Mr Burrell said, broke off her relationship with Mr Khan in July 1997, after he said he did not want to become a public figure.

On a dramatic day of evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Burrell also revealed that:

  • The Princess had discussed giving Mr Khan his own rooms in Kensington Palace and having a second home in his native Pakistan

  • Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wrote "startling" and "cutting" letters to the Princess after her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales broke down

  • The Princess dated Dodi Fayed to make Mr Khan jealous in the hope that he would rekindle their romance

  • The Queen warned Mr Burrell of "powers at work in this country" shortly after the death of the princess

  • The Princess's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, called her a "whore" and talked disparagingly of her relationships with Muslims.

Mr Burrell, who worked for the Princess from 1987 until her death, said she had had a "very deep, spiritual relationship" with Mr Khan, which ended "abruptly" during a late-night meeting in Battersea Park just days before she first met Mr Fayed.

Paul Burrell, Dodi Fayed, Diana, Princess of Wales and Dr Hasnat Khan
(Left to right) Paul Burrell, Dodi Fayed, Diana, Princess of Wales and Dr Hasnat Khan

He said the Princess was "excited" by Dodi's attentions, but believed she was still "burning a candle" for Mr Khan and had no intention of marrying Mr Fayed.

Asked if the Princess had ever contemplated marriage to Mr Khan, Mr Burrell said: "Yes she did, and she asked me if it would be possible to arrange a private wedding between herself and Mr Khan.

"The first person I thought I should consult was my parish priest, Father Andrew Parsons. The Princess had attended mass at the Carmelite Church in Kensington and prayed there with me.

"Father Parsons knew exactly who I was talking about but he didn't know the man's name."

He added: "She was adamant Princes William and Harry would get to know Dr Khan and would like him before a marriage took place.

"Plans were being laid for Dr Khan to have his own rooms in Kensington Palace so he would have some privacy."

Mr Khan, 48, who now lives in Pakistan, has declined to give evidence to the inquest.

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