Princess Diana's Letters Read at Inquest

Ten years after Princess Diana's death, the public is getting a glimpse of her relationship with two of the men in her life — Prince Phillip, the queen's husband, and Dodi al-Fayed, her apparent lover.

Today, love letters between Diana and Fayed were read in court, which seem to underscore his father, Mohamed al Fayed's, assertion that his son and Diana were deeply in love.

In one letter, Diana thanked Fayed for a six-day holiday on his yacht. According to reporters present at the hearing, she wrote: "This comes with all the love in the world and as always a million heartfelt thanks for bringing such joy into this chick's life."

In another letter, she sent "Darling Dodi" some cuff links given to her by her father (whom she described as the man she loved most in the world) saying, "They are given to you as I know how much joy it would give him to know they were in such safe and special hands. Fondest love, Diana."

Fond In-Laws

While the inquest into her death is exposing a lot of dirty laundry, letters between Diana and Phillip show some rare royal tenderness for the princess.

"Dearest Pa," Diana begins her first letter to the prince. "I was so pleased to receive your letter, and particularly so to read that you are desperately anxious to help." She signs off "With fondest love."

The royal family hopes such warmth will silence Fayed's father, who still claims that the car crash that killed Diana and his son was no accident and that they were killed on the orders of Phillip.

"He was always very fond of her," Dickie Arbiter, the queen's former press secretary, said of Phillip. "As the queen was very fond her. These letters will finally nail that myth that he was the enemy."

In court the prince's trusty lieutenant, Sir Miles Hunt-Davis, was asked whether Prince Philip ever referred to Dodi as "an oily bed hopper."

"Extremely unlikely," Hunt-Davis replied.

Also unlikely, but true, are Prince Phillip's offers of support to Diana as her marriage floundered.

"If invited I will do my utmost to help you and Charles," he wrote. "But I am quite ready to concede that I have no talents as a marriage counsellor!!!"

Diana responded, "You really do care. … You are very modest about your marriage guidance skills. And I disagree with you."

If he offered any specific advice in letters, those excerpts weren't revealed in court. But Diana obviously appreciated her father-in-law's "great understanding and tact" — not the qualities the curmudgeonly prince is usually known for.

This is no ordinary family: exchanging letters, however tender, at a time of family crisis? Who knows, maybe they also shared a chat, a cup of tea and a hug. What we do know is that once Diana was divorced, there were no more "Dear Pa" letters and no more offers of a royal shoulder to cry on.

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