Princess Diana’s Personal Letters to Friends During Her Divorce Are Being Auctioned for Charity

The 32-letter collection is both “astonishing” and “confidential.”

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty)

Princess Diana’s friends are selling letters she wrote to them in the midst of her divorce from the then Prince Charles, People reports—and while, yes, this seems like a bit of a violation (at least to this writer), the proceeds aren’t going to the friends themselves, but to charity. (Does that make it any less of a breach? You be the judge.)

Lay’s Auctioneers calls the letters “An astonishing, confidential collection of 32 highly personal letters and cards written by the Princess of Wales to two of her closest friends.” (Diana, of course, was Princess of Wales at the time, long before Catherine inherited the title in September 2022.) The letters were sent to Susie and Tarek Kassem during the last two years of Diana’s life, and interested parties can begin bidding on the letters on February 16.

“Susie and Tarek Kassem, as very close friends of Diana, Princess of Wales, have treasured these letters for over 25 years,” Lay’s Auctioneers said in a statement. “They reflect the special and loving relationship they had with the most unique women [sic] that they had ever known. Now, in 2023, the ownership of these poignant documents is a responsibility that the Kassems do not wish to pass on to their children and grandchildren. They have decided to sell the letters and use proceeds of the sale to support some of the charities that were close to Susie and Diana’s hearts.”

The auction house released a photo of one of the letters, dated February 17, 1996, written on Kensington Palace stationary with Diana’s royal cypher. (Charles and Diana separated in 1992 and finalized their divorce on August 28, 1996, six months after this letter was written.)

“Darling Susie,” Diana wrote, “Thank you for all the lovely things you said to me on the telephone tonight…You have no idea the joy and trust you and Tarek have introduced into my life and I count myself extremely fortunate both Tarek and you for believing in me…” She signed the letter “Love, Diana,” adding an “X” for a kiss.

Lay’s said the couple decided to auction some of the letters “to give other people the opportunity of acquiring ‘a memento’ of the Princess, and in doing so, support causes that were important to her.”

The specific charities that the sale of the correspondence will benefit were not named in the statement.

The statement did say, however, that “some letters do touch on the enormous stress she was experiencing during periods of very public heartbreak, yet her strength of character and her generous and witty disposition shine through.” In one such letter shared by The Times, Diana apologized for cancelling plans to attend the opera together because of the stress she was under.

“I am having a very difficult time and pressure is serious and coming from all sides,” she wrote. “It’s just too difficult sometimes to keep one’s head up, and today I am on my knees and just longing for this divorce to go through as the possible cost is tremendous.” That letter was dated April 28, 1996.

The Times reports that Diana also confided in the Kassems about fears that her phone at Kensington Palace was “constantly” bugged and thanked them for celebrating Christmas with her in 1995 when her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were at Sandringham with their father and the rest of the royal family. 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.