Princess Diana Wrote That Her Honeymoon Was a “Tremendous Success” In a Letter to Her Family’s Former Housekeeper—Despite Finding Cufflinks Given to Prince Charles by Camilla Parker-Bowles

Nine letters written by the former Princess of Wales are predicted to net upwards of $25,000 at auction today.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nine letters written by Princess Diana in the early years of her marriage to King Charles (then Prince Charles) are predicted to pull in up to $25,000 at auction, The Daily Mail reports—and the first of the nine letters dates as far back as August 14, 1981, just as the young Princess of Wales, then just 20 years old, returned from her honeymoon with her new husband.

Princess Diana wedding dress

Charles and Diana, seen here on their July 29, 1981 wedding day, set off on a two-week honeymoon cruise aboard the royal yacht Britannia soon after their ceremony.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following their July 29, 1981 wedding, Charles and Diana returned from their two-week honeymoon cruise aboard the royal yacht Britannia on August 12, just two days before the first letter was written. In a letter written to Maud Pendrey—her family’s former housekeeper—Diana called her honeymoon a “tremendous success” and wrote that she and Charles had a “glorious time” on their getaway. That said, this account contradicts what she later told her voice coach about her honeymoon—snippets of which were shared in a documentary, where she spoke about how she confronted Charles about cufflinks given to him by Camilla Parker-Bowles.

“On our honeymoon, cufflinks arrive on his wrists,” Diana said. “Two Cs entwined like the Chanel ‘C.’ Got it. One knew exactly. So I said, ‘Camilla gave you those, didn’t she?’ He said, ‘Yes, so what’s wrong? They’re a present from a friend.’ And boy, did we have a row. Jealousy, total jealousy. And it was such a good idea—the two Cs—but it wasn’t that clever.”

Princess Diana

Diana and Camilla, seen here in 1980, the year before Diana married Charles.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But, in her August 1981 letter to Pendrey, none of this was mentioned. Instead, Diana is accentuating the positive: “I do hope you weren’t too tired after all the wedding activities, and that you were able to see a lot from where your seats were,” Diana wrote. “The honeymoon was a tremendous success, and we had a glorious time catching up on our lost energy and sleep. I just wanted you both to know how deeply touched I am by your thoughtfulness and, again, a million thanks. Endless love and affection—Diana.”

Charles and Diana’s differences emerged while on their honeymoon, royal biographer Penny Junor wrote in her book The Duchess. While Charles wanted to swim, read, paint, and write thank you notes, Diana wanted to spend time talking with her new husband. “He’d taken along his watercolors, some canvases, and a pile of books by the Afrikaner mystic and writer Laurens van der Post, which he’d hoped he and Diana might share and then discuss in the evenings,” Junor wrote. “Diana, however, was no great reader. She hated his wretched books and was offended that he might prefer to bury his head in one of them rather than sit and talk to her. She resented him sitting for hours at his easel, too, and they had many blazing rows. One day, when Charles was painting on the veranda deck of Britannia, he went off to look at something for half an hour. He came back to find she’d destroyed his painting and all his materials.” Well, that’s one way to begin a marriage. 

Princess Diana

The Prince and Princess of Wales at Balmoral right around the time Diana would have written her August 1981 letter to Pendry.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Other letters to Pendrey reveal Diana’s happiness about motherhood, including how, after the birth of her first child, Prince William, on June 21, 1982, she wanted “masses more” babies. “Enclosed is a picture of an extremely proud and lucky mother, and I just wondered if you’d like it!” Diana wrote on September 8, 1982 from Balmoral Castle. (Somewhat eerily, exactly 40 years later, her mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth would pass away at that exact location on that exact date.) In that same letter, Diana added “William has brought us so much happiness and contentment, and consequently, I can’t wait for masses more. We are up in Scotland until the end of October, which is particularly spoiling, but greatly appreciated.”

Later, in a September 25 thank you letter, Diana wrote “We are so thrilled and delighted with your wonderful cardigans. Thank you so much for spoiling William. He doesn’t deserve it! At the rate he is growing, it won’t be long before the cardigans fit!”

William Diana Charles At Home

The couple with their firstborn William, who was born in June 1982.

(Image credit: Tim Graham)

Two years later, while pregnant with Prince Harry, Diana still seemed happy—and Diana later said that she and Charles were closest during her second pregnancy in 1984. “It was so kind of you both to have remembered us on our wedding anniversary,” Diana wrote from Highgrove on July 29, her and Charles’ third anniversary. “We were enormously touched by your card, and I just wanted to write and say a big thank you. Unlike some married couples, we both remembered the occasion, and luckily thought that the three years had flown past! What with the baby arriving soon, our lives seem to be very busy, but we’d have it no other way!” Harry was born about seven weeks later, on September 15.

Another letter showed Diana’s sense of humor—as well as Diana’s fondness for Pendrey and her husband, Ainslie, a butler: “When the helicopter took off from Althorp yesterday, we flew over your house, and I just wondered if you’d seen me waving,” she wrote. “The family seems to be constantly expanding, and Sarah’s baby is very sweet with extremely long fingers. I just wanted you both to know that I must have seen one of the Pendreys—I was waving frantically!”

Prince Charles and Princess Diana

After their peak closeness in 1984, fractures began to emerge in the marriage; the couple eventually separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Diana’s final two letters were written in 1986, The Daily Mail reports. “I wanted to write and say how very sad I was to hear about Mr. Pendry,” Diana wrote on December 24—Christmas Eve—after Ainslie’s death. “I can only imagine that, when something like this happens, how empty you must feel.” The second, written two years later, read “It was so sweet of you to have sent us a lovely card for our anniversary. We were thrilled to bits to get it, and very touched by your thoughtfulness.”

These letters first emerged into the public consciousness 22 years ago, and were sold for £22,000 to hotelier Michael Rockall, who displayed them at the Whittlebury Hall in Towcester, Northamptonshire. “I think this collection is amazingly exciting, and I am overjoyed to have bought it,” he said at the time. “The price was pretty near the level we wanted to go to, and I thought it might go abroad. I feel very strongly that something like this should stay in England. I view it as being a particularly personal collection that the princess wrote to someone who she would have known personally for a long time.”

In 2002, Diana would have passed away just five years prior, in a car accident in Paris in 1997. The collection—which also includes 14 Christmas cards, a signed photograph, and an invitation to Charles and Diana’s wedding—eventually became the property of Jeff and Carol Sargeant, who are selling the collection through Julien’s Auctions.

royal beauty - princess diana

So many aspects of Diana's personality come through in the nine letter collection, which is up for auction today.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“The collection of letters, encompassing thank you notes, holiday greetings, and other correspondence, provides a rare look at Diana’s life beyond the carefully crafted public image,” the auction house wrote of the letters, which go on sale today. “In her own elegant script, Diana’s warmth and genuine compassion with others shine through. These letters reveal a woman who, despite her royal status, remained grounded and appreciative of the people in her life, from her staff to her close confidants.”

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.