Princess Diana’s Personal Letters Written During Divorce Sell for $170,000 at Auction

“I hope 1997 will be an easier year for us all,” Diana heartbreakingly wrote in December 1996, never imagining what would happen that next August.

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty)

Earlier this month, Marie Claire reported that 32 of Princess Diana’s personal letters written during her divorce from the then-Prince Charles were being auctioned for charity. Now the letters—written to married couple Susie and Tarek Kassem and sold by Lay’s Auctioneers—have sold, netting $170,000, all of which is set to go to causes close to the late Princess of Wales’ heart.

Lay’s Auctioneers announced the sale of the collection two days ago; the letters, according to People, were sold in individual lots through the sale, called “Diana, the Private Correspondence of a Princess.” The notes were written on Kensington Palace stationary with Diana’s royal cypher and were written to the Kassems between 1994 and 1997—ultimately the last three years of her life. Lay’s Auctioneers described the letters’ contents as “astonishing” and “confidential” (well, until now, apparently).

“Susie and Tarek Kassem, as very close friends of Diana, Princess of Wales, have treasured these letters for over 25 years,” the auction house 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 or 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 beneficiaries of the $170,000 were not named. The U.K. auction house also added that the Kassems were keeping some of the “more personal and confidential letters” from Diana.

The collection gives a glimpse into how Diana felt as her divorce from Charles unfolded. (The Prince and Princess of Wales separated in 1992 and ultimately finalized their divorce on August 28, 1996—368 days before her death in a Paris car accident on August 31, 1997.)

The contents of Lot 418—which sold for $27,643—include Diana thanking Susie for sending her flowers, which she called “a lovely start to the week.” Diana also raised her suspicions that her Kensington Palace phone was bugged.

“As I don’t have a mobile [phone] it is difficult to discuss personal items,” Diana wrote. “As my lines here are constantly recorded and passed on.” That letter, dated May 20, 1996, also included remarks from Diana adding “If I had known a year ago what I’d experience going through this divorce, I’d never have consented. It’s desperate and ugly.”

Seven months later, in a letter dated December 17, 1996, Diana thanked Susie again for sending her flowers, a gesture especially appreciated “not being a lover of Christmas.” Diana, heartbreakingly, added “I hope 1997 will be an easier year for us all.” At that writing, she had no way of knowing that she had just a little more than eight months left to live.

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.