Princess Diana Archive/Getty, Lay's Auctioneers
Lay's Auctioneers announced the sale of 32 letters the late Princess of Wales sent to Susie and Tarek Kassem during the last two years of her life. The English auction house described the "highly personal letters and cards" as "astonishing" and "confidential." The notes are set to hit the auction block in individual lots on Feb. 16.
"Susie & Tarek Kassem, as very close friends of Diana, Princess of Wales, have treasured these letters for over 25 years. They reflect the special and loving relationship they had with the most unique women that they had ever known," Lay's said in a statement. "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."
Georges De Keerle/Getty Princess Diana and Prince Charles
The auction house released a photo of one of the letters, dated February 17, 1996, on Kensington Palace stationery with Diana's royal cypher.
"Darling Susie," Diana began in the note. "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..."
"Love, Diana," she wrote, adding an "X" for a kiss.
Lay's said that the Kassems decided to auction some of the correspondence "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 charities that the sale of the letters will benefit were not named in the statement.
"The Kassems have kept some of their more personal and confidential letters, but largely this collection of over 30 letters and notecards illustrate Diana's immensely warm and loving disposition in a charming and delightful manner," the release continued. "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."
"It is an extraordinarily poignant collection of correspondence, written by one of the most important and influential women of the 20th century, and documents one of her most valued and significant friendships during the last 2 years of her life," it concluded.
Tim Graham Photo Library
The letters fall within the time that Diana's divorce from Charles was finalized. After 11 years of marriage, the pair separated in December 1992, with a divorce made official in August 1996. One year later, Diana died in a car accident in Paris at age 37.
In one letter shared by The Times, Diana wrote with candor to the Kassems, apologizing for canceling plans to go to the opera together because of the stress she felt.
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"I am having a very difficult time and pressure is serious and coming from all sides. It's 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," Princess Diana reportedly wrote in a note dated April 28, 1996.
According to the outlet, Princess Diana also confided in the couple over fears that her phone at Kensington Palace was "constantly" bugged and thanked her friends for celebrating Christmas with her in 1995 when her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were at Sandringham with their father and the royal family.