Just five days after the death of Princess Diana in a car accident, British Royal patriarch Prince Philip was worried about public criticism that he, Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family were not mourning enough over the loss of Prince Charles’ ex-wife.
The letter, written by Prince Philip shortly after the August 31, 1997 Paris auto accident killed the 36 year old Diana, surfaced this week after it was sold at an auction of royal memorabilia — for a price of £2,300 or about $3,500 in U.S. currency.
At the time, as thousands in Britain and around the world mourned the beloved Princess, Queen Elizabeth was the subject of widespread public anger for her refusal to order the flags over Buckingham and other royal palaces to be flown at half mast, and the perception that the royals were not showing enough grief over Diana’s horrifying death.
The royals went to church on the same day that Diana was killed — bringing her two sons and heirs to the British throne Prince William and Prince Harry with them. The two boys were 15 and 12 years old, respectively, at the time.
“We have even been criticized for ‘forcing’ the boys to go to church on Sunday, the day of the accident,” Prince Philip says in the letter, written to his niece Princess Margarita of Baden on September 5, 1997.
The two young princes attended church services just hours after learning of their mother’s death from their father, Prince Charles as the royal clan holed up in Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
In the letter, Philip goes on to sharply note that churches are places for praying, which is why he did not think taking William and Harry to church was inappropriate.
The letter’s previous owner, whose identity was not revealed by auction house Reeman Dansie, was quoted as saying the letter was sold because it was “historically significant.”
The note from the then-76-year-old Prince Philip to his niece was partially handwritten and partially typed, and according to a statement from Reeman Dansie, revealed the royals’ “strong feelings regarding the press and public hysteria and criticism after the death of Princess Diana.”
In the letter, Philip — who married then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 when she was 21 and he was 26 years old, complains about how the public outpouring of grief over Diana’s death “is making the job of protecting and comforting the young Princes difficult,” according to the auctioneers.
In the letter, Prince Philip describes the days following the death of Princess Diana as a “nightmare” for the British Royal Family.
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