The Last Word
with Ingrid Seward
Behind the shy glances, the radiant smiles and the occasional
tears, the glamour and the good works that went to make up
her public image, lay the passions which made Diana the
extraordinary woman that she was.
She wanted to be loved, but more than anything she wanted to give
love. To the deprived and disadvantaged; to her sons, William and
Harry; to her husband, Prince Charles, if only he had allowed her to –
and to men with whom she became romantically involved.
I know, because Diana told me. Sitting on the floor, perched on the
edge of her bed, sitting on the sofa or in the kitchen, eating the
occasional Italian takeaways and microwaved ready meals and
drinking endless cups of herbal tea, we would talk for hours on end
about her hopes, her cares, her interests and her love affairs. She held
nothing back. She was far too open-hearted to bottle up her feelings.
If a project caught her interest or a man her eye, she wanted to discuss
it, right down to the frankest detail.
And, as is the way when two friends are gossiping, one topic would
lead easily into another. That is how she came to tell me of the fling
she had with John Kennedy Jr.
Diana and I were in her sitting room at Kensington Palace. She was
wearing a pair of stylish yet comfortable beige suede ankle boots, a
pair of jeans and a V-necked cashmere sweater that cost a great deal of
money. We were sitting for a change on the sofa rather than on the
floor when she brought up the subject of the remarkable woman she
admired: Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She couldn't understand how she
could have wed Aristotle Onassis, 'that Greek Frog', as she called him,
especially after she had been married to Jack Kennedy.
She described the late president as 'delicious' and from there the
conversation moved on to his son, John Jr.
She asked me what I thought of him and I said that I didn't really
have an opinion as I didn't know him. She had a picture of him pulled
from one of the newspapers she had delivered every morning, pointed
at it and said, 'He's very good-looking isn't he?'
She had met him in New York in 1995 when he was trying to
persuade her to give an interview to his magazine, George. She turned
down the request for the interview but agreed to meet him in her
suite at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side.
Diana was staying at one of the penthouse suites with large plateglass
windows looking over Central Park and across the Manhattan
skyline to the Twin Towers. The rooms, with a grand piano in one,
were elegantly furnished in the manner of a private house rather than
in the bland style favoured by so many hotels. The room was $3200 a
night, which Diana thought expensive.
When Kennedy arrived she was bowled over by his easy American
charm and the physique he worked so hard to keep in shape. She told
me, 'We started talking, one thing led to another – and we ended up
in bed together. It was pure chemistry.'
Diana was usually very circumspect in her courtships and
approached them cautiously, insisting on getting to know the man
and then examining her feelings to see if she really wanted to make an
emotional commitment before she was prepared to make a sexual
Diana had given the Royal Family something that it was
conspicuously lacking, which was sex appeal. She was the Ginger
Rogers to Charles's Fred Astaire in the way that she brought glamour
and romance to a dull, dusty institution. And as she made the
transformation from a shy bride into a beautiful and mature woman,
she came to like the effect she had on people and the way that men
started to look at her. But there was always something of the ingénue
about her. She did not have real womanly confidence, and, although she could be an outrageous flirt, there was always an innocence about
her. Not every woman is aware of her sexuality, and Diana really was
not aware that she had any real sex appeal.
With Kennedy it was different. He made her feel desirable, wanton
and very womanly. It was, she admitted, a moment of pure lust – the
only time in her life that she succumbed in that way.
My mouth dropped open. I was so flabbergasted that for a few
seconds I couldn't say anything. She had just started seeing Hasnat
Khan and, although there had been no real physical contact, she was
very much in love with him which I thought would have precluded
anyone else. I cried out, 'What! You're joking, aren't you?' and I really
thought she was.
She replied, 'No, I'm not. It happened. And he was an amazing
lover – a ten, the tops.'
Diana was keen on that rating system. James Hewitt came in at
nine, Oliver Hoare as a six. Hasnat Khan was saved the
embarrassment of being rated. Prince Charles, on the other hand,
barely made the chart at all.
Diana felt very pleased about her encounter with JFK Jr. She
thought it was fantastic that for once she had got someone (other
than Hasnat) whom she wanted, as opposed to being someone else's
catch. It put a notch on her belt and she was tickled pink that it was
JFK, one of the best-looking and most sought-after men in America,
with a real body beautiful that came from endless workouts in the
gym. He was a year older than her and three inches taller, which
counted for a lot because Diana didn't like short men.
What gave their brief liaison an extra dimension was that she
admired him and the way he had dealt with the pressures which came
with being the son of America's best-loved president. Looking to her
eldest son and the responsibilities he was born to inherit, she said,
'I'm hoping that William grows to be as smart as John Kennedy Jr. I
want William to be able to handle things as well as John does.'
Being Diana, she naturally wanted to take the relationship further.
She started fantasising about what a powerful team they would make,
and how, if everything went right, she could have become part of
America's 'royal family'. On a trip to Washington she had been taken
on a tour of the White House and told me afterwards, 'I would have
loved it there,' and thought that, were Kennedy to follow his father
into politics as everyone expected him to do, she might eventually
become the First Lady of the United States.
Looking back, I wish I had asked her more, but the conversation
then moved on to Grace Kelly and Diana's conviction, based, it must
be said, on no evidence, that the former film star had been murdered
when she let slip that she was planning to divorce her husband, Prince
Rainier of Monaco. She identified with Kelly, a comparatively
ordinary girl who had become a princess, just as Diana had.
She felt much the same about Jackie Kennedy, who had married a
serial adulterer, yet succeeded in becoming an international symbol
of grace and good taste. She thought Jackie O had been the perfect
statesman's wife, a role that she imagined that she too might be able to
perform with style and dignity as the consort of her son.
When she got back to England she had John's astrological chart
prepared and discovered that because he was a Sagittarius and she had
Sagittarius rising, they were compatible in a number of respects, but
not enough to sustain the relationship.
Kennedy always spoke highly of the Princess and described her to
friends as 'fascinating, stimulating and beautiful'. For a short while
afterwards they stayed in touch: she telephoned and they had longchats
across the Atlantic. But it is always difficult to maintain a long
distance relationship and there was never an encore. She had more
love to give than any man could take, and when it came down to it, I
think he found her too needy. I told her, 'You want him 24/7 but let's
face it, unless you live in the United States you're not going to get him
24/7 – and probably not even then.'
She accepted that reality and, instead of dwelling on what might
have been, accepted her short liaison with Kennedy Jr for what it was
– an exhilarating fling. The following year he married Carolyn
Bassette and Diana wrote to wish him well. She hoped that his
marriage would work out better than hers had. By then, of course, she
had become deeply involved with Hasnat Khan, although he refused
to consummate their relationship until her divorce came through.
I cannot help but wonder, though, what would have happened if Kennedy had been able to give her what she wanted, and she could have taken the stresses of being the consort of a Kennedy. They might both still be alive today.
It was not to be. Diana had her own life to live, with all that that
From the book DIANA-The Last Word by Simone Simmons with Ingrid Seward. Copyright (c) by Simone Simmons and Ingrid Seward. Reprinted with permission from St. Martin's Press, LLC.