Princess Diana's post-Charles detachment from reality has been revealed, Mark Coultan reports.
PRINCESS Diana considered converting to Islam during her relationship with the Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, according to a new book.
An extract in Vanity Fair of The Diana Chronicles, by Tina Brown, says Diana fell for the doctor while visiting the husband of a friend in hospital. "Oonagh, isn't he drop-dead gorgeous!" she is said to have said after he left the room. Diana then proceeded to visit the surprised husband for 17 days straight in order to meet his doctor.
Brown writes that, in no time, her Kensington Palace apartment "was fragrant with the scent of burning joss sticks".
Diana became a student of cardiology, got the anatomical textbook Grey's Anatomy and watched the TV show Casualty every Saturday night.
One night she got caught by a News of the World photographer at the hospital at midnight. She rang the paper's royal correspondent and planted a story that she went there four hours a night, three nights a week to comfort terminally ill patients.
Although Diana's life has been covered in excruciating detail (there are 14 new books coming out to mark the 10th anniversary of her death) Brown provides details of Diana's detachment from reality, such as telling Brown over a lunch that she thought she could solve the conflict in Northern Ireland.
"I'm very good at sorting out people's heads," Brown quotes her as saying.
The New York Times reviewed the book, criticising Brown for relying on earlier books about Diana, but also saying: "At its best this book combines gossip, opinion and context in ways that cast new light on Diana's cautionary tale."
The extract in Vanity Fair, which Brown once edited, is focused on Diana's life after her divorce from Prince Charles. For a while, the relationship between the princess and the surgeon bloomed, she writes. He wasn't interested in high life or fashion, didn't want anything from her and had a dread of publicity.
Diana intended to turn a former equerry's room in Kensington Palace into a basement room for Natty, as he was known. On weekends, when her staff weren't there, she would cook dinner for him.
"Marks and Spencer have got these very clever little meals that you just put the timer on and press the button and it's done for you!" Diana is quoted as telling her therapist, Simone Simmons.
On his birthday, she went out to meet him wearing her best sapphire and diamond earrings, a fur coat and nothing else.
She would also spend the day at his messy one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, where she would vacuum, do the dishes and iron his shirts.
Her trips to Pakistan with Jemima and Imran Khan were covers to ingratiate herself with his family. She turned up without notice to his family's house in Lahore.
But Hasnat's mother had no intention of letting her son marry anyone other than a Pakistani Muslim girl.
The episode deeply upset Hasnat Khan, who had concluded that Diana, abandoned by her mother when she was six, needed more love than any man could give her.
Diana's dream was that the two of them would become international humanitarians. Diana was delusional about the relationship. She talked to Jemima Khan late at night about how to handle marriage to a traditional Muslim man. She even got her butler, Paul Burrell, to ask a priest if it was possible to get married secretly.