It’s becoming impossible to avoid the specter of separation, possibly even divorce, despite warnings from the Daily Mail that “if there’s a divorce, that’s the end of the royal family.”
But things are too far gone to repair.
On November 25, Charles visits Diana at Kensington Palace. He comes straight to the point.
He wants a separation. Immediately.
Diana agrees to it. She changes the locks on apartments 8 and 9 and gets a new number for her private telephone line.
In the dark of night, Charles’s house staff transfers his possessions from KP to the prince’s new London address, St. James’s Palace. Diana won’t miss his ceremonial uniforms, mahogany desk, and library of leather-bound history books. Nor will she miss the painting of Charles, her husband of more than eleven years, wearing a kilt.
It takes a convoy of moving vans to collect Diana’s belongings from Highgrove, but there is much she’s happy to leave behind. It’s especially easy to part with the king-size bed made “to last a lifetime,” a wedding gift from a West Midlands firm.
The most valuable of their more than ten thousand wedding gifts, worth more than $15 million altogether—including hundreds of uncut diamonds from the king of Saudi Arabia— will be stored at Windsor Castle.
A different fate awaits the lesser but unwanted reminders of married life.
In the gardens at Highgrove, a bonfire is lit.
Diana makes a special contribution—articles of Charles’s clothing. She’s always hated the “fuddy-duddy” way he dresses.
Notepaper headed CHARLES AND DIANA is consigned to the flames, along with figurines and keepsakes now fully stripped of sentimental value.
At 3:30 p.m. on December 9, the prime minister stands before the House of Commons. His words add smoke to the fire.
“It is announced from Buckingham Palace that, with regret, the Prince and Princess of Wales have decided to separate.
“The Royal Highnesses have no plans to divorce, and their constitutional positions are unaffected.”
At Middlewick House, Camilla faces the press.
“If something has gone wrong, I’m very sorry for them. But I know nothing more than the average person on the street. I only know what I see on television.”
Diana listens to the news on her car radio—in Vail, Colorado.
At last the world knows her secret.
“Oh well,” she says, resigned. “I suppose that’s that!”
Jenni Rivett, her personal trainer and friend, suggested that Diana come skiing with her in Vail when the princess mentioned how much she’s dreading being away from William and Harry. She won’t be joining the royal family at Sandringham for the holidays, and it’ll be the first one that her sons, now eight and ten, will be spending without her.
“Well, I’d love to, Jenni,” she’d said when her friend invited her to a place nearly five thousand miles away from London, where headlines put mounting pressure on her elder son. Isn’t it enough that he’s losing the stability of the only family he’s ever known without predictions of the separation forever altering his future? “MPs Say Charles Won’t Be King, Di Won’t Be Queen,” the Sun insists. “It’s Down to Wills.”
It might be snowing in Sandringham today, but it’s nothing compared to Vail.
From the top of a secluded trailhead, Diana skis off into the powder.
Copyright © 2022 by James Patterson. Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
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