The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Philip and Di friends despite Rumour of ruction

- CHARLES MIRANDA

Aside from his well-known gaffes, Prince Philip had enjoyed a relatively controvers­y-free public image until 2008, when he was sensationa­lly accused of ordering the assassinat­ion of Princess Diana.

Diana had died a decade earlier but doubts about evidence presented at an earlier inquiry in France led to a British coroner questionin­g witnesses and challengin­g statements for the first time.

It was always going to be a sensation, but few at the Royal Courts of Justice could have imagined who would be blamed for her death, least of all Prince Philip.

Outside the court at the opening of the inquest in October 2007, Mohamed al-Fayed signalled what was to come when he claimed it was the royal family that killed Lady Diana, his son Dodi al-Fayed and their driver on August 31, 1997.

On February 18, 2008, the then billionair­e Harrods boss told the coroner it was Prince Philip, whom he referred to as the Nazi, the racist and Frankenste­in, who killed the trio in the Paris tunnel.

The Egyptian-born businessma­n used the court and the witness box to implicate everyone from MI6, the CIA, French authoritie­s, British police chiefs and even Diana’s sister Lady Sarah McCorquoda­le.

He claimed they were all involved, driven by the “risk” of future king of England Prince William having a Muslim stepfather.

Mr al-Fayed also claimed Diana had telephoned him to say she was pregnant just before she died.

Part of the plot, he said, included faking medical certificat­es and blood samples for driver Henri Paul. The pregnancy was part of the reason, he said; Prince Philip needed her gone.

Prince Philip reportedly had a fraught relationsh­ip with Diana.

One of the princess’s confidante­s, faith healer Simone Simmons, said Philip wrote Diana nasty letters calling her a “trollop” and a “harlot” and claimed her actions were

causing damage to the royal family. He also allegedly told her to put up with Charles’s affair with Camilla.

The letters, if they ever existed, went missing after her death.

After that revelation, Prince Philip took the rare decision to publicly dismiss the claims, incensed that they were now being requoted widely around the world.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoma­n said: “Prince Philip wishes to make it clear that at no point did he ever use the insulting terms described in the media reports, nor that he was curt or unfeeling in what he wrote. He regards the suggestion that he used such derogatory terms as a gross misreprese­ntation of his relations with his daughterin-law and hurtful to his grandsons.”

The palace also considered ed taking legal action but decided against it.

After Mr al-Fayed’s court t rant and the supposed letters, s, friends for both Prince Philip p and Lady Diana branded the e claims false.

Prior to her death, the pair had a good relationsh­ip, , they said, and he became a figure whom she turned to for paternalis­tic advice, even signing letters he wrote e her with “Pa”.

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