Princess asks the Queen to hasten divorce

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The Queen has been urged to intervene again in the divorce negotiations between the Prince and Princess of Wales after a personal complaint from the Princess that talks between the pair's representatives have effectively stalled.

The Princess met the Queen on Wednesday to express her concern at the slow progress of the proceedings, which have lasted for nearly five months. In contrast the Duke and Duchess of York reached a divorce settlement within 10 days.

The Princess is believed to have "implied' that if Prince Charles's side failed to speed up progress she may simply pull out and wait for him to go for a divorce based on five years separation - meaning a delay of nearly two more years. They formally parted in December 1992.

The afternoon meeting with the Queen, who sees all senior members of the Royal Family on a regular basis, is regarded by some observers as yet another "ploy" by the Princess to obtain the best possible divorce terms.

The main obstacle to settlement appears to be money. Speculation about the lump sum the Princess has been seeking ranges from pounds 15m to pounds 50m, a sum the Prince could not afford on his own. He is thought to be looking for a cheaper deal based on annual payments from his Duchy of Cornwall. There are also negotiations over the Princess's title after divorce and the Government has to be consulted over her future role.

Buckingham Palace refused to confirm the meeting, merely observing that the Queen meets family members regularly and that "the Princess of Wales is no exception". Neither Jane Atkinson, the Princess's aide, or her solicitor would comment.