Spin doctors come into play on a matter of title

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The spin doctors from Britain's rival royal courts were yesterday in conflict. Buckingham Palace and the Princess of Wales's own media adviser continued at odds over the future title, role, residence and divorce settlement to be awarded to the princess.

After a day of quiet briefings and contradictory statements from her own office and the Palace, Diana cancelled a prearranged charity event. Her mood was described as "very upset and decidedly sad".

The Princess of Wales's private lobby was, according to indiscreet sources, describing a sad, lonely, almost neglected royal recluse all alone in the vastness of Kensington Palace. Her newly appointed media adviser, Jane Atkinson, said the Princess had reluctantly withdrawn from the British Red Cross 125th anniversary celebration. "The Princess wants a few days of quiet at home," she said.

Elspeth Thomas, chairman of the BRC council, said: "We are very sorry that HRH the Princess of Wales is unable to attend our event, but we fully understand and support the reasons for her decision."

The Prince of Wales, in contrast, was continuing with his royal duties. He visited the oil-spill coastal areas of Pembrokeshire. He should have been asked by the chasing media how he felt about the environmental disaster and plans that would stop another. But the only interest in oil was on the troubled waters of the royal marriage.

Divorce lawyers were yesterday described as "hard at work" by one royal source. The Princess's firm was seeking clarification from Buckingham Palace over her title after divorce. Despite her announcement on Wednesday that she would be called Diana, Princess of Wales, it emerged later that she would no longer be styled Her Royal Highness. But who agreed or ordered the removal of HRH?

There is also disagreement over whether or not there was a deal Diana should keep her Kensington Palace apartment and offices at St James's Palace.

The Princess, following a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with the Prince at St James's Palace, believed such things were resolved. So her advisers are saying in public. The Palace insists that, apart from an agreement to divorce, there was no deal.

According to a Cambridge lecturer in international politics, "We are being treated to a splendid drama. I can't wait for the next act. But please don't mention me by name . . . the knighthood, you know."

Diana's office say they are attending to the mess. Ms Atkinson said: "We are hoping the current situation can be cleared up very quickly and that negotiations can then continue in private. But we have agreed to differ with the Palace over whether the Princess decided to drop the style Her Royal Highness."

The constitutional expert Lord St John of Fawsley said that Diana would remain a member of the Royal Family. "She must be a member of the Royal Family because she is the mother of two of the princes. It is a tie of blood and family that cannot be deleted," he said.