Love letters shed light on Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed

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Love letters written by Diana, Princess of Wales, to Dodi Fayed, weeks before their fatal car crash in a Paris road tunnel were read yesterday to the jury hearing the inquests into their deaths. The letters show the couple were involved in an intimate relationship which Mohamed Al Fayed says supports his belief that they were secretly engaged and that Diana was carrying his son's child.

Mr Al Fayed alleges that this was the motive for an alleged plot in which he claims the Duke of Edinburgh ordered agents working for MI6 to arrange for the couple's deaths.

In a letter from Kensington Palace dated 6 August 1997, Diana thanked Dodi for a six-day holiday on his yacht. She wrote: "This comes with all the love in the world and as always a million heartfelt thanks for bringing such joy into this chick's life."

And in another, sending him some cufflinks, she wrote: "Darling Dodi, these cufflinks were the very last gift from the man I loved most in the world, my father. They are given to you as I know how much joy it would give him to know they were in such safe and special hands. Fondest love, Diana."

The letters were produced during the cross-examination of Diana's close friend Rosa Monckton.

In the cross examination, Michael Mansfield QC, for Mr Al Fayed, asked Ms Monckton: "She [Diana] was treating this relationship with Dodi as a serious matter, wasn't she? It doesn't suggest it was little more than a fling after a couple of days."

Ms Monckton replied: "She tended to speak and write in an extravagant way." But she agreed the letters were not just written to make someone happy. "It was clearly more than that," she told the jury.

Ms Monckton also gave evidence that Diana told her she would still have been in a relationship with the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan but for the fact that he could not cope with the limelight of publicity and had ended their friendship.

Mr Mansfield suggested that Diana ended the relationship because she was in love with Dodi. But Ms Monckton said that was not what Diana told her.

Mr Mansfield then asked her if Diana had misled her about what happened "because she was concerned about your hostility and animosity towards Mohamed Al Fayed". Ms Monckton said: "She was not misleading me. We talked about it a lot."

She denied "putting a gloss" on her recollection of what Diana told her. "She told me Hasnat would never have her back once the photographs of her with Dodi had appeared and she was very upset about it."

Asked about the ring that Dodi was buying for Diana, Ms Monckton said: "She said he was showering her with gifts and she did not want to receive so many and he was going to give her a ring and it was going firmly on her right hand."

Mr Mansfield suggested that Diana would not have been willing to say it was going on the left hand because she knew Ms Monckton did not approve of her relationship with Dodi. Ms Monckton said that was not the case, although it was true she did not approve of the relationship.

At this point in her evidence, Ms Monckton broke down. She told the jury: "Diana was a very good friend of mine for six years. She was godmother to my handicapped daughter and was by my side when I buried my other daughter. She was a very true and close friend. But that doesn't preclude her from not telling me certain things. You don't tell people everything the whole time."

After a short adjournment, the coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, told Mr Mansfield that the circumstances of witnesses should be taken into account. He had come "fairly close to the line" in his questioning and should be careful not to cross it.

Ms Monckton said Diana had told her she regretted the televised Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, in which she described the Prince of Wales's camp as the enemy and spoke of the need for the monarchy to modernise.

Ms Monckton said that if she had known Diana was planning to agree to the interview, she "would have told her not to do it because it was undignified and would not have been good for the boys, exposing herself in that way".

The inquests continue.