Letter: The example of royal Europe

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From Mr Stewart Gott

Sir: In her Panorama interview Princess Diana suggested that her situation as estranged wife of one potential monarch and mother of another is without precedent. Two similar situations that spring to mind are those of Isabella of France (1292-1358) and Livia Drusilla (58BC-AD29). Isabella, with the assistance of her lover Roger Mortimer, succeeded in overthrowing her husband Edward II in 1326, in favour of her son Edward III. Livia, the second wife of Caesar Augustus, successfully plotted - through methods that included the murder of his rivals - for the succession of her son, Tiberius.

So far, so good. However, it is worth noting that Edward III, having gained the throne, avenged the murder of his father by executing Mortimer, and so curtailed the political influence of his mother Isabella that she ended her life as a nun. Tiberius, once emperor, also threw off his mother's shackles, denying her honours and pushing her into the margins of public life.

Yours faithfully

Stewart Gott

Orpington, Kent

23 November