By Rashmee Z. Ahmed, The Times of India News Network
LONDON -- In the ultimate irony, the late Princess Diana, Britain's self-styled 'Queen of hearts' and heart-throb of millions of readers of glossy magazines around the world, is now revealed to have been betrayed by every man in her life, including her only brother, her butler, the lover whose ring she died treasuring and famously, her adulterous husband.
On Tuesday, the betrayal by her brother, Earl Spencer, became office water-cooler gossip in a shocked Britain, as it was revealed that he had refused to let his hounded sister escape her crumbling marriage and seek peace, solace and refuge in a humble lodge on his fine country estate.
Significantly, after her death, the Earl insisted on taking Diana's body for burial to her ancestral home. Within one year of the royal funeral, the Earl had created a commercially-successful landmark memorial to his sister on the grounds of the family estate, Althorp.
As commentators tut-tutted about the never-ending royal soap opera, it was revealed that Diana had apparently died treasuring a signet ring owned by the first lover she took while married, Major James Hewitt.
The Princess is said to have kept Hewitt's ring close by her, in a locked wooden box in her sitting room. The box and the private treasures within vanished after her death, leading to suspicions that her butler had stolen them along with hundreds of other royal items.
That whodunnit has renewed the spicy allure of the rivetting but five-year-old Diana saga, putting yet more embarrassing fragments of the dead woman's life on public view as the butler's trial unfolds.
After a forlorn gap of many years, the British tabloid once again has the photogenic late Princess as its lead story.
Much of the gossip centres around the lover's ring and the brother's letters, underscoring what analysts are calling Diana's 'betrayal' by the men closest to her.
Her brother was unwelcoming during Diana's lifetime, it emerged late on Monday, as the Earl's harsh and unsympathetic letters were read out in a public courtroom during the butler's trial for theft.
The correspondence revealed that Diana had asked her brother to allow her to live on his estate. The Earl refused, saying he could not stomach the inevitable intrusion by the securitymen, public and press that followed his royal sister. At one point he even suggested he was too poor to be able to allow her to live rent-free on his land.
Royal-watchers are lamenting the common postscript to a magnificent royal story, but no one believes it is over yet.
"Dearest Duch," wrote the Earl in one letter, using the pet name by which his iconic sister was known to close family and friends. "I am sorry but I have decided that the Garden House is not a possible move. There are many reasons, most of which centre on the inevitable police and press interference that will follow
"Seriously though, there are farmhouses around here that may well not interfere with us, but I cannot afford to give them rent free although I wish I could. In theory it would be lovely to help you out and I am sorry I can't do that".
Diana, Princess of Wales kept a signet ring belonging to her former lover James Hewitt, a court heard October 21, 2002. Details of the memento emerged during the trial of Diana's former butler Paul Burrell after Mrs. Justice Ann Rafferty ruled that the ring could be introduced as evidence. Princess Diana is seen listening to speeches at the London Lighthouse center in this October 8, 1996 file photo. (John Stillwell/Reuters)
Last updated 12/02/2003