Diana's letters go under the hammer

FROM dancing like an elephant to frantically counting down the days to her wedding they show a rare insight into the life of one of the 20th century's most photographed and loved women - Diana, Princess of Wales.

Annie Davidson

FROM dancing like an elephant to frantically counting down the days to her wedding they show a rare insight into the life of one of the 20th century's most photographed and loved women - Diana, Princess of Wales.

And yesterday the four letters to her former nanny raised £21,100 at a Colchester auction - treble the asking price.

The previously unseen letters were sent by Diana to Mary Clarke, who now lives in Fleggburgh, near Yarmouth, and show that the pair's close bond remained long after they went their separate ways.

It was estimated that the four letters would raise about £7,300 at yesterday's sale of 75 royal lots at Colchester-based auctioneers Reeman Dansie.

After the £21,100 auction Ms Clarke, 58, said: “Although the letters have gone from my possession, the very fond memories of my precious time with Diana will continue to live on.

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“I am just pleased that people have been able to gain an insight into her life - from being a girl around town to a princess.”

A phone bidder from Switzerland paid £9,200 for a letter in which 17-year-old Diana wrote: “My love of my life is dancing, things like tap, modern, ballet and jazz.

“Also I love singing, even though my voice sounds awful and watching me dance is like watching an elephant.”

A letter thanking Ms Clarke for sending Diana and her fiancé an engagement card fetched £1,700.

It was bought by Nigel Cornwell, of Hatfield Peverel, a company director who began collecting royal memorabilia three years ago.

He said: “It is just an interest of mine and I will be keeping the letter for my own collection. It is such a personal piece of history.”

Ms Clarke was 21 when she applied to be Diana's and her brother Charles' nanny and she held the post for two years.

Another letter written four weeks before her wedding at St Paul's Cathedral in 1981, went for £2,200 and shows that Diana was getting bored of waiting to go down the aisle with Prince Charles.

It reads: “Not to long to go now and about time too! Six months of being engaged is quite something and definitely to be avoided. All the family are in complete over drive and a lot of non speak going on - !!”

The last lot, containing a letter from January 1982 in which Diana mentioned feeling ill during her pregnancy with Prince William, raised £8,000.

In the correspondence the then Princess of Wales also referred to a trip to her family home with her husband.

“I took him to Althorp for the weekend which was alright, except that in our short stay we managed to break two Stuart chairs and a glass window,” she said.

Diana continued to write to her former nanny until five years before her death in Paris in 1997.

Ms Clarke, a keen horse rider, has another six personal letters from Diana and despite being offered a blank cheque for them she has said she will keep them locked in her bank vault forever.

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