A series of letters have revealed the surprising friendship between Princess Diana and an Irish nun, providing a fascinating insight into the life of one of the 20th century’s most iconic international figures. The friendship between Diana and Sr Teresa, of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, was not widely known to the public.
However, letters and a Christmas card that were sent by Diana from Kensington Palace are among the correspondence that has come to light when the letters were sold at auction in 2016.
Sr Teresa was based in the order’s convent in Wrexham, North Wales at the time. She and Diana met through a common friend – the mother of a palace butler. Their correspondence began in 1992. It was a year that Diana was under an immense amount of stress, with the British media seemingly following her every move as her marriage to Prince Charles broke down.
Diana’s father, the 8th Earl Spencer, died in March 1992, which prompted Sr Teresa to write to the princess.
Diana replied with a typed letter that expressed her gratitude for the sympathy that Sr Teresa had shown. The letter ended with a hand signed message ‘with my love, from Diana’.
Later in the year, Diana’s marriage came under intense scrutiny as the British tabloids published transcripts of intimate conversations between Diana and an alleged lover. Elsewhere, transcripts of conversations between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles were also published.
During this time, Princess Diana received support from Sr Teresa and wrote to her again in November 1992. This time she thanked the nun for her ‘prayers, comfort and most importantly care’. Diana said that she was ‘deeply touched’ by Sr Teresa’s letters and had the ‘deepest admiration for the wonderful work’ that she was doing.
In December that year, British Prime Minister John Major announced that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were separating. Diana sent a Christmas card to Sr Teresa with a photograph of her young sons Princes William and Harry, which she hand signed ‘with much love from Diana’.
Sr Teresa is now retired and returned home to live in Ireland. She does not want to discuss her friendship with the princess and gave the letters and card to a relative.
The relative sold the letters to a private collector ‘because of concerns about what might happen to them long-term.’
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling