Princess Diana’s Secret Trip to Paris with Friends

In our last post, we dove into Ken Wharfe’s account of his time with Diana in his book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret and how she took a secret trip to Italy that included a midnight tour of Venice. Click here if you missed it or would like a refresher. Among many other illuminating insights (the book is truly worth a read!), the book reveals another undercover trip – a jaunt to Paris in May 1993.

Such a great read! (source)
Such a great read! (source)

Diana had travelled to Paris on a solo visit the year prior, in November 1992 (with her sister Sarah as a Lady in Waiting), and now she wanted to go on an easy, quiet trip with friends during which she hoped she wouldn’t attract any attention from the media.

Princess Diana and Ken Wharfe in Paris 1992 (source)
Princess Diana and Ken Wharfe in Paris during her public 1992 visit (source)

Here’s Lady Sara with the Princess on that official trip (feel free to check out our post on Ladies in Waiting here if you’re in the mood (when you see that post, you’ll notice that it appears that Diana and Sarah wore the same outfits for engagements in 1992 and 1994, just with different accessories).

Diana and her sister Sara (source)
Diana and her sister Sarah in Paris (source)

In a bid “to be normal” she asked Ken Wharfe to arrange the security needed for the private trip. She and two friends, Lady Palumbo and Lucia Flecha de Lima, decided to take the trip together. They flew to Paris on a private jet Lady Palumbo had access to and stayed at the Palumbo’s Parisian home, both of which helped them achieve this undercover trip. Here is his account of the trip.

I had arranged the hire of a plain Renault Espace people carrier at Le Bourget airport, and in that we headed straight for Paris’ high-fashion quarter, where Lady Palumbo had arranged for Diana to have a private viewing at Chanel…before we went on to some other boutiques in the area…their purchases included an Hermes tie for me!…and we then headed to the Palmbo’s award winning house in the exclusive district of Neuilly, close to the Bois de Boulogne, where we were to stay.

So far, no one had any idea we were there, and I had taken the decision not to ask for help from local police this time for fear of leaks to the press. Next day…she was almost skipping along as we approach the chic Marius et Jeanette restaurant.

Diana's restaurant of choice in Paris for lunch with friends (source)
Diana’s restaurant of choice in Paris for lunch with friends (source)

As I followed our party in, my heart sank. There, sitting on his scooter outside the restaurant was one man and his lens- Jean-Paul Dousset, who at that time worked with the notorious paparazzo Daniel Angelli. The year before, they had together exposed the Duchess of York’s love affair with John Brian with those infamous toe-sucking photographs….Luckily Diana didn’t spot him and so remained oblivious to the fact that we had been found out. Then I realized that we hadn’t. For in the corner of the restaurant sat the actor Gerard Depardieu, one of France’s most celebrated sex symbols, and the reason why Dousset had been waiting outside…

Princess Diana had met Gerard Depardieu the previous year in October 1992 at the Royal Premier of '1492' at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London (Getty Images)
Princess Diana had met Gerard Depardieu the previous year in October 1992 at the Royal Premier of ‘1492’ at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London (Getty Images)

Depardieu recognized the Princess at once, and like the perfect French gentleman he is, came over immediately to stand by her table, talking of her great beauty and what a privilege it was for France, for Paris and for him personally that he could be there. She was putty in his hands. And we were all putty in the hands of the freelance photographer outside, who must already have been working out exactly how much he was going to make by selling a set of pictures….I decided to act immediately…knowing that he was not a [security] threat, I offered him a deal. If he kept a discreet distance so that the Princess did not know he was watching her, I would not interfere with his job. In return, he would not release the pictures until we were safely out of France, so that she would not be mobbed and thus have her short break ruined, and her security put at increased risk. He agreed, and was as good as his word. For the rest of the day Jean-Paul trailed us, but always at a distance and never too close to alert the Princess. True to our deal, he dispatched his pictures only after we had left Paris…

Through my secret deal- for I never told the princess – I had kept the number of paparazzi to the smallest number possible -one- and Diana was able to enjoy a trouble-free break. 

These are some of those photos. They show the Princess out and about enjoying the sights, including outside of Notre Dame Cathedral. Ken Wharfe can be spotted in both set of photographs. You can see him to the left of the Princess in the long photograph below – perhaps they were picking up some wine or, if it were me, snacks for the flight home!

Out and About in Paris May 1, 1993 (source)
Out and About in Paris May 1, 1993 (source)

Ken Wharfe is also pictured standing behind the Princess in the top left photograph and to the right of the Princess in the middle photograph on the bottom below. Note that the Princess isn’t wearing any sort of disguise and yet she was able to walk around with ease. She also appears to be carrying a quilted black leather Chanel bag; I wonder if she had just bought it in the boutique the day before.

The sightseeing princess, chic in black & white (source)

Unfortunately, Wharfe resigned from his post later that year when he felt that for a number of reasons related to his relationship with the Princess he was no longer able to do his job effectively. To his credit, in my opinion he doesn’t sound bitter or vindictive; he comes across as evenhanded and excellent at his job. I highly Diana: Closely Guarded Secretsuggest picking up the book to have a good read yourself – you might just find yourself still reading in the early hours of the morning like I was.


The Walk to Church at Sandringham on Christmas Day ~ Diana

In the lead up to Christmas Day, we’ve had a fun, frivolous time reviewing the “walk to church” sartorial choices of various Royal Ladies. Our list certainly wouldn’t be complete without a discussion on Diana’s Christmas outfits!

Let’s start at the beginning.


Here’s a picture of Diana celebrating her first Christmas as a member of the royal family.  At this time, She had apready announced that she was pregnant. Very cute blue coat!


Christmas was celebrated at Windsor Castle this year. Here is Diana, resplendent in pink (we do love pink at Christmas, we have to say) with Prince Charles after the Christmas Day service at St George’s Chapel. If you happen to shed some light on why Christmas was celebrated at Windsor that year, we’d love to hear it!


It looks like it was a white Christmas at Sandringham this year! Diana looks very Princess-Christmas-Day-Perfect in her red coat and black fur muff. You really have to have a certain panache to pull off a fur muff. That’s a wee Zara in the red cap in the bottom picture.


And we’re back in Windsor for Christmas this year. Fergie’s red coat and white hat are very festive. Diana is in a coat by Escada and hat by Philip Somerville. She also wore this outfit on an official visit to Berlin that year.

Here’s a pic of Diana in the coat in November of 1987 in Berlin. Not looking particularly thrilled:


Diana and Fergie were in blue this year. I can imagine they would have had a lot of laughs together over Christmas. Must have been nice for Diana to have had a friend at these events.

And we just had to thrown in this picture of we William and Zara walking together. So cute!


Diana is in a lovely purple/blue suit and hat. Not exactly Christmassy (we think this would work better at Easter), but there you go.  We think this may be Bruce Oldfield but are not sure! If you know, please tell us in the comments.


A windy walk to church in 1990. Again in purple, and again not very Christmassy, but maybe she wasn’t on the festive spirit this year.


Diana and Charles had officially separated in 1992. However, Diana was still invited to Christmas. Here she is in a very festive red and black number. It looks like a foggy day. Here’s a video of Diana and the rest of the gang arriving at church on Youtube.


This was Diana’s last Christmas with the royal family at Sandringham. She looks very cozy in this hat and coat. Nice to see William and Harry as well. William still does this hand clasping gesture! And here’s another video of the family arriving at church on Christmas Day in 1994.

Royal Homes: The Sandringham Estate

Let’s take a look at one of the British Royal Family’s private homes, Sandringham.

The royal Sandringham estate is privately owned by the Royal family and consists of 20,000 acres. So, if the UK ever becomes a republic, this is one of the properties that they will still have in their personal holdings.

It was purchased in 1862 by Queen Victoria as a home for her son the Prince of Wales who had the original hall torn down and rebuilt in 1870 into the structure that sits on the site today.

Since the time of Queen Victoria, the House has been used as a private country retreat and home for the family. The Queen has a strong attachment to the estate and spends much of the winter there. Since the Queen’s father, King George VI, died in 1952 at Sandringham, she has spent the anniversary of his death with her family at the House. It is her official base until February.

Park House, Sandringham

Interestingly, Lady Diana Spencer spend her early years on the estate. Her father, then Viscount Spencer, rented Park House and Diana’s mother, Frances Ruth Roche was actually born at Park House in 1936. Her father was Edmund Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy, and her mother Ruth, Lady Fermoy was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).

Park House, on the Sandringham Estate

Park House was originally built for overflow guests from the Royal Sandringham House. The grounds had an outdoor pool and a tennis court.

When speaking to Andrew Morton for Diana Her True Story, Diana remembered, “We were all shunted over to Sandringham for holidays. Used to go and see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the film. We hated it so much. We hated going over there. The atmosphere was always very strange when we went there and I used to kick and fight anyone who tried to make us go over there and Daddy was most insistent because it was rude. I said I didn’t want to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the third year running.”

Here is a famous picture of Diana in the Park House pool at Sandringham as a child. Love it:

Diana Spencer, Park House
Diana and Charles Spencer, Park House

Park House is now Park House Hotel and is equipped for disabled people. Read more here.

Activities at Sandringham

The Sandringham estate offers the royal family the opportunity to take part in many of the outdoor sports they enjoy – horse riding, walking and pheasant shooting. Because the public can access much of the walking grounds, we sometimes get glimpses of the royals at play:

Kate Middleton at a Sandringham Shoot
Prince Charles riding at Sandringham
The Queen and her dogs at Sandringham
The Royal Family at a Peasant Shoot, Sandringham

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene

Another significant structure on the estate is the parish church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Princess Eugenie’s Christening took place here on December 23rd, 1990 (click here to read our post on Royal Christenings) during the morning church service (she is  the only royal granchild to not have had a private christening ceremony, as members of the public could have attended this service).

On August 30, 1961, Eugenie’s aunt, The Hon. Diana Spencer, was christened there as well.

Diana Spencer

Each Christmas Day, the Royal family walks to the church for the 11am service. In December we will be posting a series on this (Royal Christmas Day Fashion and Hats), so stay tuned!