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.


One of Our Favourite Diana Looks – Sweatshirts and Baseball Caps

One of the looks Diana favoured over the years was her off-duty wear: a sweatshirt (often with the logo of one of her favourite charities), a baseball cap (often with military associations), some jeans, and, on a good day, this was all topped off with a pair of boots.

It may look dated now (Princess Diana wore Mom Jeans!), but we still looove this look.  It’s such a wonderful contrast to the tailored, stiff outfits we usually saw her in and she looks so relaxed and comfy.

She would wear this to polo, at Highgrove, or the school run. Do we spy a wee Harry below running up the steps?

This picture was taken in the later years and Diana’s got her serious “I’m not in the mood to have my picture taken” look on:

This is an all time favourite, right here. The sly “I know you’re taking my picture and I look cute and fabulous” look is priceless. And she does look cute and fabulous! Even though the outfit, when you think about it, is pretty crazy…What kind of pants are those?? And wow, she sure had a lot of boots in her closet!

Camilla IS the Princess of Wales

No matter how you cut it, that’s how it is. Prince Charles has several titles, and as his wife Camilla has the ‘matching’ titles, just like when Jane Doe marries Michael Smith she becomes Mrs. Michael Smith even if she prefers to go by “Ms. Doe.” Technically, both are accurate.

That being said, let’s take a look at Charle’s royal titles, shall we?

When the Queen ascended the throne in 1952, a three year old Prince Charles became the heir apparent and as such took on the following traditional titles:

  • Duke of Cornwall
  • Duke of Rothesay
  • Earl of Carrick
  • Baron Renfrew
  • Lord of the Isles
  • Prince and Great Steward of Scotland

That is quite a mouthful. At the age of nine (!) the Queen created Prince Charles:

  • Prince of Wales
  • Earl of Chester

So that’s eight significant titles for a nine year old. Not too shabby. Charles was officially invested as the Princes of Wales in a ceremony on July 1, 1969 when he was twenty years old. In 1981 when Diana married Charles, she held all of the titles as well and became:

  • Duchess of Cornwall
  • Duchess of Rothesay
  • Countess of Carrick
  • Baroness Renfrew
  • Lady of the Isles
  • Princess and Great Stewardess of Scotland
  • Princess of Waless
  • Countess of Chester

As we know, Diana  was officially known as the highest rank, which of course was Princess of Wales.

So when Charles and Camilla married in 2005, Camilla automatically held all of these titles as well. It was decided that she would not to officially be known as Princess of Wales out of courtesy and respect for Diana’s memory. This was also of course to avoid the likely public outcry that would have ensued if she had.

The Prince of Wales’ official website says: “It is intended that The Duchess of Cornwall should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.”

Interesting wording. The statement only says “intended” not “it has been decided” or something equally strong and definitive. I am sure that Charles would actually like Camilla to be Queen and this sort of messaging is part of the carefully planned strategy surrounding Camilla. They are carefully testing the waters of public opinion and I’m certain that as time goes on, sentiment towards Camilla will continue to that and it is very likely that Camilla will be Queen after all.

Recently, when asked by a reporter if Camilla could be crowned Queen, Charles was quite flustered and replied, “That’s…that’s…we’ll see, won’t we? That could be.”

And there you have it. Not much of a denial there at all, is there? I have to say I can’t find fault with Charles’ answer. After all, when he becomes King, Camilla will atleast be Queen in all but name as she supports him in his royal duties. I feel that the public should take their queue from Princes William and Harry.  On the occasion of an official interview to mark his 21st birthday, Harry said, “William and I love her to bits. To be honest with you, she’s always been very close to me and William…she’s not the wicked stepmother. I’ll say that right now.”

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments!