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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Kyle O'Sullivan

Princess Diana's 'plan' to move to US without Harry and William weeks before death

No one truly knows how life would have panned out for Princess Diana if she had not tragically died in a car crash - but some of her closest confidents believe she had plans to move to the US.

The People's Princess was much-loved by Americans, wowing them when she was a guest of Ronald Reagan along with Prince Charles in 1985 - and famously dancing with John Travolta at the White House.

There are differing accounts of who she wanted to go with, as some suggest she was leaving the country with boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed, while others say she was making a clean break alone.

But it seems to be unanimously agreed that any ideas of moving Stateside would not involve Princes William or Harry, because she would never be allowed to take them away from their royal duties.

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left Britain for Canada and then California, it was claimed they were "following in Princess Diana's footsteps" by her former butler, Paul Burrell.

Diana at the White House Gala Dinner in 1985 (Mirrorpix)
Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in 1985 (Getty Images)

In 2020, he told CBS News: "I remember she set out in her sitting room, the plans of a home in Malibu, California, the former home of Julie Andrews, and she said to me 'I'm buying this house and buying this house to give William and Harry a new perspective on life'."

The property was a Tuscan-style villa set on a five acre estate in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu, which had been bought by Dodi for $7.5m in June 1997.

According to Burrell, Diana loved that there was no class system or establishment and told him "nobody's judgemental here in America".

He also said he believed Diana would have approved of Harry's decision to move across the Pond, but would be sad to see her sons have fallen out.

"She would embrace Megan and Harry and tell them, 'Do your thing. Do what makes you happy'," he said.

After Charles and Diana split, she visited America much more frequently and became involved in Hollywood circles, but was not considering a career in acting.

Kevin Costner reportedly courted her for a starring role in a potential sequel to his 1992 blockbuster The Bodyguard.

"He rang up and said, 'How would you like to be in my next film?' She was rolling on the floor giggling, 'Sorry, I can't act'," Burrell told ABC News in 2003. "He said, 'Don't worry, I'll teach you'."

Prince Harry sticking his tongue out with mum Diana (Tim Graham Photo Library via Get)

Costner himself confirmed he had called Diana and made the offer, but he only obtained the draft of her script the day before her death.

"The studio liked the idea of doing a Bodyguard 2," Costner told People TV in 2012, saying Diana would play the same role as performed by Whitney Houston in the original.

"I just remember her being incredibly sweet on the phone, and she asked the question, she goes, 'Are we going to have like a kissing scene?' She said it in a very respectful way."

However, one close friend has claimed Diana's ambitions in America actually laid behind the cameras.

Confidante Stewart Pearce claimed the Princess wanted to make documentaries, much like her son Harry is now doing.

He insisted Diana planned to take sons William and Harry to the US as romance blossomed with Dodi, but becoming a leading lady was never in her mind.

"No, no, no," he said in September 2021. "That is something that Diana was not interested in. Not at all.

"I do remember her talking about the whimsey of the wonderful idea of Kevin stepping forward saying we would love to make a movie about you.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles with Ronald Reagan and his wife The First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

"She would have stayed behind the lens. I was very fortunate to attend a number of private parties where we went to theatres. She knew she was much better as a person behind the camera rather than in front of the camera."

Pearce learned of Diana's production plans during his years as her private voice and presence coach, and believed she planned on spending a lot of time in Hollywood.

It was not just her Royal fame that made her a natural fit for the arts world and Hollywood, as she forged a close friendship with Oscar-winning respected British film producer Lord David Puttnam, whose films included Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields.

He claims she was in conversation with her boyfriend Dodi about working in the TV and films, adding: "I do not know how serious Dodi was about fulfilling his practice as a producer. These were just possibilities being discussed.

"I don’t know who she was speaking to. But she asked me: ‘Do you think this is a good idea, and spoke about documentaries and about major movie features."

Asked if her work would have been Oscar or Emmy worthy, Pearce smirked: "I am sure it would have been very easy for her to gain accomplishments."

However, another trusted friend of Diana claimed she didn't love Dodi as her heart belonged to another man, so he was not part of her American plans.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles with their sons (UK Press via Getty Images)

Simone Simmons, Diana's trusted psychic and friend, told the Daily Star that the royal was in love with her ex, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

Simmons, who wrote a book titled 'Diana: The Last Word' about her time counselling the Princess, said Diana planned to ditch Dodi and move with Hasnat to the US.

In September 2021, she said: "She wanted to move to America or South Africa with Hasnat and was already over Dodi when she died – he was just there to try and make Hasnat jealous. He was just a playboy, not Diana's type at all.

"Diana viewed the actress Julie Andrews’ house in Los Angeles as a possible place to move but what she really wanted was for Hasnat to come with her.

"She was hounded by so many rumours and false stories about who she was sleeping with and the pressure of her fame was really getting to her."

One of Diana's former bodyguards said she told him about her US move just weeks before she died while she vacationed with Dodi and her sons on Mohammed Al-Fayed's luxury yacht in St Tropez.

In his memoir, Protecting Diana: A Bodyguard's Story, Lee Sansum recounted how the Princess was about to tell the paparazzi of her plans to move to America in an effort to protect William and Harry.

Diana and Dodi could have moved to the US together (Sipa/Shutterstock)

Sansum wrote: "Then she told me: 'I want to go to the US and live there so I can get away from it all. At least in America, they like me and will leave me alone.'"

The former bodyguard said he remembered asking Diana if her sons would be joining her, to which she explained she would never be allowed to take them from their royal duties.

If she moved, Diana reportedly said: "I will probably only be able to see them in the school holidays."

Sadly, any possible plans for Diana to move Stateside were ended on 31st August 1997 when she tragically died in a car crash in Paris.

In a eulogy delivered at her funeral service at Westminster Abbey, her brother Earl Charles Spencer promised to protect her sons and confirmed Diana had been considering moving from Britain.

"There is no doubt that she was looking for a new direction in her life at this time," he said.

"She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment that she received at the hands of the newspapers.

"I don't think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling."

Princess Diana was loved in America (Getty Images)

So what would her life in America have been like?

Diana flew to New York City for her first solo trip in February 1989 - hitting the headlines when she hugged a child who had Aids in Harlem.

And she shimmered in a white gown while attending a touring production of Falstaff, by the Welsh National Opera, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Karen Brooks Hopkins, the BAM official who now serves as its president emerita, was there when Diana dazzled New York City.

When asked if she would have found peace in America, Hopkins said: "It's very hard to tell because obviously, there was so much pressure and attention.

"The whole demise of her marriage was such a sad and and huge story. I don't know whether someone like that ever really escapes the limelight in a way that brings them peace."

She added: "But I do think that she would have been a great New Yorker."

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