Princess Diana's letters to Queen Mother burned by senior royal - the surprising reason behind 'horrifying' decision

Princess Diana's letters to the Queen Mother are reportedly among 'decades' worth of personal letters intentionally turned to ash

 The Queen Mother (L) and Diana, Princess of Wales arrive at second day of Royal Ascot in an open carriage on June 20 1990 in Ascot, England.
(Image credit: Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

Princess Diana's letters to the Queen Mother were burned by Princess Margaret but one royal expert says that this isn't unusual with personal letters between Royal Family members.


Of all the Princess Margaret facts, despite never being officially confirmed, it's often reported that her relationship with the late Princess of Wales was somewhat fraught. So the fact that it's been claimed that Princess Margaret took a match to, “hundreds, maybe thousands,” of missives, including Princess Diana's letters - could raise a few eyebrows.

Shady as this may appear Gareth Russell, author of Do Let’s Have Another Drink (opens in new tab): The Singular Wit and Double Measures of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, claims it's not unusual in aristocratic circles. Actually, despite the 'decade's worth' of letters that could have provided 'so much truth' being eradicated, the author and historian says it was standard practice for the aristocratic elite of the time. Though some loyalists of the late Princess of Wales may find it hard to believe that burning Princess Diana's letters wasn't personal - it probably wasn't.

Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) wait at Victoria Station in London for the arrival of Italian President Francesco Cossiga on a State Visit, October 1990. Diana is wearing a green suit by Moschino.

(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

“A lot of them burnt a lot of letters," explained Gareth, "so for instance, Elizabeth II’s grandmother, Alexandra of Denmark, who was our Queen Consort from 1901 to 1910, had a completely unremarkable private life, nothing scandalous. But she burned the letters."

He added, "aristocrats did that because they felt that letters sent privately shouldn't ever be public - it was a breaking of a code almost. So I think the Queen Mother was fully on board with Margaret doing it.”

More shocking still is the fact that the host of the podcast, Los Angeles-based royal commentator Kinsey Schofield, added another close family member set important letters aflame. According to Kinsey, Princess Diana's mother Frances Shand Kydd went to Kensington Palace after her daughter's death and burned all of her private letters.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, Trooping the Colour, 13th June 1992.

(Image credit: John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

The podcast host said, “I read that and I remember being horrified. There's so much information, there's so much truth that has just been destroyed. We would have so many answers.”

It's known, of course, that the late Princesses took up residence in the same royal residence in their lifetimes, and that they both had personal lives which may have broken royal protocol. It's even been reported that Princess Diana used Princess Margaret’s 'secret path' to hide lovers at Kensington Palace.

Turns out that despite the pair's reportedly frayed relationship - the Queen's late sister and her former niece-in-law may have had a lot more in common than they thought.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.