Did Diana have affair with Valery Giscard D’Estaing?
The former French president alludes to a romantic entanglement with the late princess in his new novel
Did Diana, Princess of Wales, have an affair with a former French president in the 1980s? A new novel written by Valery Giscard d'Estaing, president of France from 1974 to 1981, certainly suggests he'd have liked to have seen more of the young princess.
D'Estaing, now aged 83, has been carving out a new career as a romantic author - and his latest offering recounts the tale of a passionate love affair between two characters quite clearly based on himself and Diana.
The novel, entitled The Princess and the President, is published next week and commentators are speculating whether it indicates that there was more to the relationship between d'Estaing and Diana, who died 12 years ago, than meets the eye.
On the other hand it could simply be the nostalgic imaginings of the accordion-loving former president, who left office the year Diana and Charles married, but met her at charity events in the 1980s.
In the book the dashing French president - one Jacques-Henri Lambertye - embarks on a whirlwind romance with the beautiful young princess - Patricia of Cardiff - who is being cheated on by her princely husband and has thrown herself into charity work.
The pair meet at a G7 dinner at Buckingham Palace where the Frenchman - attuned as ever to the female psyche - feels her pain and seduces her. They begin a relationship, stealing tender moments together in Kensington and at the Chateau de Sucy – where another former French leader, Francois Mitterrand, met his mistress.
D'Estaing himself is said to be no stranger to such liaisons. While he was president his unmarked car collided with a milk truck at dawn. It was widely assumed he was returning from a tryst with a mistress – and his opinion poll ratings went up.
In the book the couple's affair comes to an end when the British press get wind of it. The Morning Telegraph blows their cover with the explosive headline: 'The Princess of Cardiff spent the night at the French president's castle'.
But there is yet another twist - in the dramatic finale the British Queen and her son, the Prince of Cardiff, die in a plane crash, leaving the Princess as regent and her eldest son, James, heir to the throne.
The French president then revives a plan to merge the UK and France and, unlike d'Estaing, wins a second term in office.
As Le Figaro, the first paper to preview the work, ponders: "Total fiction, writer's dream, true story? Only the author has the key to this enigma."