This film tells a story that is largely unknown to the public. After Princess Diana and Prince Charles of England divorced, it was well known that Diana had an affair with Dodi Fayed, the son of a billionaire who owned Harrod’s Department Store in London. Diana and Dodi died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Diana, Princess of Wales - Wikimedia
However, prior to her meeting Dodi Fayed, Diana had a two-year relationship, from 1995-1997, with a Pakistani heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan, who appears to have been her true love. The romance did garner some publicity, but the couple attempted to keep their relationship secret from the public because of Hasnat Khan’s career as a successful heart surgeon who needed privacy from the paparazzi to conduct his affairs.
In speaking of her divorce from Prince Charles in an interview on the BBC, Diana stated that she was ashamed that she could not cope with the pressures of her position as Prince Charles’ wife. She said that there were “three of us” in the marriage, referring to Charles’ long-time friendship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Diana first met Hasnat Khan at the Royal Brompton Hospital when she was visiting a friend who was recovering from heart surgery performed by Dr. Khan. Diana had been officially separated from Charles since 1992, and by the time she met Hasnat Khan, she was living alone in Kensington Palace. She was impressed with him because he was completely and totally selfless. She said she had never met anybody like him.
Naomi Watts - Wikimedia
An Invitation to Dinner
Diana went out running in the morning and went to the spa. She took excellent care of her health. She began visiting her friend in the hospital every day even though Dr. Khan had just given her a slight nod when they first met. She decided to invite him to dinner at Kensington Palace. He smoked all of the time and seemed not to care for his dinner. He asked if she could make him a hamburger, so she sent out for a hamburger for him, which he enjoyed. Diana was happy because Hasnat did not treat her like a princess.
A Romance Begins
Diana put on a dark wig and visited Hasmat at his home in Chelsea. She learned that he liked jazz, so they began to go in disguise to Ronnie Scott’s to listen to jazz. He sometimes brought takeout to Kensington Palace. One evening, she brought him back to the Palace by having him crouch down in the back seat. The guards knew exactly what she had done, and who was in the back seat. At one point, she dressed in scrubs and accompanied Hasnat into the operating room to watch him at work, all under the unaware eyes of the paparazzi.
Hasnat quoted to her a poem he loved written by the poet Rumi in the 13th century. The poem was “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.”
Camilla Parker Bowles - Wikimedia
Diana, the Humanitarian
One year later, Diana visited the country of Angola. She was concerned about the land mines and sought to stop companies from manufacturing them. She was making for herself a new life, evolving into a global humanitarian.
Diana Denies Their Relationship
In spite of all their precautions, the newspapers one morning had a story entitled “Pakistani Doctor has Diana’s heart.” Hasnat was even more disturbed when she publicly called the article “rubbish.” To have Diana deny their relationship hurt him deeply, and it strengthened his conviction that any sort of normal life with Diana would be impossible. He said to her “I am a surgeon; I cannot work with the paparazzi up in my face. There’s no future in it.” Her efforts to contact him by phone were worthless. She went to his home when he was at the hospital and cleaned his messy house, and washed his clothes and put them away.
Diana Meets Hasnat’s Family
Hasnat was grateful for what she had done, and they made up. He told her if she wanted to make this work, it was time for her to meet his family. She preferred to go alone. She wore a traditional Muslim outfit to Pakistan out of respect for their faith. Hasnat’s mother was initially cool to Diana but later apologized for remarks she made about the British. Diana told Hasnat that the visit was magical. It was Hasnat’s feeling that a marriage between them would only work if they went to live in Pakistan, because the paparazzi did not pester people there.
On a trip to Rimini, Italy, where she and Dr. Christian Barnard were scheduled to receive a humanitarian award, she was happy to meet the world-famous surgeon who had performed the first human heart transplant in 1967. She explained to Dr. Barnard that she was in love with a heart surgeon who studied under Dr. Victor Chang. He understood that she wanted him to find a job for Hasnat Khan.
Dodi Fayed - Wikimedia
Hasnat Receives a Job Offer
Shortly thereafter, Hasnat received an offer for a position in Boston, Massachusetts for which he had not applied. When he learned that Diana had spoken for him to Dr. Barnard, he was enraged. After she left, he sought her out and said “I can’t seem to live without you. I know you were just trying to find a way. I’m so sorry.”
Hasnat’s Mother Won’t Accept Diana
Hasnat’s sister admitted to him that their mother would not accept Diana because she was a divorced woman and a Christian. She said to her brother “You are a private person. Can you work in the public eye?” Hasnat came to Diana and said “If it were just one thing, I know we could find a way. If I marry you, I have to marry the whole world as well. I’d be giving up the very thing that defines me.” Diana answered him “I’ll say it. It’s over. Don’t follow me.”
Diana Meets Dodi Fayed
Diana soon met Dodi Fayed who was engaged at the time to American model Kelly Fisher. He and Diana soon became an item talked about in the daily papers. It appeared to be a ploy on Diana’s part to make Hasnat jealous because she was still in love with him.
About this time, Diana made a trip to Christie’s in New York City to auction off the wardrobe she had when she was married to Prince Charles. She raised $3.25 million for her favorite charities and was able to further shed some of her royal baggage.
The paparazzi followed Diana and Dodi wherever they went, to Sardinia, to Bosnia, and to Paris. When they were in Paris, Diana made a call to Hasnat, pleading with him to call her. She did not hear from him. Hasnat was awakened by a friend at 4:17 a.m. when he learned that Diana had died.
Diana and Dodi Memorial in Harrod's Wikimedia
Negative Views of the Film
First off, I had a difficult time picturing Naomi Watts as Princess Diana. She neither looks much like her, nor does she convey the sweet charm for which Diana is noted. Nor did the script aid her in her portrayal of the most famous woman in the world at that time. Another jarring thought was the presentation of Diana as a woman more concerned with herself and her activities than with the care of her two young sons at that time. The young princes were mentioned only twice in the entire film, and were shown just once as they boarded a plane after spending some time with their mother. Diana made reference to the fact that she only saw the boys every five weeks. The real Diana was much more involved with her sons than was portrayed in this debacle.
Although the film revealed information that is not well known, the details of the secret romance are presented in a tawdry way, which seriously tarnishes the reputation of “the most famous woman in the world.”