Most Princess Diana fans know that after her troubled marriage with Prince Charles ended, she got involved in an intense, 2-year relationship with Pakistani doctor Hasnat Khan. Though her relationship with Hasnat ended in the summer of 1997 and she was involved with Dodi Al-Fayed at the time of the tragic car accident that claimed both their lives months later, it has often been written that Hasnat was actually “the love of her life.” But a new exclusive E! Online story shows that may not have been the case.
It’s certainly a romantic-sounding story, especially considering that Princess Diana had dubbed Hasnat Khan as “Mr. Wonderful” minutes after meeting him at the London hospital where he worked. Many of her friends described the relationship as a chance for Princess Diana to finally find comfort after the very public and tumultuous end of her relationship with Prince Charles.
via Getty Images
“She felt rejected and discarded and then along came this incredibly kind and compassionate man,” one close friend of hers revealed. “Unlike some of the people in her life who had sold her out to the press, Hasnat didn’t care about her fame. He was different and she knew she could rely on him.”
The couple went through extreme efforts to shield their relationship from the press, meeting secretly in the surgeon’s home or at the Kensington Palace. And by doing so, Hasnat was able to introduce the “People’s Princess” to a semblance of normalcy for the first time in a long time.
Hasnat himself once said, “Diana was also not used to doing everyday things that the rest of us take for granted. For example, we once went to the pub together and Diana asked if she could order the drinks because she had never done so before. She really enjoyed the experience and chatted away happily to the barman.”
via Getty Images
And people had reason to believe it might be serious. After all, Princess Diana actually introduced Hasnat Khan to Prince William and Prince Harry at one point. But as for Hasnat being the “love of her life,” some members of Diana’s inner circle have now spoken up in an exclusive interview with E! Online to say that’s not exactly true.
One friend said, “The truth is she didn’t want to be with Hasnat in the end. Diana is the one who actually decided they weren’t suited. It had nothing to do with religion or her fame. She didn’t think he would be the best person to help co-parent William and Harry.”
The friend continued, “Diana’s biggest fear was that one day she might lose the access she had to her children. She didn’t think Hasnat was a suitable father figure. He had his own issues and she didn’t want to give the royal family an excuse to find fault with whoever she chose to end up with. She just couldn’t risk it.”
via Getty Images
Another confidante who spoke to her in her last year of life said that meanwhile, Diana still regretted the end of her marriage to Prince Charles, despite his infidelity.
“Diana was devastated when it finally ended,” the confidante said. “Honestly, she was hurt beyond belief.”
Yet another friend with whom Princess Diana discussed these issues with said there was really no one around to give her guidance after she got married and entered the spotlight, which contributed to the downfall.
The friend said, “Diana and those closest to her didn’t understand what marrying Charles really entailed. His role was to the throne and no matter what, that had to come first.”
via Getty Images
The friend continued, “In her final years she came to the realization, if she had had the right people in her circle things might have been different. She really did love Charles, he was the father of her children, so who knows what might’ve happened if she’d had a different understanding of what she was taking on?”
Nearly 20 years after Princess Diana’s tragic death, we may never know the full story—or what could’ve happened if things had panned out differently—but her friends remain convinced that the man who really broke her heart was not Hasnat Khan, but Prince Charles.
h/t E! Online
NEXT: See photos from Princess Diana’s wedding that will make you feel like you were there below.
Diana Holding Clementine
The little girl in Diana's arms is Clementine Hambro, the youngest member of the bridal party. Clem was the princess's favorite student at the kindergarten where she worked as a teaching assistant.
Dianas Bridal Party
The best men were Charles's brothers, Edward (behind Charles) and Andrew (to Diana's right). Both were single at the time.
Diana Petting Pageboy
The bridal party included two godsons of Prince Charles. Here's Diana patting the youngest, then 8-year-old Edward van Cutsem. He's now a close friend to her sons, William and Harry.
Diana In Throne Room
Here is a behind-the-scenes shot of Diana and Charles in the throne room at Buckingham Palace.
Diana From Behind On Balcony
Another shot-from-behind look at the royal couple. This time they're on the balcony gazing at the crowds in front of the palace.
The ceremony was a typical Church of England affair, with one exception: Diana didn't promise to "obey," which caused quite a stir at the time.
The couple got many, many gifts. This is just part of the loot, given by foreign dignitaries.
And here's the cake--or at least one of them. There were 27 in total!
Diana Holding Clementine Wide
Here's another view of the royal family on their way to the reception. Breakfast was served to 120 guests.
Diana's dress cost about $45,000 (in today's dollars). The tiara she wore was a Spencer family heirloom and gave her a headache, her brother later told a British newspaper.
Princess Diana Wedding
One of the many formal portraits of the newlyweds. Here you can see Diana's 25-foot train in all its glory.
After the ceremony, the couple signed their names to the royal marriage license.