Princess Diana’s tragic insight into royal life in devastating letter to pal

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Princess Diana pondered what she would do in her 30s in a tragic letter to a close friend.

The Princess of Wales wrote to Dudley Poplak to thank him for three drawings he had produced for her to mark her 30th birthday in July 1991 – a year before she separated from Prince Charles and six years before she was killed in a car crash in Paris.

The handwritten note has come to light as it goes on sale, expected to fetch about £600.

She wrote: “I do wonder what the next ten years will bring, the last ten I have learnt a great deal in an interesting way!”

Charles and Diana had a notoriously difficult marriage in which both are acknowledged to have had extra-marital affairs.

One life-lesson Diana may have been referring to was how, two years before she wrote the letter, she confronted Camilla Parker Bowles over her affair with Charles.

Her pondering of what the future might hold is all the more poignant as she died alongside her new-found love Dodi Fayed at the age of 36.

The letter, on Kensington Palace-headed notepaper, has emerged 29 years later after it was put up for public auction by a retired autograph and manuscripts dealer.

Alongside it is a separate note by her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, in which she wrote how her son Charles Spencer ‘took on the world’ in his famous eulogy to his sister at her funeral at Westminster Abbey.

The items are being sold by David Lay Auctioneers of Penzance, Cornwall, for an estimated £600.

The Diana letter is dated June 27, 1991, four days before her 30th birthday.

It is not clear what the drawings Mr Poplak gave to Diana were but they appeared to be relevant to the whole Spencer family.

She confessed that she had already opened them before the big day.

She added: “Since when have I be (sic) able to keep a present for the right day & I’m afraid your three wonderful drawings were no exception!”

She then made a joke at the expense of her stepmother Raine Spencer who it seems had a reputation for selling family items.

Diana said: “I am deeply touched to be given something that means such a lot to our family & that Raine hasn’t put under auction!”

The Princess went on the add the touching line about her future.

She wrote: “I do wonder what the next ten years will bring, the last ten I have learnt a great deal in an interesting way!”

The note from Frances Shand Kydd was written four months after Diana’s death.

The late Mrs Shand Kydd was writing after she had delivered her own speech at a memorial mass for Diana at St Columba’s Cathedral in Oban in Scotland, where she lived.

She admitted that she was ‘seared rigid’ with nerves before her delivery but added ‘…since my children had taken on the world in the Abbey I really thought their mum should be able to do her home pitch!’

Mimo Connell Lay, of David Lay Auctioneers, said: “These two items are from a retired dealer who is selling some of his most treasured items that he has kept for years.

“The letter from Diana is quite short but the content is strong.

“The line where she contemplates the past decade during which she she got married, became a mother and her marriage broke down, and what the future holds for her is very poignant.”

Charles and Diana met interior designer Mr Poplak in 1981 when he was called upon by her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, to work on Highgrove House, the Gloucestershire home of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Diana remained firm friends with him and the pair exchanged numerous letters.

Mr Poplak died aged 74 in 2005.

The letter and the note are being sold on July 30.

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