It's been nearly 16 years since Princess Diana died at age 36 in a car crash in Paris, but she's still very much in people's hearts, especially as her eldest son, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton, celebrate the birth of their first child. Prince George of Cambridge will never know his paternal grandmother, but she lives on in stories and pictures — like those found in the September issue of Vanity Fair, which features the late "People's Princess" on its cover.
The story inside the mag details Princess Diana's two-year relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, whom she dated from 1995 to 1997, just before her passing. (At the time of her death, Diana was linked to Dodi Al Fayed, but friends tell VF that Hasnat was the true love of her life.)
"Diana was madly in love with Hasnat Khan and wanted to marry him, even if that meant living in Pakistan," Jemima Khan, the former wife of Hasnat's distant cousin Imran Khan, tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison. "And that's one of the reasons we became friends."
She "came to visit me twice in Pakistan to help fundraise for Imran's hospital, but both times she also went to meet his family secretly to discuss the possibility of marriage to Hasnat," Jemima adds, noting that a marriage between the two would have been "every conservative Pashtun mother's worst nightmare."
"She wanted to know how hard it had been for me to adapt to life in Pakistan, and she wanted advice on how to deal with Pakistani men and their cultural baggage," Jemima explains.
Ultimately, though, it was Diana's baggage — namely, her global fame — that proved too difficult for the couple to overcome. According to Vanity Fair, Hasnat was reluctant to take their relationship public.
"Hasnat was a decent, intensely private man from a traditional, conservative Pakistani family, and he was worried about how it would work," Jemima tells Ellison. "And he hated the thought of being in the glare of publicity for the rest of his life."
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