New Film Bio Focuses on Romance Between Princess Diana and Dr. Hasnat Khan, Her “Mr. Wonderful,” Coming in September 2013
The film centers on the final years of Diana’s life and her post-divorce romance with Khan, who was reluctant to trade his anonymity for the fame (and relentless media coverage) that came with being involved with the most famous woman in the world.
It will have its world premiere in London on September 5, and then will be released worldwide by September 20.
I have mixed feelings about the casting of Naomi Watts as the late princess. I’ve seen her in other roles, and she’s very good. However, she doesn’t look a thing like Diana, and her assumption of the woman’s mannerisms seems forced and mechanical, even from this very short trailer. What was endearing with Diana goes down with a dull thud with Watts. More of a revelation may be the casting of Naveen Andrews as the surgeon who fell in love with a princess, and she with him. Diana was also a white English princess, and probably the most famous—woman in the world.
The depiction of Dodi al Fayed, however, may promise to be a comedown for romantics, although he was probably most able to
give buy her the peace, protection and privacy she desperately wanted, if not the intimacy that she craved, but could not receive from Dr. Khan. The al-Fayeds were friends of the princess’ late father, Earl Spencer, so it was fairly easy for Dodi to move into her orbit. I’m of the school, however, that is convinced that Diana did not want to marry al-Fayed—no matter what his grief-crazed father, the acquisitive owner of Harrods Department Store, believed about possible conspiracies. The relationship was a comfortable respite, even a rebound relationship, but Diana may have already seen its limitations no matter how much jewelry she was presented. Khan was the one for her; he was the love of her life.
That Diana’s last major relationships were with a British Pakistani Muslim and an Egyptian Muslim—both brown men—is something else to ponder. I don’t think Diana was looking for something exotic. I think she was looking for anyone who would love and protect her, and it appears that no one of her own class was willing to take her up and keep her. Not James Hewitt (who is a bit of a mess these days) and who has retired, at last report, to Marbella, Spain. Not James Gilbey, who affectionately called her Squidgy. Not Oliver Hoare, the art dealer who was already married.
The Royal Family has not participated in the making of this film biography, and has not yet made any statements regarding it. While Diana, Princess of Wales remains a popular figure among many commoners, she is still a controversial figure in the Establishment as well as among the older royals.
Dr. Hasnat Khan finally married in 2006 to a distant cousin and a descendant of Afghan royalty, Hadia Sher Ali, in an arranged marriage. (His two previous engagements had also been arranged by his family, but he was gun-shy.) Unfortunately, it did not last, ending nearly two years later. Khan is now 54 years old and has no children. A workaholic heart and lung surgeon, Khan has never spoken about the depth of his feelings for the princess, although plenty of print has been expended on how she felt about Khan, whom she called “Mr. Wonderful.”
Today, Khan remains a very private man who was convinced that if he married Diana, his life would turned into pure hell because of the media pressure. He would be reduced to mere arm-candy to his wife, and his skills, practice and vocation would founder. His mother reportedly wasn’t so hot for the idea either, although his father was said to have genuinely liked her. Some of Diana’s friends believe that her relationship with Dodi al Fayed was really aimed at Khan to make him jealous and to get him back.
Some of her friends, such as Simmons and Rosa Monckton, then head of Tiffany & Co, the jewellers, believe that her subsequent courtship of Dodi was a deliberate move to make Khan jealous and encourage him to change his mind about living in Pakistan.
And yet his life seems haunted by the princess’ premature death. The Daily Mail hinted in a 2007 story during the inquest into Diana’s death that Khan felt guilty over the princess’ death in Paris, although he had long gotten over the end of the affair. “He no longer loved her but the shock was immense because, a friend explains: ‘He felt responsible for her death because, but for him, she wouldn’t have been with Dodi in the first place.'”
I would not doubt that in the wee, wee hours of some mornings, even as he possesses what he has wanted, the Prince of Wales probably feels the same way. In effect, she made his life possible, even the lives of their sons. That’s the kind of guilt no one can assuage.
In September 1997, Hasnat Khan quietly attended Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey, invited by Paul Burrell, Diana’s trusted butler and keeper of her secrets. it was also Burrell who would hand-deliver to the surgeon Diana’s love notes at his home or at his hospital office.
This film may not answer all questions regarding Diana and the love of her life, giving off more light than heat on the subjects. It certainly promises to be interesting, nonetheless.
- Diana Trailer Gives a Glimpse of Her Doomed Love Affair (people.com)
- ‘Diana’ Trailer: A Princess In Love, As The World Watches (cwsanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- Full trailer released for Diana film (hellomagazine.com)
- Vanity Fair: ‘Princess Diana was ‘madly in love’ with Hasnat Khan and ready to move to Pakistan’ (thenewstribe.com)
- Jemima Khan: Diana wanted to marry Hasnat Khan (hellomagazine.com)
- Diana: Her final obsession (nzherald.co.nz)