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Diana: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews
based on the book "Diana: Her Last Love" by Kate Snell

Naomi Watts
Born: September 28, 1968
Shoreham, Kent, England, UK
Princess Diana
Born: July 1, 1961
Birthplace: Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England, UK
Death: August 31, 1997, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France (automobile accident)
Naveen Andrews
Born: January 17, 1969
London, England, UK
Dr. Hasnat Khan
Born: April 1, 1959
Birthplace: Jhelum, Pakistan
Cas Anvar
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Dodi Fayed
Born: April 15, 1955
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Death: August 31, 1997, Pont de l'Alma, Paris, France (automobile accident)
Douglas Hodge
Born: February 25, 1960
Plymouth, Devon, England, UK
Paul Burrell
Born: June 6, 1958
Birthplace: Grassmoor, Derbyshire, England, UK
(Princess Diana's butler)
[The movie] is based on gossip and Diana's friends' talking about a relationship that they didn't know much about, and some of my relatives who didn't know much about it, either. It is all based on hypotheses and gossip. -Dr. Hasnat Khan (The Mail, August 25, 2013)

Questioning the Story:

What lengths did the filmmakers go to in order to recreate Diana's famous looks?

Arguably the most accurate aspect of the Diana movie is the wardrobe, as made evident by the slideshow below. The true story behind the Diana movie reveals that the filmmakers went to great lengths to recreate Diana's iconic looks, even hiring the same designers when feasible. Jacques Azagury, one of Diana's friends and favorite dress makers, was given the task of producing replicas of some of her most memorable dresses.

  • June 3, 1997: Diana wears the sky blue Jacques Azagury beaded gown to see the British National Ballet's performance of Swan Lake at Royal Albert Hall.
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How does the real Dr. Hasnat Khan feel about the Diana movie?

In researching the Diana movie true story, we learned that the real Dr. Hasnat Khan has spoken out against the film, stating that it is based on gossip and conjecture from people who knew very little about his relationship with Princess Diana. That includes some of his own relatives. After seeing a still photo of Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews, who portray Princess Diana and himself in the movie, Khan told the UK newspaper the Mail, "You could tell from that picture that it is all just presumed about how we would behave with each other, and they have got it completely wrong."

Did the filmmakers consult Diana's former lover when making the movie?

No. The UK newspaper the Mail reported that the filmmakers behind the Diana movie repeatedly tried to gain Dr. Hasnat Khan's support and cooperation for the film, with the film's producer even stating that the movie had Khan's "tacit acceptance". However, Dr. Khan tells a somewhat different story. "I haven't spoken to anyone involved in that movie," says Dr. Hasnat Khan. "I have never given my approval for it." Khan says that the filmmakers attempted to contact him a number of times but he rebuffed them.

How long did their relationship last?

The relationship between Dr. Hasnat Khan and Princess Diana lasted approximately two years, beginning in the late summer of 1995 and ending in June 1997, several weeks before her death on August 31, 1997.

Does the director believe that his film paints an accurate picture?

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel says that the movie is "based on the accounts of several people, and the inquest in which there were hundreds of pages discussing their relationship." The movie drew much of its source material from Kate Snell's 2001 book Diana: Her Last Love (available in the right column). Hirschbiegel admits, "It is not a documentary but a dramatic interpretation. In a love story you have to create four or five dramatic scenes that make it work." The film's attempt to chronicle Diana's secret relationship has drawn criticism from audiences and critics alike, who claim that the movie is based more on speculation and gossip than on fact, a point that the real-life Dr. Hasnat Khan has also emphasized. -Sky News

How did Princess Diana and Dr. Hasnat Khan meet?

Oonagh Toffolo and Princess Diana
Princess Diana (right) was introduced to the heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan by her friend and acupuncturist Oonagh Toffolo (left).
Princess Diana met Dr. Hasnat Khan in a waiting room at London's Royal Brompton Hospital on September 1, 1995 while she was there visiting her friend Oonagh Toffolo's husband. Khan describes her as being "down to earth" and "very flirtatious with everyone." (BBC) Diana returned to the hospital every day during her friend's husband's nearly three week hospital stay following complications from triple bypass surgery. Of course, she was also there to get to know Hasnat too, and the pair went on their first date approximately two weeks after meeting. Hasnat took her to his Aunt and Uncle's home in Stratford-upon-Avon for a visit and to pick up some books. They had dinner and drove back to London together (Vanity Fair).

Did Diana really nickname Hasnat Khan 'Mr. Wonderful'?

This is widely accepted as being true, despite Diana's use of the nickname being mainly reported by the tabloids and not directly from the princess herself. In a recent conversation, Diana's former energy healer, Simone Simmons, said that shortly after their relationship began, Diana told her, "I think I've met my Mr. Wonderful." (Vanity Fair) It is not clear if this is exactly how the nickname came to stick. Regardless, today Dr. Hasnat Khan is widely known as Diana's 'Mr. Wonderful'. He has not denounced the nickname as being untrue, then again, being called 'Mr. Wonderful' is not something that most people would feel the urgent need to correct.

What did Princess Diana see in Dr. Hasnat Khan?

Khan was someone that Princess Diana felt she could trust and who would not use her. According to the September 2013 Vanity Fair article "Diana's Impossible Dream" by Sarah Ellison, Diana reportedly told a friend during the summer of her death, "Everybody sells me out. Hasnat is the one person who will never sell me out."

"There wasn't any hierarchy in our relationship," says Hasnat Khan, critiquing a still photo captured from the Diana movie trailer. "She wasn't a princess and I wasn't a doctor. We were friends, and normal people stand like friends with each other. That one still picture told me a lot about how they will portray things in the film and I can see [it] is wrong." -ABC News

When they first met at the Royal Brompton Hospital in 1995, Diana's friend Oonagh Toffolo (pictured above) recalls that upon being introduced to Diana in the waiting room, Dr. Hasnat Khan nodded and left to attend to his work, barely acknowledging the woman he had just met. "It is doubtful if in her entire adult life Diana, the Princess of Wales, had ever made less of an impression on someone!," Toffolo stated in the Mirror following Diana's death. After the doctor left, Princess Diana turned to her friend to comment on how gorgeous he was.

Did the relationship really end because Khan couldn't handle the media intrusion?

Yes. The Diana movie true story reveals that Dr. Hasnat Khan couldn't make a meaningful commitment to the princess because he couldn't handle the media intrusion into their lives. "Even after two years, the relationship wasn't leading to a meaningful progression or conclusion," says Khan, "and that was the main stress on both of us." -Mail Online

Dr. Hasnat Khan
The real Dr. Hasnat Khan had a heavy mustache when Diana met him, pictured here circa 1996.
In a written statement he provided to Lord Justice Scott Baker's 2008 inquest into Diana's death, Khan emphasized his position again, stating that he believed that if their relationship had continued, he would not be able to endure the inevitable media attention, "My main concern about us getting married was that my life would be hell because of who she was. I knew I would not be able to live a normal life and if we ever had children together, I would not be able to take them anywhere or do normal things with them." Khan informed Diana that the only way that they could ever hope to have something that resembled a normal life would be for her to move to his home country of Pakistan where they would not be hounded by the press. Diana visited Pakistan twice and met Khan's family, but Khan says that he got the impression that "she did not consider living there a possibility." -BBC

Who officially ended the relationship, Diana or Hasnat?

In Hasnat Khan's written statement that was read to the jury during the 2008 inquiry, Khan states that Princess Diana ended their relationship shortly after she returned from a vacation with Mohamed Al Fayed (Dodi's father) and his family. Khan suspected there was someone else because Diana seemed "not her normal self". Khan says that he was "surprised when she said there was no-one else." -BBC

Was Diana stripped of her title when she divorced Prince Charles?

Yes. As part of the divorce settlement, Diana was stripped of the HRH (Her Royal Highness) title that had been given to her when she married Prince Charles. However, despite losing the coveted HRH title, she still retained her title Princess of Wales (also bestowed upon her when she married Charles). Following the divorce, she also learned that the Queen was responsible for deleting her name from those members of the Royal Family who are mentioned in prayers in Anglican churches. -Mail Online

What did Princess Diana get in the divorce settlement with Prince Charles?

Despite losing her HRH (Her Royal Highness) title in the divorce settlement, the AP reported that Charles agreed to pay Diana a lump sum of $26.35 million, and roughly $620,000 a year to run her private office. The exes also agreed to share custody of their two sons, William, 14, and Harry, 11.

Did Princess Diana really date Dodi Al Fayed to make Hasnat Khan jealous?

According to some of the real Princess Diana's friends, including businesswoman and charity campaigner Rosa Monckton (the former managing director of Tiffany & Co.), they were convinced that Diana's relationship with Dodi Al Fayed during the last weeks of her life was for the most part an attempt to make Dr. Khan jealous. Monckton believes that Diana was still in love with Khan and wanted to be with him. -Mail Online

Was Hasnat Khan interviewed by the author of the book that the movie was based on?

No. The movie's producer Robert Bernstein was quoted in the Mail as saying, "Kate Snell has met Hasnat two or three times and they got on very well. He trusted her to the extent that he allowed her to meet his family and his friends and it's through that relationship that we were able to move forward, and we're confident that there is a sort of tacit acceptance from his family and Hasnat that what we are doing is OK."

Dr. Hasnat Khan
Diana's secret companion, Dr. Hasnat Khan, in 2012.
The real Hasnat Khan fired back at the producer's statement, saying, "It is a complete lie. I haven't spoken to anyone involved in that movie. I have never given any approval for it. I have never met or talked or written to Bernstein and I have never given any approval in a direct or indirect manner."

With regard to Kate Snell, the author of the 2001 book that the movie was based on, Khan says that she approached him once in the late 1990s at the Royal Brompton Hospital where he was working at the time. They had coffee. "I told her I had nothing to say to her at all," says Khan. When she asked for permission to speak to his relatives, he told her that he couldn't stop her from doing so, but he would not give her their addresses and phone numbers.

Khan says that he has never read the book. "I really don't know how she got her information because even my very close friends didn't know what was going on between me and the Princess."

What happened to Dr. Hasnat Khan after Princess Diana's death?

Hasnat Khan Diana Funeral
Dr. Hasnat Khan is spotted at Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.
Pictured at left, Dr. Hasnat Khan is shown at the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, held at Westminster Abbey on September 6, 1997. He has never shared the details of his relationship with Diana, which many have considered to be a lasting sign of love and respect for the late princess.

Hasnat and Diana had talked about setting up a charity-based hospital in Pakistan. "[Diana and I thought] in the future it would be great to set up a hospital in Pakistan," says Khan, "and also provide support services for women." In 2012, their dream finally became a reality with the building of the Abdul Razzaq Medical Trust hospital. If all goes well, Khan plans to leave Britain to head the hospital's cardiology unit, where children from the poor surrounding villages can receive life-saving surgery and proper medical care. "I think this hospital would be ten years old by now if she was alive," says Khan. -Mail Online

In exploring the Diana movie true story, we discovered that as of 2012, Hasnat Khan had been in two relationships since Diana. The first was a 2006 arranged marriage to 29-year-old Hadia Sher Ali, the daughter of a noble Afghan family. That relationship ended in divorce in 2008. The second was a long-distance relationship with a Greek heart doctor 21 years his junior, which came to an end when the distance became too much of a strain.

What does Hasnat Khan think would have happened if Diana hadn't died?

"She (Diana) could be living very happily and married and having more kids, with me or with someone else. It could have led in that direction. I try not to think about these things," says Khan. "I can't change anything now." On each anniversary of her death, he takes time off and goes away, often returning to his home town in Pakistan. It's his way of avoiding being reminded of the tragedy. -Mail Online

Princess Diana Interviews and Related Video

Watch the actual video of the real Princess Diana walking through the Angolan land mine field and view her famous 1995 Panorama interview.

 Princess Diana Walks Through a Mine Field

In 1997, the real Princess Diana traveled to Angola to raise awareness for land mine clearance. This footage shows her walking through a partially cleared mine field and detonating a land mine. The highly publicized moment was recreated for the Diana movie starring Naomi Watts.

 Princess Diana's Panorama Interview (1995)

Diana talks about her struggles with living up to her duties as the Princess of Wales. She also talks about battling depression that led to self-mutilation and a struggle with bulimia, both the result of dealing with the anxiety caused in part by a troubled marriage. It is one of her most well-known and candid interviews.

 Princess Diana Watches a Heart Operation

View a news report featuring footage of Princess Diana watching a young boy's heart operation at Harefield Hospital in London in 1996. She observed the four-hour operation in the operating room dressed in a surgical masked and gown. In the video, Diana says that she gains much more insight and knowledge from actually seeing what the doctors and nurses do. Chain of Hope, a charity Diana was involved with, made the surgery possible by bringing the boy from Cameroon to the UK where the operation could be performed.

 Princess Diana Narrates Her Land Mine TV Special

Princess Diana narrates this footage from her 1997 trip to Angola to raise awareness for the clearing of land mines. The princess talks to the innocent victims of land mine explosions. At one point, we see her twice push away the microphone of a reporter, whom she felt was being too intrusive toward one land mine victim.

 Diana Movie Trailer

Watch the Diana trailer for the film that explores that last two years of Princess Diana's life, specifically her secret intimate relationship with Dr. Hasnat Khan, a heart surgeon. Actress Naomi Watts portrays the late princess and actor Naveen Andrews (TV's LOST) portrays Dr. Khan.

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