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Diana Threatening to Break off Talks

March 1, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Princess Diana’s lawyer has threatened to halt divorce negotiations, saying the palace is trying to reneg on promises Prince Charles made about her post-divorce title, home and office.

``If we cannot rely on agreements that have been made, it would be unsafe to continue negotiations,″ the princess’ lawyer, Anthony Julius, said in a statement late Thursday.

The dispute bodes ill for Queen Elizabeth II’s hopes, expressed publicly in December, that her son and daughter-in-law will divorce quickly.

Palace officials ``want to get the princess out of this marriage by giving her the absolute minimum,″ an unidentified legal aide of the princess was quoted as saying today in the Daily Mail tabloid. The reporter, Richard Kay, is considered a confidant of Diana.

``I have given them everything they wanted and they are still not satisfied,″ Kay quoted Diana as saying. ``I did not want this divorce but I have agreed to it. Now they are playing pingpong with me.″

The argument centers on what Diana says she was promised at the private meeting Wednesday with Charles during which she agreed to a divorce. The meeting took place at St. James’ Palace in London, where Charles lives and works and Diana has an office.

Custody of Prince William, 13, and Prince Harry, 11, is not expected to be an issue. The parents have been dividing time with the boys, and there is no question about financial support.

Diana has made it clear she expects to keep a title _ and a firm grip on her status as a Very Important Princess.

She would be Diana, Princess of Wales, would continue to live at Kensington Palace and would continue to have an office at St. James’s Palace, she announced in a statement Wednesday after the meeting.

But the palace later insisted that neither the divorce settlement nor the princess’ post-divorce role were discussed by Charles and Diana then.

``All the details on these matters, including titles, remain to be discussed and settled,″ the palace said in a statement. ``This will take time.″

The princess was so distraught Thursday that she pulled out of an official dinner, something royals never do if they can stand on two feet.

Diana was ``very upset and decidedly sad,″ her spokeswoman Jane Atkinson said. ``The princess would prefer a few days of quiet before she picks up her public engagements again _ any woman would.

``The princess had a meeting with her husband and came out of that meeting feeling that this had been agreed,″ said Ms. Atkinson. ``Otherwise, she would not have made the statement.″

Ms. Atkinson also said Diana has agreed to relinquish those three coveted initials HRH, which stand for Her Royal Highness and apply only to the uppermost echelon of the royal family.

Charles Anson, a spokesman for the queen, said Thursday that relinquishing the royal highness title was Diana’s idea.

But Kay quoted an unidentified member of Diana’s staff today as saying the royal family had made it ``abundantly clear″ surrendering claim to the initials was a precondition of the divorce negotiations.

A small matter, perhaps, but as any office worker can testify, these things count in the hierarchy of power.

King Edward VIII, who became Duke of Windsor when he abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson, never got over the royal decision to deny his duchess the HRH.

The two lived in self-imposed exile in France for the rest of their lives, nursing the pain of the family’s rejection.

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