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Paper: Diana Notes Sale Attempted

April 2, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Private letters written by Princess Diana to her lover James Hewitt have been handed to Kensington Palace after a woman tried to sell them to a tabloid newspaper, press reports said Thursday.

Hewitt’s fiancee, Anna Ferretti, tried to sell 62 handwritten letters to editors of the Mirror for $250,000, saying she wanted to sell them before Hewitt did, the newspaper reported.

The letters had been taken from a safe at Hewitt’s home Wednesday while he was abroad on business, the Mirror said.

The Mirror said that it had agreed to pay Ferretti $1,670 in cash. It told readers the $250,000 contract called for publishing the letters, which the newspaper said it never intended to do.

The newspaper handed over the bundle to Kensington Palace, the princess’s former home, with a formal letter promising not to publish or reproduce copies, according to the Mirror and two other tabloid newspapers.

Diana had always wanted the letters returned to her after her affair with Hewitt ended, the tabloid Daily Mail said.

``Clearly this is the most despicable and appalling exploitation of the princess’s private correspondence one can imagine,″ the Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for the late princess’s family as saying.

``We appreciate the decision to preserve the dignity and privacy of the princess and to prevent any further distress to her children,″ the spokesman was quoted as saying.

The princess had a five-year affair with Hewitt, whom she met when he taught Prince William to ride. The two are believed to have exchanged many letters when he served as a tank commander in the Persian Gulf War.

Diana had said during a famous 1995 television interview that she had been in love with Hewitt, and their relationship was the subject of a 1994 best-selling book, ``Princess in Love.″

The letters, The Mirror said, were handwritten on airmail paper between 1989 and 1991 and mailed to Hewitt at army bases through an intermediary.

The newspaper claimed the princess confided in Hewitt about her marriage, her children, charity work and her hopes for the future. In some letters, she signed off as ``Julia″, in others Diana or ``D″ and a kiss, the newspaper said.

Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

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