Prince Philip sent "cruel" letters to Diana

LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Philip, accused of being behind a plot to kill Princess Diana, sent her “derogatory” and “cruel” letters, an inquest into her death heard on Thursday.

The Queen and Prince Philip walk at Broadlands in southern England in an undated photo taken in 2007. Prince Philip, accused of being behind a plot to kill Princess Diana, sent her "derogatory" and "cruel" letters, an inquest into her death heard on Thursday. REUTERS/Fiona Hanson/Pool

Diana also received threats over her high-profile campaign against landmines and had predicted she would be killed by security services, Simone Simmons, a close confidante of the princess, said.

“She was terrified somebody was going to bump her off,” said the therapist, who met the princess in 1993. She used to see her up to five times a week and once spent 10 hours on the phone with her, Simmons told the inquest.

The long-running official inquiry is aiming to discover if there were any sinister circumstances surrounding the deaths of Diana and her lover Dodi al-Fayed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997.

Dodi’s father, luxury storeowner Mohamed al-Fayed, alleges that the couple were killed by spies on the orders of Prince Philip, Diana’s former father-in-law.

Simmons, who said she specialised in “energy healing” using her hands to “correct imbalances in somebody’s electromagnetic field”, told the court that Diana had shown her two “nasty” letters from Philip.

In previous hearings, the inquest has been presented with heavily edited letters dated from 1992 from Philip to Diana which suggested they had a warm relationship, with the princess referring to him as “Dearest Pa”.

But these letters, dated from 1994 and 1995, were very different in tone, according to the therapist.

“The duke, is this right, made cruel and disparaging observations about the propriety of the conduct of Diana?” Nicholas Hilliard, the lawyer representing the coroner, asked Simmons.

“Yes,” she replied, later agreeing with suggestions the letters had been “extremely derogatory”.

Despite the tone, Simmons said they had not been threatening and said the royal family would not have hurt Diana.

Simmons did claim Diana had been threatened because of her attempts to have landmines banned and had given her a note which read “if something happens to me (Security Services) MI5/6 will have done it”.

However she said she no longer had the message as she had burnt it, along with a dossier Diana had given her about landmines.

“I believed if they could bump Diana off they could bump anybody off and I value my life,” she said in explanation.

On Wednesday, Ken Wharfe, Diana’s police protection officer from 1987 until 1993, said he believed Diana’s phone calls were being monitored by MI6.

Wharfe said he believed that an intimate conversation the princess had with James Gilbey in 1989 was recorded by spies at the government’s listening station GCHQ.

Simmons said Diana believed her movements and phone calls were being recorded, adding that when they spoke on landlines, “every time there was a click and she used to say ‘hello boys, time to change the tape’.”

Editing by Giles Elgood