Calcutta, May 18: The Pakistani heart surgeon Princess Diana desperately wanted to wed has secretly agreed to an arranged marriage with a young doctor in Lahore.
London-based cardiac consultant Dr Hasnat Khan, 44, is engaged to a woman in her mid-twenties who works in a hospital. The bride-to-be was one of several prospective partners introduced to Hasnat by his parents during a visit to Pakistan in December.
A close family friend in Lahore said: “The couple got engaged at the end of December when Hasnat visited Pakistan. Her family are friends of the Khans.”
Speaking from his home in Jhelum outside Lahore, Hasnat’s father Dr Rashid Ahmed Khan told The Telegraph: “I thank you very much for your congratulations, but I cannot give any further details at this stage.”
The reclusive Hasnat has sworn his inner circle to secrecy over the wedding expected to take place this summer.
But one London acquaintance confirmed: “Yes, he has got engaged, but I have no further details.”
Hasnat has previously turned down two prospective marriage proposals.
The family found themselves mired in controversy recently when Hasnat’s cousin Dr Ahmed Qudoos was arrested by the FBI in Rawalpindi, accused of sheltering wanted terrorists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks in the US.
Diana met Hasnat in 1995 while visiting a friend at London’s Royal Brompton hospital. Months before she died, she is said to have begged the doctor to marry her, and was even prepared to convert to the Muslim faith for him. At the height of their affair, Diana kept his picture by her bedside with a copy of the Quran, and even introduced him to her sons, Princes William and Harry.
Former Pakistan cricket captain-turned-politician Imran Khan has revealed that Diana asked him to act as a marriage broker on her behalf, saying she was “very deeply in love”.
Hasnat’s mother Naheed Khan, who was in regular correspondence with Diana, said: “Her conversion would have made a marriage much easier in Pakistan. Perhaps this is why she wanted to become a Muslim. She said she had made a decision that would shock the world.”
But Hasnat is understood to have ruled out a marriage that could cause trouble for their families.
Naheed added: “There were a lot of rumours that he wanted to marry her, but he told his friends that marriage would not be possible due to cultural differences.”
Diana’s affair with Dodi Fayed was said to have been designed to make Hasnat jealous.
Her former butler, Paul Burrel, cleared in a high court trial last November of stealing Diana possessions, has told how he used to smuggle Hasnat into her Kensington Palace residence in the boot of his car. Burrell said: “He was her soul mate and she begged him to marry her.”
One relative, Lubna Khan, spoke last year of the pressure Hasnat was under to take a bride. “Hasnat’s parents worry about him becoming lonely in London without a wife, and they are getting old. They want him to take a bride very soon.”