|Hasnat (top), Diana
Hasnat Khan, the 48-year-old heart surgeon who could have married Princess Diana but decided, probably very wisely, not to, is quitting Britain and returning to his native Pakistan, it has been revealed.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say he is being forced out of Britain.
Alone among the men who were Diana’s lovers, Khan has not sold his story for millions of pounds despite intense pressure from newspapers and publishers for him to do so.
Today, since he has taken a Pakistani bride of 29 who remained behind in Pakistan after their marriage last year, he is even less likely to get involved in an unseemly “kiss and tell”.
But a reasonably detailed account of his two-year affair with Diana has come out, partly because of what her garrulous butler, Paul Burrell, saw, and partly because a number of the princess’s staff were complicit in procuring the men for her.
In the case of the Pakistani surgeon, who won Diana’s obsessive love after she saw him operate at the Royal Brompton Hospital in 1995 — she wore a face mask but had her expressive eyes carefully made up for the photo opportunity the occasion presented — he had to be smuggled in and out of her home in Kensington Palace Gardens in the boot of a car. This could not have been easy for the surgeon’s build has varied between sturdy and podgy.
Others have told how Diana would watch Bollywood videos in a desperate attempt to understand him better. She took to wearing the salwar kameez but was persuaded at a Ritu Kumar shop that opened briefly in Mayfair not to buy a red wedding sari (“Ma’am, that saris not for you,” an assistant told her).
Khan has won high praise for his decision not to go into the details of his affair with the Princess, as well as gratitude apparently from Diana’s sons, princes William and Harry, who have to put up with almost a daily account of her their late mother’s fairly healthy sex life. The current inquest being conducted into her life has revealed that she was on the contraceptive pill — thereby demolishing the claim by the owner of Harrods, Mohammed Al Fayed, that she was pregnant by his son, Dodi, and that the couple were about to announce their engagement.
The Daily Mail diarist noted yesterday that “for more than ten years, heart surgeon Hasnat Khan has endured a blizzard of speculation about his doomed love affair with the Princess, keeping both his dignity and his silence. The consultant cardiologist is leaving Britain in the coming days for a new life in his native Pakistan.”
Khan told the paper that his return was unconnected with the prospect that he might be called to give evidence at the inquest and questioned about personal aspects of his relationship with Diana.
Khan said: “I have been planning to go back to Pakistan for more than a year and should have left in August, but have had to delay until this month for a number of reasons. It was always my plan to go home at some stage and I am looking forward to some new challenges in my career.”
Following his marriage, the surgeon had completed the formalities of quitting his job at the London Chest Clinic in Whitechapel.
“I have certainly got nothing to hide about the inquest and I am not running away,” Khan said. “I have no idea if I will give evidence, but I will obey the law and do what is required. As all my friends know, I have moved on from what happened 10 years ago and I have nothing to say about the Princess, who was a dear friend, or her tragic death. The only people who know what happened that night were in that tunnel in Paris.”
In the Evening Standard, his bride was named as Hadia Sher Ali.
It said his flat in Streatham, south London, had been let and his BMW was on sale for £2,500.
The paper recalled that Khan did give evidence to the inquiry headed by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, into Diana’s death. He told the investigation that Diana had talked about marrying him and moving to Pakistan after he told her that it was the “only way he could see them having any sort of normal life together”.
In the inquiry report, Lord Stevens is explicit on the subject: “He knew that the Princess considered this an option for a while. She even went to Pakistan to speak to Jemima Khan about life there. However, after a while she no longer talked about Pakistan and although she did not actually say so, Hasnat Khan got the impression that she longer considered living there a possibility.”
Khan told the Standard: “We have all moved on.”
The fact is that the British media will never leave him alone. Foreign men who sleep with British princesses do so at their peril — as Dodi discovered so tragically. What Khan’s bride thinks about her husband’s past has yet to come out. But Diana’s butler has provided almost a filmi account of how he would cook breakfast for Khan while he stretched languidly in her bed.