Ex-French president’s romance with Princess Diana

Ex-French president’s romance with Princess Diana

Steamy new novel by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing charts secret affair between fictional French president and British royal

Lovers? ... Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Princess Di

Lovers? … Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Princess Di

Photo from the Sun

He’s an 83-year-old former French president, famous for his accordion playing and royal tastes. She was Britain’s people’s princess, more than 30 years his junior. But a racy new novel by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has left the French media pondering whether the suave retired president known as “Monsieur Ex” was closer to Diana, Princess of Wales, than previously thought.

Princess Diana

Giscard’s latest literary offering, The Princess and the President, published next week, is a highly detailed romance between a fictional French president and a thinly veiled British royal – Patricia, Princess of Cardiff, or “Lady Pat”. The tome has attracted the mirth and curiosity of the French media, who wonder if it’s simply the literary imaginings of an old man with a glint in his eye or hints at a kernel of truth.

In the book, the president, Jacques-Henri Lambertye, a hot-blooded widower, meets Princess Patricia in the 1980s at Buckingham Palace after a G7 dinner. He soon wants to go further than the traditional French presidential kiss of a lady’s hand.

The doe-eyed princess is in a miserable marriage and throws herself into charity work for children with Aids and fighting landmines. “Ten days before my marriage, my future husband told me he had a mistress and that he had decided to continue his relationship with her,” she confides. When the president does gallantly kiss her hand, he notes: “She gave me a questioning look, her slate-grey eyes widening as she tilted her head forward.”

In a nifty metaphor of Franco-British relations, Henri makes his first move to seduce Patricia on an official train journey back from a commemoration of the D-day landings. Their passion is consummated at the Château of Rambouillet, where Giscard often organised presidential hunts.

“The ritual of the hunt was always the same,” the narrator writes of the affair that unfolds in Kensington and various chateaux. He recalls how her voice still haunts him with the English phrase she would utter: “I wish that you love me [sic].”

Giscard left office the year Diana married Prince Charles, but they met at charity engagements.

The novel’s epigraph states “Promise kept”, and at the end Patricia says: “You asked my permission to write your story. I grant it to you, but you must make me a promise …”

Le Figaro, the first paper to preview the work, asked: “Total fiction, writer’s dream, true story? Only the author has the key to this enigma.”

“Former French president hints at romance with Princess Diana”, Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, guardian.co.uk,

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