Speaking about the Princess's death, Lucia said: "The emotions I felt that day - the upset, the sorrow, the shock - are still very much with me today. She left us too early. She had so much to do and it pains me that she died in such a violent way." One of the Princess's closest friends, Lucia was there for Diana during some of the darkest and most difficult moments in the last six years of her life. She advised her during the breakdown of her marriage, welcomed her into her home during her painful separation and even flew back from America to be with her on the day of her divorce in 1996. "She needed someone to be there. It was difficult for her, because she never wanted to divorce Prince Charles. I think in her heart there was always hope that things might get better. She told me that the day she signed her divorce papers she said to him, 'I'll never stop loving you.' It was very sad," Lucia explains.
According to Lucia, Diana often spoke of her sadness at not having a daughter. "She told me how, when Prince Harry was born, Charles had hoped for a girl. Of course, when Harry was born they were thrilled but they did talk of having more children. Sadly, by that time, their marriage had already gone sour. Diana never talked about having a girl with another man after the divorce. It was always in reference to Charles. She never really stopped loving Charles, but towards her last months, she grew to accept that he was with Camilla. She was no longer bitter."
Diana's relationship with the diplomat's wife began in 1991, when Lucia's husband Paulo Tarso Flecha di Lima was appointed ambassador to London. Lucia and Diana were introduced by a mutual friend and, despite their cultural differences and the 20 year age gap, the pair clicked instantly. "I was older and a foreigner - but in some ways this helped our friendship. And because of my age I could give her advice. She was like any other child. They come, they ask for your advice, they don't like what they hear, so they do the exact opposite," she laughs.
Diana spent much of her spare time at Lucia's London home and was even given her own bedroom there. "She came for weekends when her boys were away. She was always welcome. There would be dinners, long chats - the normal thing between friends. We would watch movies together, eat Chinese takeaways in front of the television. There was one very funny occasion, I remember, when I asked the manager of the embassy to get a film about music or ballet because these were the things Diana loved. So he goes off and rents a film called Beethoven, which of course wasn't about the composer at all, but a children's film about a dog! The poor man's English wasn't good and he had seen the title and thought she'd like that. Diana laughed and laughed," Lucia says.
The Princess became so much a part of the Flecha di Lima household. "She'd jump into bed with my daughter, Beatrice, and talk about her boyfriends and girly things. Diana married so young that she missed out on much of her youth, but with us, she would be young again. Diana was also very close to my husband. He adored her. When she was travelling to Angola, she turned to him for advice because he had visited the country many times as ambassador. And when he was in hospital in a coma, she was the only one who could get him out of it. We had all tried for days but with no luck. Then Diana came and said, 'May I try?' and she said his name and he woke up - just like that!"
By the end of 1992, relations between the Prince and Princess of Wales had became so strained they decided to separate. Feeling increasingly isolated, Diana turned more and more to her surrogate family for love and support. "I gave her the family life she wanted. I was her friend and sometimes, maybe because of my age, I acted like an aunt to her. But I never tried to be a mother to her, that is a very special relationship." Diana had a complicated relationship with her mother, the late Frances Shand Kydd, who walked out on her husband and children, when Diana was seven. "The fact that her mother left her when she was a child created huge issues, but as Diana got older and went through her own problems, she realised how hard it was for her. It was a difficult relationship, though. Her mother lived so far away and that often made Diana feel isolated," Lucia explains.
While many of her friendships had their ups and downs, Diana never fell out with Lucia. "Again, I think that was because of my age, and the fact that I had nothing to gain from her. Diana was always worried that people who got closer to her had some hidden agenda - and in some cases, she was, sadly, proved right. Many people pretended to be her friend when she was alive, and many since she has died. I find it such a shame that so many people want to make money out of her - even the ones she trusted." Lucia choose to remember the Princess of Wales as a very special woman who brought love, laughter, glamour and sorrow into her house. "As a woman of her time who fought the woman's cause even at the price of her own happiness. As a brave, kind woman who really cared. Diana was very like me. She loved to touch people. In my country, the first thing you do is open your arms to them. Unlike the other royals, I never once saw her wear gloves. Diana really wanted to touch people, and she did."
The Diana Chronicles, By Tina Brown. Publication Date: 28 July 2011
Princess Diana Treated Lucia As A “Second Mother”
Lucia Spent One Week In Athens With Diana Shortly Before Her Untimely Death In 1997