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Princess Margaret destroyed letters from Diana to Queen Mother - Telegraph

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    Princess Margaret destroyed letters from Diana to Queen Mother

    Princess Margaret destroyed letters from Diana, Princess of Wales to the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the biographer William Shawcross has disclosed.

    Queen Elizabeth II (right) with her mother Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (centre), and her sister Princess Margaret while celebrating the Queen Mother's 93rd birthday Photo: AP

    By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

    8:01AM BST 17 Sep 2009

    She was trying to "protect" her mother and other members of the Royal family, Shawcross believed.

    The late Princess told a friend that she had ordered the destruction of large bin bags full of personal papers "because they were so private".

    Shawcross, who was chosen by the Queen to write the official biography of her late mother, described the loss of the letters as "regrettable from a historical viewpoint", suggesting some might have shed new light on the breakdown of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Queen's reaction to it.

    Princess Margaret went through her mother's papers in 1993, several months after the Prince and Princess of Wales had announced their separation.

    A year earlier, Andrew Morton's book Diana: Her True Story had disclosed that the Princess felt she had been rejected not only by her husband but also by the Queen and other members of the Royal family.

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    Several years later it was reported that Princess Margaret had burned bundles of her mother's letters though at the time it was not known which ones.

    Shawcross's book contains the first confirmation that letters from the Princess of Wales were among them.

    He writes: "Princess Margaret was engaged on one of her periodic 'sortings' of her mother's papers."

    In a letter to her mother, who was staying at Birkhall on the Balmoral estate, the Princess wrote: "I am going back today to clear up some more of your room. Keeping the letters for you to sort later."

    Shawcross writes: "On the Princess's orders, large black bags of papers were taken away for destruction rather than for ultimate consignment to the Royal Archives. There is no record of just what was thus lost but Princess Margaret later told Lady Penn (who was related by marriage to Queen Elizabeth's private secretary, Sir Arthur Penn) that among the papers she had destroyed were letters from the Princess of Wales to Queen Elizabeth – because they were so private, she said.

    "No doubt Princess Margaret felt that she was protecting her mother and other members of the family. It was understandable, although regrettable from a historical viewpoint."

    The Princess of Wales's grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth and historians have speculated that the Princess might have used her as a sounding board during the breakdown of her marriage.

    However, Queen Elizabeth had a strong relationship with her grandson, the Prince of Wales, and might have been anxious for any material which painted him – or the Queen –in a bad light to be destroyed before it could become public property.

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