8:45 A.M. Phone rings. Silence.

8:49 A.M. Phone rings.

8:54 A.M. Phone rings. Silence.

2:12 P.M. Phone rings. Silence.


7:55 P.M. Phone rings. Silence.

8:19 P.M. Phone rings. Silence.

It was January 13, 1994 and this was the log of calls made to the home of art dealer Oliver Hoare and his wife Diane de Waldner de Freundstein.

Starting the year before, the couple began receiving nuisance phone calls. Sometimes they were greeted with silence, while on another instance, de Waldner de Freundstein picked up the phone to hear someone screaming abuse at her.

Princess Diana with Prince Charles and Oliver Hoare and his wife Diane. Photo / Getty Images
Princess Diana with Prince Charles and Oliver Hoare and his wife Diane. Photo / Getty Images

So, by January 1994, she had had enough. According to reports, she called the police who placed a tracker on the phone. (Oliver was an Islamic art dealer and some have claimed that she feared that terrorist forces were behind this oral assault.)

The authorities soon realised the calls were coming from one of the most famous homes in the world — Kensington Palace. Their investigation also revealed that the 300-odd calls had also come from pay phones in Kensington and Notting Hill, the home of Lady Sarah McCorquodale and, most damningly, the mobile phone belonging to none other than Diana, Princess of Wales.

Secret lovers

By the early '90s, the War of the Waleses was in full, brutal swing. Charles and Diana faced off, nearly daily, using the front pages of Fleet Street tabloids to lob media salvos at one another.

Enter longtime friend of the couple, Oliver Hoare. Good looking and dashing, the successful art dealer had been a pal of both the Waleses and, according to royal biographer, Tina Brown, is said to have offered to act as intermediary between the couple.


Instead, he and the princess ended up falling into a four-year affair.

Former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe wrote in his book, Diana: Closely Guarded Secret: "The Princess was instantly attracted to him … Diana later confessed to me that she had felt a little shy when, at Windsor, she shook his hand for the first time, and had blushed as she flirted with him.

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"That conversation ended abruptly when Charles and the Queen Mother joined them."

Soon, Wharfe and others in the princess' orbit saw increasing evidence of the duo's relationship. During one infamous instance, it has been alleged that Diana smuggled Hoare into Kensington Palace in the boot of her car.

During another, Wharfe has claimed that he once spied Hoare "half-naked" in the palace corridors because Diana refused to let him smoke in her bedroom.

Oliver Hoare leaving his home in Chelsea, London. The millionaire art dealer was reportedly plagued by nuisance telephone calls made from the Princess of Wales' private lines. Photo / Getty Images
Oliver Hoare leaving his home in Chelsea, London. The millionaire art dealer was reportedly plagued by nuisance telephone calls made from the Princess of Wales' private lines. Photo / Getty Images

Writes Diana's private secretary of eight years, Patrick Jephson: "Later they seemed not to notice (or care) what people saw. He eventually parked his Volvo openly at the palace."

Hoare's chauffeur Barry Hodge even alleged that his boss and the princess had set up a "love nest" in the nearby central London suburb of Pimlico and would meet up there three or four times a week. He also claimed that Diana would sometimes call Hoare as many as 20 times a day on his car phone.

However, it wasn't only palace staff who had realised that the princess and the old Etonian charmer were enjoying a clandestine romance. So too had his wife, French oil heiress Diane de Waldner de Freundstein. While Hoare's business was successful (he counted Middle Eastern royalty among his clients) it has been alleged that it was his wife's fortune that helped prop up his venture.

De Waldner de Freundstein was reportedly furious when she learned of her husband's alleged infidelity but agreed to give their marriage another shot if he broke things off with the princess.

And this is when things got really complicated.

Ring, ring, ring

For Diana, according to a number of her biographers, Hoare wasn't just a casual fling but a man she desperately wanted to spend the rest of her life with. The then 30-year-old is said to have dreamt of leaving royal life behind and moving to Italy with Hoare to start a new family, according to Tina Brown in The Diana Chronicles, and was allegedly determined to get him to leave de Waldner de Freundstein.


"Diana had wonderful qualities of heart, but she was terribly possessive," Lady Elsa Bowker told Brown. "If she loved someone he had to leave everything, including children. Her possessiveness frightened men. Everything became drama."

And boy, was the drama about to ramp up a notch.

Denied by the man she had set her heart on, Diana reportedly began to wage a campaign of harassment.

From her home, her mobile and her car, Diana started to call Hoare and de Waldner de Freundstein's multi-million pound Chelsea home.

Some nights, she would don gloves so she didn't leave fingerprints, don a disguise and slip out to use pay phones in the suburbs surrounding Kensington Palace.

During other instances, she is alleged to have parked outside their home and used her mobile to call his landline, watching lights go in the house. (When she told confidant Joseph Sanders this he reproached her saying, "You know you're a very silly girl to behave like this and you shouldn't think you can get away with it.")


As we know, she didn't.

"Mr. Hoare went white as a sheet when he saw our report," an investigator said, according to royal biographer Kitty Kelley. "He never imagined in his wildest dreams that Princess Diana could be making the calls."

When the police worked out where the calls were coming from, Hoare stepped in and asked them to stop his investigation. He would speak to the princess.

The calls did indeed stop but the whole unseemly chapter was only known about by a handful of people.

Mad, bad or just a little bit sad?

In August, 1994, the story was about to break. The now defunct News of the World broke the story with the headline, "DI'S CRANKY CALLS TO MARRIED TYCOON."

Diana, meanwhile, had turned to her trusted confidant Daily Mail royal correspondent Richard Kay to give her side of the story, claiming that it was a schoolboy friend of one of Hoare's sons who had made the calls and saying, "I don't even know how to use a parking meter, let alone a phone box."


But, the damage was already done.

While public sympathy was firmly on the side of Diana during that time, this one incident nearly immediately recast her as a deeply unbalanced, damaged woman.

On the pages of Britain's biggest tabloids, editorials asked such questions as, "Is the Princess of Wales going mad?" and postulated, "She's a hysterical woman clearly teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown."

Or, as Brown has put it: "The net result was that the radiant Diana of the Serpentine was rendered as a nut case who preyed on other women's husbands."

All of which mattered, hugely.

Public perception was key to both Diana and Charles as they battled it out for the hearts and minds of the British people. Suddenly, Charles started looking like a more sympathetic creature, having to put up with this woman who was being portrayed as mad and just a bit bad.


While the pendulum would swing the other way, it was still a deeply embarrassing situation which severely tainted Diana's reputation. While she had been outed as cheating before, this was the first time she had been so clearly linked to a married man.

Still, there are some strange, unanswered questions about the whole imbroglio.

Patrick Jephson was Diana's trusted private secretary at the time. He says that when the story broke, "I asked a contact in the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group if there had been such an investigation and if there was a printout of the calls made.

"The answer was 'yes' to both questions." However, within 24 hours the printout was missing."

We will never know the truth. Oliver Hoare passed away on August 23 last year, nearly 24 years to the day the public found out about the calls and his alleged fling with the most famous woman in the world. He never once spoke publicly about the affair.