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November 6, 2002
2114 IST

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'Diana was prepared to convert to Islam'

Shyam Bhatia in London

Britain's Princess Diana was at one stage prepared to convert to Islam, according to the mother of the Pakistani surgeon she was supposed to be in love with.

Nahid Khan, Lahore-based mother of heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, is quoted in the British media as saying, "Everyone knew she wanted to marry him, but he felt it would be impossible. He said 'we would not be able to go anywhere together. Our cultures are so different'. Perhaps this is why she wanted to become a Muslim. She said she had made a decision that would shock the world."

Diana's relationship with Khan has become an issue of gossip following the trial of her butler, Paul Burrell, who was last week acquitted of stealing personal possessions of the British royal family.

Since his acquittal, Burrell's leaked accounts of what he saw during his nine-year service with Diana has shocked and fascinated British society.

One of his more shocking revelations tells how Diana went out to see Khan wearing only fur coat and sapphire and diamond earrings.

Much of what Burrell saw and told the police in a written statement following his arrest has been subsequently confirmed in a series of articles for the Daily Mirror newspaper. Burrell is being paid an estimated 300,000 for the articles.

But other members of Khan's family have spoken of their astonishment at Burrell's decision to go public with the information he has.

Khan's aunt, Lubhna, is quoted as saying: "This kind of talk about Diana and Hasnat is showing very little respect for them. He [Khan] doesn't want to have anything published and out of respect he doesn't want to talk about Diana."

"Hasnat never asked his parents if he could marry Diana and who knows what would have happened had she not been killed. There were tricky and difficult decisions, but Hasnat never discussed her with anybody," she added. "He is all about respecting her, which is why it is sad that this butler has told that she wanted to marry him... I just don't understand why those who were close to her would tell her secrets for money."

One of Diana's friends has confirmed the princess was serious about converting to Islam and even plotted to trap Khan by getting pregnant.

Simone Simmons is quoted by a London newspaper as describing how Diana told her, "I could trap him by having his baby and then I could be plain Mrs Hasnat Khan and be happy." Simmons said: "I told her 'this is not EastEnders [a popular British soap opera]. It's the royal family'."

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