Both found themselves trapped in troubled marriages, as both their princes sought solace in extramarital affairs.
Most disturbing of all is that both Diana and Grace predicted they would die in car accidents – Grace in 1982 when hers plunged over a cliff in Monaco, and Diana 15 years later in a fateful collision in a Paris tunnel.
From the moment they met, Diana and Grace seemed to come to a rather uncanny understanding about each other. Indeed, Diana once confided to Grace’s daughter, Princess Caroline, that she and her mother were “psychically connected”.
And, according to renowned UK scientific handwriting analyst, Deborah Jaffe, it’s not so far-fetched. After analysing Diana and Grace’s handwriting, she claimed they’re spookily similar in style.
Diana and Grace first met on March 3, 1981 at a music recital in London, only a week after the announcement of Diana’s engagement to Prince Charles.
It was her first public outing as Charles’ fiancée, and she was overwhelmed by the constant attention of the assembled paparazzi. She also struggled with a plunging black taffeta gown two-sizes too small that exposed far more cleavage than intended.
Grace noted the increasing distress of Diana and so pulled the younger woman into the ladies’ room. Once alone, Diana burst into tears and confided to Grace she had only just realised what royal life ahead would be like.
Grace warmly hugged the distraught Diana and in an attempt make her laugh at the situation, cupped Diana’s face in her hands. “Don’t worry, dear,” she said with a gentle smile. “You see, it‘ll only get worse.”
According to British satirist Craig Brown in his book, Hello Goodbye Hello, “Grace told her to bear with it, to slow down, to not worry about it. She explained it wouldn’t subside completely but that she would learn to deal with it. She was very motherly with Diana.”
That first meeting was to leave a profound impression on both women about the state of their respective lives.
As described in Wendy Leigh’s book, True Grace, her new friend said of Diana, “Poor thing. I have gravest doubts whether she will stay the course. They [Diana and Charles] have nothing in common. I think he’s far too old for her and she’s very, very young herself.”
Diana had her own insights about the Monaco princess.
“How wonderful and serene she was, but there was troubled water under her – I saw that,” she later confided to Andrew Morton for his book, Diana: Her True Story.
The princesses met a number of times after that, including months later at Diana and Charles’ spectacular wedding and also taking in a match from the royal box at Wimbledon.
Of all the things they had in common, the strangest is that they both predicted they would die in a car accident.
As True Grace reveals, Grace once consulted with the celebrated American psychic, Frank Andrews, and asked, “I’ve always had a premonition that I’m going to die in a car crash – will I?”
Andrews responded, “If you don’t change your eating habits and your drinking, you can very easily have a stroke or a heart attack, and that could happen in a car.”
Which is what happened on September 13, 1982, when Grace suffered at least one stroke while driving on the winding roads above Monaco, crashed over a cliff, the car plummeting almost 40 metres. While her daughter, Princess Stephanie survived, Grace’s life support was turned off the next day; she was 52.
Diana was determined to attend Grace’s funeral, but Charles vetoed her plans. As reported in Andrew Morton’s tome, Diana explained, “Well, I think it’s important, because she was an outsider who married into a big family, and I’ve done the same, so it would feel right.’”
Undeterred, a defiant Diana then approached the Queen directly, who agreed she should attend.
At the funeral in Monaco, a dignified and confident Diana proved just how far she had come in the 18 months since she first met Grace, although tears spilled down her face throughout the service in Monaco-Ville.
Returning to the UK, Diana was praised for representing the monarchy by attending the funeral, in spite of Charles’ opposition. “And I thought; ‘Well, interesting’,” Diana recalled.
Only 14 years later, just like Grace before her, Diana predicted her own demise.
While negotiating her divorce settlement in the mid-90s, she wrote a letter to her butler, Paul Burrell, stating: “This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous – my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury.”
The letter seems chilling in terms of the writer’s untimely demise only 10 months later on August 31, 1997, in that crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. She was barely 36.