It is 25 years since the princess helped Rosa through one of the most tragic life events; the passing of her stillborn daughter. This little-known series of events is a prime example of Diana’s capacity for kindness – and one that the princess attempted to keep under wraps.
Having split from Charles, Diana befriended Rosa in the early ’90s and the pair became instant confidantes. In 1993 when Rosa fell pregnant, no-one was more delighted than Diana.
However, the joy was to be short-lived when six months into the pregnancy infant Natalia did not survive.
For the princess, the tragedy would have undoubtedly conjured up memories of her family’s own heartbreaking history. Diana, the fourth child of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and Frances Roche, was born a year-and-a-half after her older brother John, who had died 10 hours after being born.
Although Diana of course never met her older brother, who would’ve been part of her royal family, royal commentator Phil Dampier believes this tragedy, along with other events during her upbringing, shaped Diana’s ability to provide unwavering support to others – particularly during moments of grief.
“She had all sorts of problems in her own life and so it made her feel better to help others,” Phil explained. “But that doesn’t detract from how important those gestures were to those concerned.”
Rosa witnessed this first-hand when she suffered her own tragic loss. Diana was a rock to her despondent friend and masterminded a proposal – that the baby receive a special burial in her very own royal backyard, the grounds of Kensington Palace.
“She offered her garden out of the blue,” a friend of the princess told the Daily Mail.
“They were very grateful. It was a wonderful gesture made at a time when their spirits were at their lowest.”
But the generous act was completely secretive – and for many years even the family themselves denied it. However, in a more recent interview with Sunday Night, Rosa admitted to the events. “It was an extraordinary thing to do,” Rosa reflected on Diana’s gesture.
The reason for the secrecy extended beyond it being a selfless act of a giving soul – it was also a necessity in order to pull it off.
To arrange the special burial plans, Diana reportedly bypassed security by telling them she planned to bury a pet in the garden. Her butlers, Harold Brown and Paul Burrell, were then tasked with digging the grave. In fact, the only reason the story later came to light was during the butlers’ subsequent Old Bailey court trials.
The private and emotional burial ceremony, held on the royal grounds, was said to be attended by just three mourners: Rosa, Dominic and Diana.
When Diana herself passed away just a few years later, Rosa penned a heartfelt tribute expressing how Diana had been a “constant support, day and night, throughout these intensely difficult and private moments”.
“She more than anyone knew what to say and what to do,” Rosa wrote.
“She instinctively found the words to ease the pain, and at the same time knew that I should name my daughter, and bury her. She always remembered her anniversary and talked about her often. I will never ever forget her face, her touch, her warmth and compassion on the day that we buried Natalia.”
Although Natalia’s grave remains unmarked, the royal family are said to be aware of its location and even throughout subsequent renovations, the ground remains undisturbed.
Royal commentator Phil explains that Rosa still holds a key to the royal garden so she can visit whenever she likes. “I’m sure that when Rosa visits, she feels Di’s presence and it brings back a lot of happy memories of her friendship, support and love.”
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