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This Was Princess Diana's Final New Year's Resolution

Sadly, she never saw it come to pass.

The year she died, Princess Diana made a bold New Year's resolution that she sadly did not live to see come true.

According to a good friend of the princess who I first interviewed for my book, Diana: The Secrets of Her Style, Diana planned to make many changes in her life in 1997, and was committed to forging a new path for herself. In 1996, shortly after Christmas, Diana phoned a her friend (the royal insider) and declared, "In the new year, I am going to live my life to make myself happy!"

Diana's divorce from Prince Charles had been finalized four months earlier, finally putting an official end to their unhappy marriage, and she told her friend she was determined to reset the course for her life. The princess was deeply in love with Dr. Hasnat Khan, the 36-year-old Pakistani heart surgeon she'd been involved with since 1995. She hoped they would marry.

"Diana talked endlessly about him and was considering converting to Islam. She called him 'The One.' She wanted to find a way for them to be together despite the difficult obstacles in their way," said the insider. "She spent many nights in his room at the Royal Brompton Hospital with him because Hasnat was so devoted to his work and even went to his apartment when he wasn't there and tidied up."

The princess also decided to pare down her charitable commitments in Britain from one hundred different organizations to the six she cared most about: Centrepoint, the Royal Marsden Hospital, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, the English National Ballet, the Leprosy Mission, and the National AIDS Trust.

She even cast off her title as the unofficial ambassador of British fashion, choosing to wear more streamlined and chic looks from international designers like Versace and Dior. "In the last year of her life," recalled designer Jacques Azagury, who created many of Diana's sexiest post-divorce looks, "Diana's confidence grew. Everything came through in the clothes she was wearing. She was following fashion on the fashion scale rather than the 'princess' scale." In June of 1997, Diana sold 79 of her dresses worn during her early years as a member of the royal family at Christie's auction house in New York, raising $3.25 million for charity.

Diana's shocking death on August 31, 1997, in Paris brought an end to a life in transition—one that would have been dramatically different than the one she had known as a member of the royal family and wife of the future king of England. It was also one was that just beginning.

"She had so many plans for the future," said designer Donald Campbell. "I think she had grown out of her 'Englishness' and become a woman of the world. We'll never know what she could have accomplished." And for more on the late princess, This Was Princess Diana's Adorable Nickname for Prince William.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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