Hasnat Khan, the heart surgeon who had a passionate two-year romance with Princess Diana, has said his family didn’t disapprove of her and the relationship “had their blessing”.
The man she referred to as Mr Wonderful also revealed that 16 years after the royal’s death he is still struggling to come to terms with her loss.
Speaking to the Sun, the Pakistani doctor said: “Both my parents, grandmother and all close relatives who met Diana liked her very much and my parents and grandmother never objected to our relationship.
“They were very much happy for us to make a decision ourselves and made it clear they would support it 100 per cent. We both had their blessing.”
The comments were made in response to suggestions in the film Diana that relatives asked him to choose between the Princess and his Muslim family. Publicity surrounding the film has revived memories that have never really faded.
He said: “It’s been difficult for me to get my head around Diana’s death or talk about it. After she died things were difficult, very difficult.
“We all have our own traumas and get on with it. But when it’s there in your face year in, year out, it’s hard.”
Hasnat, now 54, also said she is still with him as he carries out vital humanitarian work in Africa. He made the comments as he travelled to Ethiopia to perform heart operations on young orphans.
On behalf of Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub’s Chain of Hope charity, the doctor makes two or three such trips a year to developing countries like Mozambique and his native Pakistan.
Despite being intensely private, he has chosen to speak out to raise money for the organisation.
He said the Princess’ memory had helped not get distracted from his mission.
“Sometimes when I do a job like this I do have these very strong feelings that Diana is still with me somehow.
“Not in a religious or spiritual sense, but in the way you feel when you’ve known someone really well in your life and instinctively know how they’d react in a given situation.
“The past few weeks have been tough and I know Diana would be saying, ‘Stay focused and keep getting on with your life. Help these children. Be happy’.
“I also know she would be proud of the sort of work we’re doing here in Ethiopia. She was a great humanitarian and that’s how she should always be remembered.”