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No Royal Family Christmas for Princess Diana

December 18, 1995 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Never mind that she confessed adultery on television, and he’s being more open about his mistress. It was still going to be a nice family Christmas with the kids, the grandparents and all.

Then, Princess Diana changed her mind.

Diana canceled plans to spend Christmas with Prince Charles and her in-laws, Buckingham Palace announced Monday. That means for the first time, she will be away from her sons, princes William and Harry, for the holiday.

Instead of going to Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s estate in Norfolk, 100 miles from London, Diana will take a private holiday, the palace said. Press Association, the British news agency, said she may visit friends in Vail, Colo.

In a BBC television interview on Nov. 21, the princess admitted she had had a lover, suggested Charles was unfit to be king, and said she wanted to be a roving ambassador for Britain.

For his part, Charles has been seen at events attended by Camilla Parker Bowles, whom Diana blames largely for the breakdown of the marriage. In the latest example, the prince and the divorced Mrs. Parker Bowles rode in the same foxhunt Monday, but he joined hours after the start. The two weren’t seen together.

The palace, at pains to play down the animosity, announced right after the BBC interview that Diana _ whose turn it was to have the princes for Christmas _ would be at Sandringham for the family gathering.

Formally separated since Dec. 9, 1992, the couple have equal time with their sons during the school vacation. William, 13, and Harry, 11, apparently like Christmas at Sandringham, so Diana has continued to go there, too, arriving on Christmas Eve and going with the family to church on Christmas Day.

Not this year.

In another sign that Charles and Diana are more estranged since last Christmas, the two sent separate cards with vastly different portraits of them with their sons.

Charles’ card shows him sitting on a garden bench with his sons on either side peeping out of enormous urns.

Diana’s card has the boys draped round her _ a soft-focus black-and-white portrait of a beaming mother with two adoring children.

``Diana’s is a warm family portrait of a beautiful mother and her two sons. Charles’ is a carbuncle among Christmas cards,″ editorialized the News of the World. ``In whose hands would you place the future of the House of Windsor?″

Newspapers quoted royal insiders as saying the relaxed look in both cards reflected the couple’s increasing ease with their new lifestyles.

``She’s no longer frightened,″ psychologist Jane Firbank told the Sunday Mirror. ``And it shows.″