Not quite an advert for healthy living. Yet the moment Diana, Princess of Wales, set eyes on the Pakistan-born surgeon, her heart skipped a beat. Oonagh later told me: She was so overwhelmed, it can only have been a soul encounter.
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Their intense Diana dating heart surgeon largely secret two-year romance is now the subject of a new film by the director Oliver Hirschbiegel, Diana, out next month. Naomi Watts, the Oscar-nominated actress, plays the love-struck princess, while the rakishly handsome Naveen Andrews, star of the television series Lost, is the publicity-shy NHS doctor.
In the past, films about Diana have been low-budget, made-for-television affairs that have had scant critical recognition. Given the tragic drama of her life, it is surprising that so few have been tempted to interpret her story. The movie has propelled Diana dating heart surgeon back on to the cover of Vanity Fair — the fifth time since her death in August Her surgeon boyfriend also, reluctantly, returns to the limelight.
This is in contrast with the suffocating secrecy surrounding their affair. Diana, then 35, frequently wore a wig and spectacles as a disguise, and once climbed out of a ground-floor window when she visited him at Harefield Hospital in west London to avoid discovery. Shortly after her birthday in Julythe Princess apparently met her lover wearing a fur coat, a pair of sapphire-and-diamond earrings Diana dating heart surgeon and nothing more apart from a big smile.
As with her other relationships, Diana threw herself into his life and interests. When she visited Pakistan on a humanitarian mission infor instance, she made a point of visiting his parents for tea. Her romance coincided with a time when her life was beginning to make sense.
She was in secret discussions with Tony Blair, then leader of the opposition, about becoming a roving ambassador; her divorce was finalised on July 4 ; and she had a new sense of purpose, symbolised by her decision to sell her collection of gowns at a charity auction in New York.
She kept his picture by her bedside, read the Koran each night and introduced Dr Khan to her children. She believed that she and Hasnat could open hospitals for children with heart conditions or hospices on an international scale.
Jemima Khan, the socialite, told Vanity Fair that one reason they became friends was her own marriage to Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketer, now politician. While the prospect of making a new life with him was a tantalising vision, her single-minded focus was unnerving for the unassuming surgeon.