Australia has always had a strong love for the Princess of Wales, which continues 20 years after her tragic death.
Princess Diana’s visits to the Commonwealth country have been well-documented, but there’s one trip that went under the radar.
However, the royal had a ‘secret’ trip to Australia in 1981 shortly before announcing her engagement to the future King of England.
It’s widely believed that in an effort to clear her head, Diana visited her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, in the regional New South Wales town of Yass.
After marrying Peter Shand Kydd in 1969, Diana’s mother divided her time between London, the Scottish island of Seil, and Yass.
Peter, an heir to a wallpaper fortune in Australia, owned a sheep farm in the rural town.
Many reports say that after Charles proposed at the beginning of February, Diana immediately went to stay with her mother to think it over.
Diana stayed for three weeks in Australia, although Frances denied the media reports at the time.
“Our daughter is certainly on holiday, but not in Australia or the United Kingdom,” she told reporters after saying earlier that Diana was in the Caribbean.
According to UK journalist Tina Brown’s biography The Diana Chronicles, Diana’s trip was because her mother had reservations about the upcoming Royal wedding,
"[She] whisked Diana off to a remote hideout in Australia to throw off the press and make her think more seriously about the momentous step,” Brown writes.
Other reports say that Diana also spent part of her summer month at the family beach house in Mollymook on the NSW South Coast.
Margy Nyholm, who owned the local fish-and-chip shop Beach Hut, told Good Weekend that Diana was a customer of hers over the summer of 1981.
“She was attempting to be incognito, but instead she stood out," Margy revealed.
“She was a very tall girl, young with very white skin. She wore a scarf, big dark glasses and a beach coat.
“She wouldn't make eye contact. There was a fragility about her. A beautiful-looking woman, but not a happy one.”
Prince Charles and Diana eventually announced their engagement together in London on February 24 1981, and a whirlwind relationship ensued.
After their 1983 Royal tour of Australia, the couple visited again in 1985 where they brought newborn Prince Harry, and for a third time in 1988, which coincided with the Bicentennial Australia Day celebrations.
Diana’s final trip was in 1996, where the divorcée was invited to officially open the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
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