A former French president has caused a literary storm by writing a fictional romance between a thinly disguised Diana, Princess of Wales, and himself.
Valery Giscard d’Estaing is the statesman behind the novel that has generated strong reactions in his home country after excerpts were published yesterday in a national newspaper.
Some commentators have speculated whether there is any truth behind the work while others have ridiculed it.
'The Princess And The President', published next month, is a steamy romance based around a secret affair between Patricia – or Lady Pat – Princess of Cardiff, and President Jacques-Henri Lambertye, the book’s narrator.
The Princess is in a loveless marriage while the French leader is a widow and the pair meet at Buckingham Palace during a G7 dinner.
In the book 'Lady Pat' echoes Diana’s famous 1995 television admission that “there were three of us in this marriage” – a reference to Camilla Parker Bowles, the then mistress of her husband the Prince of Wales.
The Princess tells her French admirer: “A dozen days before my wedding, my future husband came and told me that he had a mistress and that he had decided to carry on seeing her after our marriage.”
Another similarity sees Lady Pat spending her time doing charitable work for HIV victims and landmine charities, as did Diana.
In the book Lambertye seduces the royal after they attend events to commemorate the Second World War D-day landings and the affair takes place on both sides of the English Channel in palaces and chateaux.
Giscard, 83, served as France’s President from 1974 to 1981, and met Diana on a number of occasions but was voted out of office just before she married Charles.
A cryptic message he has written at the beginning of the book has added to the speculation the story may have an element of truth.
He states “Promise kept”, while, at the end of the book, he writes: “You asked my permission for you to write your story,” she told me. “I give you it, but you must make me a promise...”