`Queen of Hearts' quits as patron of 100 charities


JUST 24 hours after she was granted her decree nisi, the aspirations of the Princess of Wales to become the "Queen of Hearts" ended yesterday with the announcement that she was to resign her position as patron of almost loo charities.

Many of the charities, which only learned of Princess Diana's decision through the media, publicly expressed their shock and confusion at her sudden abandonment of causes, which she has claimed as "dear to my heart" for over a decade.

Princess Diana, who also once insisted that she would put duty to her charities before her marital problems, will now remain patron to only six organisations the National Aids Trust Centrepoint, which provides shelter for the homeless Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children the Royal Marsden Hospital the Leprosy Mission and the English National Ballet.

Royal watchers believe Princess Diana was forced to make this "shock" announcement because of the cost of running her private office and her fear that she may be forced to move from St James' Palace after her divorce becomes absolute next month.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman was among the few who did not express surprise at the Princess of Wales' decision. "We fully understand it," he stressed.

According to sources close to Princess Diana, she believes that Buckingham Palace's decision to strip her of her "HRH" title following the divorce settlement has affected her status and she wanted her charities to be free to seek another royal patron now that she is no longer technically a member of the royal family.

It is understood that the princess reached her decision "with great sadness" in a letter to the charities, Princess Diana reflects her own uncertainty about her future stating she feels that she will be unable to offer the organisations the level of commitment they require.

Amongst those charities that the princess is severing her links with are Relate, the marriage guidance organisation, Help the Aged, Barnardos, and the Parkinson's Disease Society.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was her decision to resign as vice president of the British Red Cross because her role was to have been expanded to be a senior global ambassador for the charity, fulfilling her dreams of becoming the "Queen of Hearts".

Mr John Mayo, the director general of Help the Aged, said it would be hard to replace Princess Diana, who had quadrupled the charity's income during her 10 year patronage.

"Over the decade in which she has been our patron, the Princess of Wales has brought light and hope to the lives of thousands of older people, both at home and abroad," he added.

A spokeswoman for Relate said the princess had indicated that she was keen to retain an interest in the organisation's marriage counselling. "We are grateful for her past patronage and would like to offer her every good wish for the future," she added.

The senior director of Barnardos expressed his "great regret" at losing the presidency of the Princess of Wales and the weight she lent to the charity's work with children.

Mr Roger Singleton said. "She has been of enormous service to the charity's work and it is with much sadness that Barnardos learn she will no longer be able to continue her support." He said she had brought hope and excitement to many children, young people and families.