Princess Diana asked priest if she could wed a Muslim Dodi in church
An Anglican priest has recalled how he was asked by Princess Diana if she could marry her Muslim boyfriend Dodi Fayed in a church yards from Kensington Palace.
Father Frank Gelli spoke with an excited Diana shortly before the fateful crash in a Paris underpass on August 31, 1997.
At the time he was curate of St Mary Abbots church in Kensington, west London, near her former home at Kensington Palace.
Princess Diana started going to the church a few months before she died, slipping in at the back during services and trying to keep a low profile.
Recalling one conversation, Fr Gelli told how she stopped to speak to him on the way to the gym.
He said: “She wanted to know if it was possible for two people of different religions to marry. I told her it was.
“As we spoke her telephone rang. It was obviously Dodi. Her eyes lit up. As she was leaving she asked me if I would be able to perform the service when she got married. Her love was obvious.”
While on holiday cruising the Mediterranean on Mohamed Fayed’s yacht, the Jonikal, she called Fr Gelli and said: “I have good news.”
She asked him to meet her at Kensington Palace when she returned, but days later in Paris she died along with Dodi, 41, in the crash.
Italian-born Fr Gelli said: “I feel sure that if Diana and Dodi had not been killed, they would have married.
“Diana was so very happy and very much in love. She was looking forward to the future.”
She wanted to know if it was possible for two people of different religions to marry. I told her it was
Father Frank Gelli
When he first spoke out three years after her death he said he was not betraying her trust.
His belief that the world’s most famous woman was considering getting married at his church caused considerable tension in the heirarchy of the Church of England which faced having to say whether Dodi, as a Muslim, could marry in a church.
During his eight years in Kensington, Fr Gelli gained the trust of businessmen and politicians.
Friends of Diana said she liked his outgoing, confident personality and his ability to listen.
Even though she asked him to call her Diana, he insisted on calling her Your Highness.
He felt she was looking for Christian approval for a wedding with a Muslim man.
As he had spent some years in Turkey the Princess was keen to know his impressions on the lifestyles of Muslims, particularly how women are treated in Islamic society.
“She seemed impressed by the respect she got from Dodi,” he said. “She felt he could take care of her and offer her the love and security she had never really known.
“Diana was a warm person who craved affection. I think she found that with Dodi.
“She told me how fond Dodi was of her children – and how much they enjoyed his company. That meant a great deal to her.”
On anniversaries of her death, Fr Gelli held services among the crowds gathering outside Kensington Palace. At one service he said: “Princess Diana was a wonderful, caring philanthropist.
“She would come sometimes into the church and sit at the back and pray.”
He always urged people to pray for the couple and also for Princes William and Harry.
Fr Gelli said: “I will be holding a service of some sort later this month, but I am not sure where it will be yet.
“Although many years have passed the good work she did is still very important to people and we should celebrate that. She really was an extraordinary woman.”
The Anglican priest grew up in Rome. He holds degrees in theology, education and Islamic studies from London and Oxford universities. Now he works as a guide for tourists in London and lives in Essex.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
Tags: Prince Charles, Celebrate, Theology, Education, Islamic Studies, London, Oxford Universities, Tourists In London, Extraordinary woman, Month, Father Frank Gelli, St Mary Abbots Church, in Kensington, Paris underpass on August 31, 1997