LONDON – Princess Diana denied any intention of marrying Dodi Fayed in a conversation just a few days before the couple died, a friend testified Monday.
Lady Annabel Goldsmith, testifying at the British inquest into the couple's deaths, said Diana had remarked that she needed another marriage "like a rash on my face."
Goldsmith, 73, said she would never forget those words because they were the last she had heard from Diana.
Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, has claimed the couple was the target of a plot directed by Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip — partly motivated, he alleges, by a desire to prevent Diana from marrying a Muslim.
Al Fayed says Diana and his son were on the brink of announcing their engagement when they died on Aug. 31, 1997.
French and British police blamed the accident on their driver, Henri Paul, based on evidence that he was over the legal alcohol limit and was driving more than 60 miles per hour (96 kph) when the car slammed into a concrete pillar. Paul also died in the crash.
Goldsmith said Monday that Diana clearly was having a "wonderful" time with Fayed, reporting that she had "never been so spoiled."
Reflecting on Diana's comment about a rash, Goldsmith testified:
"I took it to mean that she was not serious about marriage to Dodi. She might have been having a wonderful time with him, I'm sure, but I thought her remark that she needed marriage like a rash meant that she was not serious about it."
Other witnesses have questioned whether the romance had developed to the stage of an intention to marry.
Diana's friend Rosa Monckton last week testified that it was "difficult to judge" the intensity of Diana's romance with Fayed, but Monckton said "it was clear to me that she was really missing Hasnat" Khan, a heart surgeon with whom she had had an affair.
Monckton testified that Diana said nothing of an engagement during a telephone conversation on Aug. 27.
"She would have called me if she was going to do that," Monckton said.
Monckton also disputed Al Fayed's claim that Diana was pregnant. She said Diana had had her period during a holiday the two women shared in Greece 10 days before the princess died.
Goldsmith also rejected the pregnancy claim.
"I would say 'impossible.' There was a reason for that (belief)," she said.
"I'm confident, on the face of it, that she would not have been" pregnant, Goldsmith said.
Diana's stepmother, Raine, Countess Spencer, testified that she also doubted the couple were engaged but thought it "highly likely" that the relationship could have progressed to marriage.
The countess also doubted that Diana, who "was brought up in quite an old-fashioned way," was pregnant.
"It would have been out of the question for her," she said.