Joan Collins was stunned when her pal, Dodi Fayed, began dating “Shy Di.”
In the summer of 1997, the Egyptian filmmaker became romantically linked to Princess Diana. The Princess of Wales was divorced from then-Prince Charles and had just ended a two-year relationship with surgeon Hasnat Khan.
“I was quite surprised actually,” the “Dynasty” star told Fox News Digital. “[Dodi and I] were sitting on a plane next to each other from LA to London. I said, ‘Why are you going to London?’ He said, ‘To find a new girlfriend.’ I said, ‘You’ve got a girlfriend! I met her.’ He said, ‘I’m going to find another one.'”
“I just laughed – didn’t think anything of it,” Collins added.
The 90-year-old has written a new memoir, “Behind the Shoulder Pads: Tales I Tell My Friends,” which details her life and career in Hollywood. In it, she recalls her encounters with the British royal family.
Dodi and Diana’s short-lived romance will be chronicled in the new season of “The Crown,” which will be available for streaming on Netflix Nov. 16.
Collins noted to Fox News Digital that she wasn’t expecting the courtship, as Dodi was known for his clubbing days, a far cry from Diana’s more demure life in Kensington Palace.
“I had known Dodi for years, as he was a regular at Tramp, the nightclub co-owned by Johnny Gold and Oscar Lerman,” Collins wrote.
In the book, when husband no. 3 Ron Kass told Collins one time that he asked Dodi to stay with them, Collins quipped, “Isn’t he Mohamed Al-Fayed’s son? The one who does coke?”
Weeks after she sat with Dodi, tabloids published photos of him with Diana.
In July 1997, the couple spent time together in the south of France on a yacht owned by Dodi’s father, a billionaire businessman. Paparazzi stalked the pair as they continued to spend time together yachting in the Mediterranean.
While the couple was an unlikely match in Collins’ eyes, she thought the courtship might be good for Diana. Dodi’s great wealth could provide protection for the princess who was trying to find her way after the public breakdown of her marriage.
“I was surprised at just how shy she was,” Collins told Fox News Digital. “She was overwhelmed by all the paparazzi. I remember we were at an event in Palm Beach in the late ‘80s. It was a charity benefit given by Armand Hammer. She said to me, ‘Oh, I’m never going to get used to this. It’s just terrifying. They follow me everywhere.’ I said, ‘Yes you will – you will one day.’ She said, ‘It’s horrid. I don’t know if I will.’”
Collins admitted she wondered if Diana would have been happy with Dodi as she embarked on a new life.
On Aug. 30, 1997, Diana and Dodi traveled to Paris. In the early hours of Aug. 31, they left the Ritz, where they had dinner, and headed for Dodi’s apartment. The hotel was owned by Dodi’s father.
The day had already been tense as paparazzi had been following them.
They were in the backseat of a black Mercedes driven by Henri Paul, who served as director of security for the Ritz. The trio was accompanied by Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who was in the front passenger seat.
The car drove at a high speed as it attempted to evade paparazzi hounding them. Several motorcycles tailed behind them. In the tunnel beside the Place de I’Alma, the vehicle crashed head-on into a concrete column.
Witnesses said the crash sounded like an explosion, followed by an insistent blare of a car horn set off by the driver’s slumped body. The clicking of camera shutters intensified as photographers swarmed the wreckage.
Paul, 41, and Dodi, 42, were killed instantly. Diana was still alive when she was transported to a Paris hospital. The princess later died from her extensive injuries. The mother of two was 36. Rees-Jones suffered a serious head injury, but survived.
Prosecutors said autopsy blood tests showed Paul was legally drunk.
“We cried for three days,” Collins admitted to Fox News Digital. “I was very upset. I was in the south of France [when it happened]. I really thought [Diana] was great for the monarchy. As much as I loved the queen, I also felt she brought a new breath of life to them. She was good for the next generation. She sent me wonderful letters. And she was very, very sweet. It was awful.”
In 2015, Collins became a dame by the former Prince Charles, the BBC reported. In the book, she recalled her meetings with Queen Elizabeth II. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch passed away in 2022 at age 96. Charles, 75, was crowned king in May of this year.
“What surprised me about the queen was just how adorable and down to earth she was,” said Collins. “She was just a paragon of perfection, really. She never put a foot wrong in any way, shape or form. She was just so knowledgeable about theater.”
“I met her several times from the 1960s onward,” Collins shared. “I had a conversation with her at Buckingham Palace about eight, nine years ago… She had a glass full of white liquid, a pale liquid.”
“I wanted to ask, ‘Ma’am, is that water or gin?’” Collins chuckled. “But I didn’t ask.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.