So, Lady Diane Spencer did join Prince Charles to help celebrate his 32nd birthday after all. She spent the weekend with him, the queen and other members of the royal family at their Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
All of Britain now knows, because determined newsmen from the tabloid presses outside the main gate of Sandringham throughout the wet, windy weekend and were rewarded by the sight of Lady Diana driving away in a red Austin Mini Metro escorted by a police car.
The most intrepid reporters pieced together interviews with the local gentry on how Lady Diana had sneaked into Sandringham through back roads Friday night with the assistance of the estate's manager. Her old car was left in London as a decoy for the crowd of newsmen who had staked out her apartment building. It was given a parking ticket while she was away.
Lady Diana spent the weekend at Prince Charles' side during family meals, walking with Queen Elizabeth II while the prince went pheasant hunting, and joining him and the family for a private film showing. All of this was revealed in stories about "Lady Diana's lovely weekend" that dominated the front pages of Britain's most popular newspapers yesterday morning.
Lady Diana remained storically silent as she lugged her large suitcase past a waiting crowd of reporters and photgraphers back into her apartment house Sunday night. Confronted by them again when she left home yesterday morning for her job as a kindergarten teacher, she said only "I'm going to work."
But the prince was playful with the newsmen manning the stakeout at Sandringham. As Lady Diana apparently was being smuggled onto the estate, Charles made a show of going and coming through the main entrance alone with his dog and bodyguard.
"Can't I even take my dog for a walk in peace?" he asked the huddled refugees from Fleet Street. "Why don't you all go home to your wives?"
"I know you were expecting some news Friday, and I know you were disappointed," he said, refering to the rumors that he would marry Lady Diana, the 19-year-old daughter of a landed earl, making her the future queen. d
But the teasing prince then added: "You will be told soon enough."
Those words and Lady Diana's inclusion in several royal family occcasions lead the tabloid gossips to conclude that it is only a matter of time.