LONDON -- It's been some month for Diana, Princess of Wales.
She took three Mediterranean cruises with her millionaire friend, Dodi Al Fayed, squeezed in a trip to Bosnia to tout her favored cause -- banning land mines -- and then entered the British political fray during a daring interview that appeared yesterday in the French newspaper, Le Monde.
And today marks the first anniversary of her divorce from Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.
Diana's latest interview landed her in hot water when she was quoted as praising the British Labor government's support for her campaign against land mines.
"Its [the Labor Party's] position on this subject has always been clear. It is going to do great work," Diana was quoted as saying in Le Monde.
She added that Labor's "predecessor was really hopeless," a jab at the Conservative government of former British Prime Minister John Major.
In Britain, royals are emphatically supposed to refrain from expressing political opinion, so Diana's dig created a furor. As controversy over the interview swelled yesterday, Diana's office at Kensington Palace issued a rather tardy denial.
"The Princess made no such criticism," a spokesman said. "Her stance on the question of land mines has been apolitical throughout. Her concerns are exclusively humanitarian."
Le Monde stood by the story.
"She is beginning to try the patience of the British people," Conservative Member of Parliament David Wilshire told the British Broadcasting Corp.
"I think it's really seriously dangerous to drag the royal family into party politics," he added. "I don't think we ought to allow one young to coming up middle-aged woman to alter the entire British constitution single-handed."
A former Tory MP, Sir James Hill, said: "I do wish she would keep quiet and she would not seek so much publicity.
"She could have been a Hollywood movie star for the way she attracts publicity," Hill told Britain's Press Association. "Whether she does it unconsciously or with a view of getting the headlines, I don't know, but she cannot side with one particular government any more than the prince of Wales can."
Diana fired off a few more salvos during the Le Monde interview, which was conducted in late June.
She labeled the British press as "ferocious."
"It never forgives anything, it is only interested in mistakes," she said. "Every good intention is diverted, every gesture is criticized."
"I believe that abroad it is different. There I am received with kindness, they take me as I am, without judgment, without lying in wait for slip-ups."
Diana said she would have left Britain long ago, but has remained here for the sake of her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.
She revealed a newfound freedom since the divorce, saying, "No one can tell me how to behave. I work by instinct. That is my best adviser."
She says she fills a role as a "messenger," and claims that she disturbs people in "some circles" because she is "too close to the people."
"I have a real relationship with the most humble people," she said.
The interviewer steered clear of questions about Diana's love life.
Their marriage may be over, but interest remains intense over the love lives of Diana and Charles.
The two have also continued their media struggles, almost from the moment their divorce decree was made final last Aug. 28.
Diana spent her first afternoon as a divorcee at the English National Ballet and wore her diamond and sapphire engagement ring. Charles spent that first day fishing.
Among the highlights of Diana's past 12 months were an audience with Mother Teresa, the auction of 79 of her dresses in New York, an appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair, and anti-mine trips to Angola and Bosnia.
She also dazzled photographers on her summer cruises, in which she was seen snuggling with her apparent new love, Fayed, whose father is the boss of Britain's most famous department store, Harrods.
Diana's trips to a posh London gym also set off the photographers. They liked her attire, a Harvard sweat shirt, cycling pants, and sneakers.
Meanwhile, the year's ceremonial highlight for the Prince of Wales was his presiding over one of the last chapters of the British Empire, the handover of Hong Kong to China.
Charles also met the Spice Girls singing group and got a kiss from Geri -- the sexy Spice.
Recently, Charles was photographed with his sons in Scotland. He wore a kilt.
The Prince of Wales has also been trying to boost public approval of his partner, Camilla Parker Bowles. He threw a lavish 50th birthday party for Parker Bowles and even invited her ex-husband.
Next month, the battle gets serious. Parker Bowles and Diana will be engaged in separate fund-raisers, Parker Bowles for the National Osteoporosis Society, Diana for the Osteopathic Center for Children.
Pub Date: 8/28/97