08/22/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
Stung by photographers who caught her topless on the Costa del Sol last May, Princess Diana chose secluded Martha's Vineyard for her August getaway. While sons William and Harry were yachting in the Mediterranean with Prince Charles, Di, 33, joined pal Lucia Flecha de Lima, her husband Paulo, Brazil's ambassador to the U.S., and their grown daughters Isabel and Beatrix in Massachusetts. Saying Di had chosen the island partly because Jackie O and the Clintons had been allowed their privacy there, Lucia told a local paper, "She knows you will be protective." Added Di's hostess: "She is very charmed by the Vineyard. She came over the Atlantic because she knows it was one of the few places in the world where she could be surrounded by nice people and it would be hard to be found by the press."
Arriving by private plane on Aug. 4, Diana was whisked away to a rented 19th-century manor with a view of Vineyard Sound. Although she had a trendy red Bronco at her disposal, the princess didn't cruise through Edgartown; instead, she took a secret sail on a yacht owned by Charlotte Inn owner Gerret Conover. On Aug. 6, Conover and his family picked up Di and the De Limas at a secret pier and took them on a 90-minute jaunt through the inner harbor—an excursion that went undetected by reporters hastily dispatched from London and New York City. The dearth of sightings during the visit (expected to last at least 10 days) prompted rumors that Di had gone boating with local salt Walter Cronkite and was heading to Maine on a 130-foot yacht. (A cryptic Cronkite said only, "I am sworn to secrecy") For their part, ultra-discreet residents were not amused by the crush of reporters—certain to repeat itself when the First Couple returns the week of Aug. 21. "We can handle the Clintons or Princess Di, but we can't handle both," cracked summer resident Art Buchwald. "I suggest one of them go to Nantucket."
While Di was out of sight, the Duchess of York was spilling all: This month, she confessed that the August 1992 publication of photos of her cavorting on the Riviera with "financial adviser" John Bryan (shown kissing her bare foot) had been "her most humiliating experience." In a story that appeared in an Australian magazine, Fergie allowed, "During the first years of my marriage I probably had an excessive ego. The St. Tropez photos forced me to change and care more about others than myself. The only thing I could do was turn to prayer and my faith in God and say, 'I'm sorry.' " Still, she added that, on a trip to a desert island, she'd take "my children, of course, the Bible...and a man!" Would that man be Prince Andrew? Although the two exchanged kisses on Aug. 8 at a charity golf game in Surrey, chums say a rematch is unlikely. "They are very good friends, and that is how they wish to remain," a pal told the London Daily Express.
A frail Queen Mum managed a 43-minute walkabout in London on Aug. 4, when the Windsors gathered at Clarence House to celebrate her 94th birthday. Leaning heavily on a cane, the increasingly delicate matriarch (who, it was reported last week, has arranged a trust fund of $19 million for grandsons William and Harry) posed with clan members including heir-to-be William, 12, who tops her 5'2". Her birthday portrait, by Lord Snowdon, was criticized for making her look lined and weary, but the no-nonsense QM pronounced herself "delighted" with the shot.