Beauty and the Beach

updated 01/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

DEAR CHARLES, WEATHER GREAT. Boys fine. Having a great time. Glad you're not here. Di. OK, so she didn't send the card. But after spending a dreary Christmas without her sons, who celebrated the holiday with their father and the Queen, she might have been forgiven the urge. Last week, though, Princess Di seemed to discover the perfect antidote to her holiday blues: seven days on the Caribbean island of Nevis with sons William, 10, Harry, 8, close friend divorcée Catherine Soames and her son, Harry, 9.

Once settled in at the posh Montpelier Plantation Inn, Diana struck a deal with pursuing lensmen: She would give them brief photo access in the morning in exchange for peace and freedom the rest of the day. The result: a series of stunning fun-in-the-sun photos of Di, bikinied and otherwise. Naturally the pictures were big news at home. "The down-cast eyes, soulful expressions and painful thinness have been replaced by exuberant laughter and a more curvy figure," noted the Daily Express. "The onetime bulimia sufferer looks as if she is celebrating the sheer joy of being alive." Or, at the very least, Prince-less.

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