March 25, 1996 12:00 PM

OH, TO BE IN ENGLAND, NOW THAT April’s there—almost. The daffodils are in bloom, and yet another scandal has sprouted in Princess Diana’s emotional garden. This time the attention is on her friendship with Will Carling, 30, captain of England’s rugby team—until his resignation last weekend. Friendship, indeed! Though the princess, through a friend, has denied she was romantically or sexually involved with Carling, the sports star’s estranged, and enraged, wife is being quoted indirectly by the British press as saying that, yes, Will had his way with Di.

“I feel so betrayed and let down. Will made me look so stupid,” is how the Daily Mirror, quoting “a close friend,” reported Julia Carling’s feelings. Six months ago, according to the friend, Will abandoned nearly two months of stonewalling concerning his purported involvement with Di to admit to his wife, privately, that he and the 34-year-old princess had had an affair.

At that time, Carling reportedly promised Julia he wouldn’t see Diana again. Days later, when tabloid photographers snapped him leaving a London health club with Di, Julia, 31, a public-relations executive turned TV host, drop-kicked Carling out of the house. But it wasn’t until Julia, in an interview in the April issue of the glossy Tatler magazine, told of her shock and dismay over her husband’s duplicity that the Fleet Street fireworks erupted.

“Everyone tells you not to do something because the media will take it in a certain way,” Will Carling told another magazine, Radio Times, last week about his ties to Di. “I thought, ‘Why in hell should I be told how to live my life?’ ” But as for a royal romance, he said, “I’m not saying anything. She’s a good friend. Well, she was.”

Julia, who is set to file for divorce, has said that she will not name Di as the Other Woman, but the rumored affair once again blots Diana’s reputation as she campaigns to remain the Princess of Wales after her divorce. If Prince Charles’s supporters had plotted this latest embarrassment themselves, they could not have done more damage.

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