August 19, 2002 01:00 PM

As the fifth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana approaches at the end of the month, a new book by one of her police bodyguards reveals that in March 1993 Diana reputedly leapt 20 feet off her hotel balcony to avoid being seen during some kind of a late-night escapade at an Austrian ski resort. “Directly beneath her balcony I found a perfect impression of the princess’s body in the deep snow. Footprints led away into the town,” Ken Wharfe writes in his “Diana: Closely Guarded Secret,” which over the weekend was excerpted in the Sunday Times of London, reports Reuters. Later explaining her action to Wharfe, who was her personal protection officer from 1988-93, Diana said (according to the book): “Ken, I just needed some air. Yes, I did jump from the balcony. I knew it was okay — it was deep, soft snow, and I knew it would be all right.” Overall, Wharfe’s remembrance is a sympathetic portrait of the troubled princess. In another incident, which occurred in 1992, he recalls, Diana disappeared on a yacht she was sharing with Charles and guests. “There was a real fear that she had jumped overboard … Panic set in,” writes Wharfe, who “then remembered that Diana had spent some time by the lifeboats, and (I) went to investigate. In one, crouched beneath the canvas cover in floods of tears, I found the princess. She had been sitting there for two hours, sobbing.” She later revealed to him that the cause of her tears was her husband’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.

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