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DI MAY HAVE TO APPEAR AS WITNESS IN LIBEL TRIAL

Britain's Princess Diana may have to appear in court as a witness if a dashing army major goes ahead with a libel action over allegations about their friendship, newspapers said Friday.

Newspapers also suggested that Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth's divorced daughter, would soon marry a naval officer, 37-year-old Commander Tim Lau-rence.Diana's friend Maj. James Hewitt, 34, issued a writ for libel against the publishers of the Sun newspaper "because of the scandalous nature of the false allegations made about him" this week.

Hewitt, who taught the princess how to ride, has been named in stories alleging that Diana's marriage with Prince Charles, heir to the throne, is in tatters.

Newspapers immediately speculated that Diana could be called to give evidence.

Libel lawyer Brian Hepworth was quoted as saying: "Only the queen is above the law and could not be subpoenaed."

It was, however, thought that Hewitt, a polo-playing veteran of the gulf war, would not want to embarrass the princess by compelling her to go into the witness box.

The Sun said the source of its stories was a former girlfriend of Hewitt, who blamed his friendship with Diana for the collapse of their own relationship.