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The Montpelier Plantation and Beach website describes its atmosphere as ‘pure laid-back chic. A 300-year-old sugar plantation that now happily embraces effortless luxury.’ Complete with its own private beach, three restaurants, a 60-foot pool, historic sugar mill and 19 sea-view bungalows, plus a staff of 30, the estate’s social media channels paint an idyllic picture of island life.

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Then under different ownership, Montpelier first hosted the late Diana, Princess of Wales and a young Prince William and Prince Harry in December 1992. While the lure of winter sun has tempted many a vitamin D deprived Brit to the Caribbean, Princess Diana had even greater cause to long for an escape.

A year that the Queen dubbed her ‘annus horribilis’ (and a period soon to be dramatised in Season 5 of The Crown), among its developments was the formal announcement of the separation of Prince Charles and Diana. It’s no wonder Diana sought to put 4,429 miles between herself and the media frenzy back home, opting for a getaway in the company of her friend, Catherine Soames, and her sons. Photos of Diana playing in the waves with her boys, looking cooler than cool with her surfboard and sunglasses, remain some of the most memorable images of the late royal. Hoffman told the Telegraph that ‘Nevis was – and still is to some extent – undiscovered and off the beaten path, so she could have come here without being inundated with paparazzi.’

Some of his current staff were working at the hotel at the time, and remember Diana as ‘down to earth… and very outgoing.’ Hoffman adds: ‘She used to play cricket on Pinneys beach with her boys. It was a last minute arrangement and she didn’t hire out the hotel exclusively for herself… But the restaurant was closed to outside bookings so that no one else could walk in.’ The island clearly still holds a place in the heart of Diana’s sons, as Prince Harry visited Nevis during his official visit to the Caribbean in 2016.

Go further back, however, and the estate’s noteworthy history continues. It was visited by Lord Nelson when he was commander of the Royal Navy’s HMS Boreas, and is where he wed Fanny Nisbet, later Viscountess Nelson, in 1787. ‘Nelson came to the island to protect the sugar industry and befriended the owner of our hotel, Mr Herbert, who introduced him to his niece, Fanny. And romance blossomed,’ Hoffman explained.

Prince William Henry – the future King William IV – gave the bride away and signed as a witness at the wedding. The silk cotton tree beneath under which the couple exchanged vows still stands on the estate today. Despite its romantic beginnings, however, the couple’s marriage was ultimately ill-fated, as they became estranged after Nelson embarked on an affair with Lady Hamilton, wife of the British ambassador to Naples, Sir William Hamilton.

The estate’s history is also inextricably bound up with the slave trade, as Hoffman acknowlegdes, stating: ‘The reality is that you are buying a sugar plantation… But you can’t erase history. It’s what helps guide us in the future.’

For a lucky prospective buyer with £14 million to spare, that future could be yours to create.

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