(published in Uncle John’s “AHH INSPIRING” Bathroom Reader)

Death of a Princess

She was called the “people’s princess.” Beautiful, kind, caring towards common people and the unfortunate, Princess Diana captured the hearts of people around the world. But she was also outspoken and politically active. In the eyes of some very powerful people she was a troublemaker. Her worst offense may have been her love affair with a Muslim, Egyptian millionaire Dodi al-Fayed. When the princess and her lover died in a tragic car crash many were quick to wonder whether it was really an accident.

The deceased: Diana, Princess of Wales

How she died: In the early hours of Sunday, August 31st, 1997, a black Mercedes S280 carrying Princess Diana and her soon-to-be fiancé Dodi al-Fayed left the Paris Ritz Hotel. The pair had just dined and were on their way back to Dodi’s Paris apartment. In the front seat Dodi’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones sat beside the driver, Henri Paul, the deputy chief of security at the Ritz. As usual Diana’s vehicle was pursued by “paparazzi”, tabloid photographers with the reputation of doing anything to get a lucrative photograph. At least one enterprising photographer was snapping pictures from the back of a high-powered motorcycle.

Minutes later the Mercedes entered the Place de L’Alma tunnel. Some eyewitnesses report hearing an explosion, then a crash. Some of the first people to arrive after the crash described a grisly scene—photographers were crowding within inches of the crumpled car, which had hit a support pillar, shooting pictures of the dying princess and the other bloodied victims.

Dodi and Henri Paul had been killed instantly. Diana was taken by ambulance to a French hospital where she died three and-a-half hours after the crash. The only survivor of the crash was Trevor Rees-Jones— the only one in the car who had fastened his seatbelt.

Early reports blamed the crash on the paparazzi. According to stories Henri Paul was driving at high speed trying to evade the photographers, or perhaps was blinded by a flash and swerved into the pillar. An outraged public accused the photographers of not only causing the crash, but interfering with the efforts of rescue personnel. (A doctor who came upon the wreck about a minute after the crash says contrary to the reports the photographers were not obstructing efforts to help the victims.)

Several photographers and a motorcyclist were detained for investigation. The photographers admitted to the chase, but denied any responsibility for causing the crash. According to them the Mercedes had outrun them before they got to the tunnel. They were quickly released.

A blood test on the driver, Henri Paul, raised other possibilities— he had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, as well as the anti-depressant, Prozac. Inexplicably there were also high levels of carbon monoxide.

Was the crash caused by a combination of over-zealous photographers and a drunk driver? For some, including French officials who concluded their investigation two years later, the crash was simply a tragic accident. But for others there remained many unanswered questions.

Unanswered Questions

Was Diana pregnant?

Almost immediately after the crash rumors began to circulate that Diana had been six weeks pregnant with Dodi’s child. She had hinted to the press earlier that she was going to “surprise” them. Could she have been planning to announce her engagement, or her pregnancy— or both? One person who believes both is Dodi’s billionaire businessman father, Mohamed al-Fayed. He has charged that the CIA has tapes from phone taps indicating that Diana was pregnant, and that she and Dodi intended to marry.
An autopsy, which would have revealed the truth, was not performed until her body was returned to England. When asked whether Diana had been pregnant the coroner replied, “No comment.”

Why was there no traffic camera video of the Mercedes?

Paris has one of the most sophisticated video traffic surveillance systems in the world. When Mohamad al-Fayed asked to see the tapes from the seventeen cameras that covered the route the Mercedes took from the Ritz to the tunnel French officials told him no tapes existed for those camera at that time. What would the video have shown?

Why did the Mercedes take an indirect route to Dodi’s apartment?

The tunnel where the Mercedes crashed was not on the most direct route between the Ritz and Dodi’s apartment. An eyewitness reports seeing a car blocking an exit, forcing the Mercedes to take the road through the tunnel.

Was Henri Paul hired to keep Diana and Dodi under surveillance?

A former British intelligence agent claims Henri Paul was an informant for MI6, the British equivalent of the American CIA. There are reports that Paul had multiple bank accounts with balances that are hard to explain, based on his salary as a security officer at the Ritz. Was Paul an expendable part of the network keeping track of Diana and Dodi?

Was Henri Paul really drunk?

According to one expert, to account for the amount of alcohol reportedly in Paul’s blood he would have had to drink the equivalent of 10 ounces of whisky, 8-ll standard drinks, within a few hours before leaving the hotel— uncharacteristic behavior according to his friends and co-workers.

On security camera tapes recorded just before the Mercedes left the hotel Paul does not appear drunk. His co-workers have also testified that he was not drunk, nor did he have a reputation for heavy drinking.

The sole survivor of the crash, Rees-Jones, received head injuries and claims the last he remembers of the night of the crash was leaving the Ritz. He told investigators that Henri Paul did not act drunk at the hotel. As Dodi’s bodyguard Rees-Jones would have had the responsibility to note whether the driver was in a condition to drive safely.

Was the blood test rigged?

Was Henri Paul a scapegoat to blame instead of those really responsible for the crash?

Did Rees-Jones expect trouble?

Rees-Jones was the only person in the Mercedes to be wearing a seatbelt. As a bodyguard whose job it was to protect his employer and be ready for anything, he was the only one in the car who should not have buckled up. Did the former British paratrooper expect trouble?

Was another car involved?

Investigators found evidence that the Mercedes had been grazed by another vehicle just before the crash. Pieces of a tail light and flecks of white paint embedded into the front bumper of the Mercedes probably belonged to a white Fiat Uno, according to the investigators.

Witnesses report seeing a small car cut in front of the Mercedes moments before the crash. Some speculate that the car intentionally slowed down in front of the fast-moving Mercedes as it rounded a slight corner in the tunnel, causing the Henri Paul to swerve. The white Fiat has never been found and questions remain about how it was involved, and why it disappeared.

Was there an explosion in the tunnel before the crash?

Eyewitnesses report hearing a loud bang in the tunnel just before the crash. Others say they saw a bright light, much brighter than made by a photographer’s flash. Was someone trying to disorient or blind the driver of the Mercedes? If either one of those things are true it would virtually prove the crash was not an accident.

Why did it take so long to get Diana to the hospital?

The doctor who came upon the wreck about a minute after the crash quickly noted the conditions of the passengers, then called emergency services. The first ambulance didn’t arrive until fifteen minutes later. Diana was treated at the scene for more than a half-hour after rescue personnel pulled her from the car. The closest hospital with 24-hour emergency service was a few miles away, normally a 5-10 minute drive. The ambulance carrying Diana took forty minutes to reach the hospital, finally arriving almost two hours after the crash.

Conspiracy Theories

Diana was killed by British Intelligence

Richard Tomlinson, a former British intelligence agent claims British Intelligence had the expertise to fake Diana’s crash. He knew of a British plan to assassinate Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic by faking a car crash— similar to the crash that killed Diana. According to that plan the crash would take place in a tunnel, and the driver would be disoriented with a powerful strobe light.

Mohamed al-Fayed has said he is “99.9% certain” Diana and his son were murdered. According to al-Fayed, and others, British and American intelligence agencies had kept Diana under surveillance for years and were following her and Dodi for three months before the crash.

Al-Fayed has stated that he believes British Intelligence killed Diana and Dodi, and that the CIA has documents directly implicating Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband. According to al-Fayed a document quotes Philip as saying of the relationship between Diana and Dodi, “Such an affair is racially and morally repugnant and no son of a Bedouin camel trader is fit for the mother of a future king.”

In many ways Diana was an annoyance to the Royal Family and its supporters. After the end of her “fairy tale” marriage to Prince Charles she aired her uncomplimentary views of the Queen, her former husband and the rest of the Royal Family in the press. Diana had the public on her side, and the public was taking Diana’s side against the Royals. Some felt Diana was a real threat to the Monarchy. Maybe her intent to marry Dodi al-Fayed was the last straw.

Diana was killed by the CIA

Mohamad al-Fayed claims the CIA has a secret dossier of more than 1000 pages on Diana. Diana personally campaigned against the use of landmines, visiting injured victims in Angola and Bosnia. Her high-profile involvement led to an international treaty banning landmines which has been ratified by 125 nations. The U.S., a major producer of landmines, (along with Russia, India and China) has not signed the treaty. Diana was a nuisance to the American arms industry, but enough so that she would have been targeted for assassination?

Diana was killed by Israeli agents

England, along with the U.S., has been a strong supporter of Israel in the ongoing conflicts between that country and its Arab neighbors. Diana was the mother of a future king of England, Prince William. If she married an Egyptian, gave birth to half-Arab children, and even possibly became a Muslim, public opinion and official policy could have turned against Israel.

Diana faked her own death to escape from public life

Hope springs eternal in the hearts of some. In spite of overwhelming evidence that Diana died in the crash some believe that she wanted so badly to escape the pressures of her public life and the harassment of the journalists that followed her every move that she faked her own death, and now is somewhere living in blissful anonymity. Could the driver of the Mercedes have dropped them off somewhere before the tunnel? The army-trained bodyguard, Rees-Jones, may have had the expertise to make a switch.

Others believe Diana planned to fake her death, but something went wrong and the plan backfired.

Will We Ever Know?

The death of Princess Diane shocked the world more than any since that of John F. Kennedy. Both were popular with promising futures, and both died before their time. JFK was clearly assassinated— perhaps Diana was also. There will always be those who wonder whether we really know the truth.

copyright©Jim McCluskey 2002-2012


Death of a Princess — 3 Comments

  1. How do we know that Princess Diana is really dead. Did anyone see her body, her brother, her sister, her husband, her sons, anyone? No, I bet not. All we have to go on is some forensic dna sample which may have not even been her blood. She could have faked her death to get away from the Circus and the monster she thought Charles was. Im sure she did not want to leave her sons but was afraid she, herself would be assassinated, for all the inside information she knew on the Royal family. I read, she walked from the automobile she crashed in to the anmbulance, so I;m not truly believing she died from a natural heart attack. She may have been given a shot to cause one to occur but Im must not believing this story, the more I read about it. I saw a woman who looked like Diana, in the back row, at the Royal Wedding of William and kate and she strongly resembled Princess Diana.

  2. I mean she was standing in the back row, behind a balding chorister, wearing a dark plum coloured suit and hat. It looked very similar to diana.

  3. This is really tragic. Am pretty sure she and dodi were murdered and they want to put the blame on henri paul,I pity paul’s family for they re just slandering the poor man’s name. She and her love were to be killed and dey succeeded in their mission.