The tragic death of Princess Diana is a mystery – not perhaps because of conspiracy nor because it is unusual for people to die in car accidents. It is a mystery because so many millions of people from around the world still believe that it is.
Why do people feel as they do? Some will answer that the “convenience” of her death is too much to be a coincidence while others may simply be unable to accept that such a prominent, almost iconic, heroine could die in a way so pointless.
The simple truth is that many people just feel that there are still far too many unanswered questions.
Princess Diana as she was known to the British public and, to a lesser extent, the world will be remembered by history. While her actual personal achievements were modest, her media impact can only be described as a global phenomenon rivalling that of Marilyn Monroe who also died in mysterious circumstances
Born Diana Frances Spencer, she was the youngest daughter of Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp and his first wife, Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp, nee the Honourable Frances Burke Roche.
At a fairly young age Diana experienced the unpleasant divorce of her parents based on her mother’s apparent affair with Peter Kydd. Although Diana originally stayed with her mother in Knightsbridge, London, following an unpleasant divorce, her custody was later transferred to her father.
Her engagement to Prince Charles became official on the 24 February 1981 and they were married at St Paul’s Cathedral on the 29 July 1981. Diana Spencer thus became Diana, Princess of Wales. Millions of people, captivated by the shear romance of the event, watched the wedding either live or on the television. It marked a new chapter in the history of the British monarchy. It turned out to be a turbulent one that would batter the House of Windsor with wave after wave of negative publicity.
As report after report emerged it seemed that Princess Diana’s marriage was not a happy one and as rumour became likely-reality and then fact, the British media and international paparazzi began to resemble a pack of wolves and hounded the Royals – something they had never done to this extent before.
Allegations of adultery, psychological illness and bizarre behaviour plagued Princess Diana. Charles too was scrutinised and his relationship with Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles became increasingly exposed. His popularity fell as did hers. Discussions suggesting that Charles should never ascend to the throne and should pass the crown straight to Prince William were common in British households.
On 24 November 1992 The Queen gave a speech at Guildhall to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession. In it The Queen referred to recent events as part of an ‘annus horribilis’. (A Horrible Year) (Report: British Monarchy Media Centre)
As each year passed the media circus increased thus adding even more pressure to the doomed marriage. Each report on the lives of Princess Diana and Prince Charles became more damning. In the end, divorce! On the 15th of July 1996 the divorce of Princess Diana and Prince Charles was finalised in the High Court. Critically, Diana was allowed to retain the title “Princess of Wales.”
No matter what has been “spun” by the media, one can only speculate about how Princess Diana really felt about the divorce. The terms were allegedly very restrictive although it appears she ignored many of them. In a psychological sense, she must have had many mixed emotions.
It was likely that she hoped, now her marriage to the future King of England was over, she would be allowed to regain some aspects of a normal life. If so – she was wrong
Still the press and media pursued her so they could report on her activities. She sold newspapers. For Princess Diana it was a love hate relationship she had sometimes used and encouraged while at other times she despised. There is no doubt that at times she must have despaired of ever having private life again. A little over a year later Diana, Princess of Wales, was dead.
How the Events Unfolded
Officially, Princess Diana left the Hotel Ritz in Paris at 12.30 am on 31 August 1997 together with her boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, their driver Henri Paul, and their security bodyguard, Trevor Rees Jones. The used the rear exist of the hotel to avoid the Paparazzi and drove swiftly away in a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz S280 (registration no. 688 LTV 75).
The paparazzi found out what was happening and pursued the car until it reached the Pont de d’Alma road tunnel. Exactly what happened next is uncertain as a critical road camera had malfunctioned. It appears that the Mercedes may have clipped an unidentified white Fiat Uno and lost control. Seconds later it crashed head-on into Pillar 13 and spun out of control until it came to a rest against the tunnel wall.
The paparazzi, who had been following the vehicle, arrived at the Alma underpass at different times. The first to arrive were probably Serge Arnal, Christian Martinez and Stéphane Darmon soon followed by Serge Benhamou. From the moment they arrived they took photos of the crash. Many of these have never been seen by the public.
According to official reports Dodi Al-Fayed and the driver Henri Paul were killed instantly. Diana was thrown violently around the interior the car and then slid forward under the front seats thus sustaining serious internal injuries including damage to her heart. It took a considerable time for emergency services to get her out of the car and during the race to the hospital Pitié-Salpêtrière she suffered two heart attacks. After many attempts at resuscitation failed, she was pronounced dead at 4 a.m. local time.
Although Trevor Rees-Jones, the bodyguard, was nearest to the point of impact he was the only one to survive the crash.
What exactly happened in the underpass remains unknown as there is no actual visual recording of the incident. This and other factors have led to persistent questions being asked.
Scott Baker Inquest
In the words of Lord Justice Scott Baker, who headed up the most in-depth inquest into the Death of Diana:
“Why, you may ask, are we doing this 10-years after the event? Because memories fade, possible witnesses have died or disappeared and, uniquely to this case, quite literally millions of words have been written by a great many people expressing views on what did or did not happen.” (Report from: www.scottbaker-inquests.gov.uk.”)
The Scott Baker inquiry genuinely seemed to be tackling the more difficult issues surrounding her death and have kindly permitted material displayed on their official website to be reproduced.
The Scott Baker Inquiry listed twenty “issues” or unanswered questions. These were:
- Whether driver error on the part of Henri Paul caused or contributed to the cause of the collision.
- Whether Henri Paul’s ability to drive was impaired through drink or drugs.
- Whether a Fiat Uno or any other vehicle caused or contributed to the collision.
- Whether the actions of the Paparazzi caused or contributed to the cause of the collision.
- Whether the road/tunnel layout and construction were inherently dangerous and if so whether this contributed to the collision.
- Whether any bright/flashing lights contributed to or caused the collision and, if so, their source.
- Whose decision it was that the Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed should leave from the rear entrance to the Ritz and that Henri Paul should drive the vehicle.
- Henri Paul’s movements between 7 and 10 pm on 30 August 1997.
- The explanation for the money in Henri Paul’s possession on 30 August 1997 and in his bank account.
- Whether Andanson was in Paris on the night of the collision.
- Whether the Princess of Wales’ life would have been saved if she had reached hospital sooner or if her medical treatment had been different.
- Whether the Princess of Wales (Diana*) was pregnant.
- Whether the Princess of Wales (Diana*) and Dodi Al Fayed were about to announce their engagement.
- Whether and, if so in what circumstances, the Princess of Wales (Diana*) feared for her life.
- The circumstances relating to the purchase of the ring.
- The circumstances in which the Princess of Wales’ (Diana*) body was embalmed.
- Whether the evidence of Tomlinson throws any light on the collision.
- Whether the British or any other security services had any involvement in the collision.
- Whether there was anything sinister about (i) the Cherruault burglary or (ii) the disturbance at the Big Pictures agency.
- Whether correspondence belonging to the Princess of Wales (Diana*) (including some from Prince Philip) has disappeared, and if so the circumstances.
(report source: www.scottbaker-inquests.gov.uk.)
These questions were good! They did tackle many of the concerns that a worldwide public seem to be aware of with regard to the death of Diana. Were they satisfactorily answered? In most cases the public feels they were not.
For example: Whether the British or any other security services had any involvement in the collision?
How was this question answered? They asked the head of the British Secret Services, Sir Richard Billing Dearlove, if MI6 (SIS) was involved. He said no. That was enough – question closed. However, Sir Michael Jay, The British Ambassador to France when the crash occurred, did admit that there was an MI6 team at the Paris embassy at the time of the incident but said he didn’t believe they had anything to do with the case. Some people feel that this is preposterous and should have been investigated further – but it seems that it wasn’t.
MORE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
Question: Why did Henri Paul use the route that he did when a better one would have avoided the tunnel?
Question: Why did the British Government wait 10 years before a formal inquest?
Question: Is it true that the RAF team, that flew Tony Blair from his constituency of Sedgewick to meet the Princesses body in London, had actually been put on standby two days before – while the Princess was still alive?
Question: Is it true that two diplomats working for the secret intelligence service MI6 were operating at the British Embassy in Paris during the weeks before Diana’s death? What was their reason for being in Paris?
Question: Why was British Government protection of Diana allegedly withdrawn after her divorce from Prince Charles – she was still the mother of the future king of England?
Question: Were the cameras in the tunnel out-of-order? If they weren’t working, then what were the circumstances surrounding their failure?
Question: Would it have been possible to switch the blood samples from Henri Paul? If so, is there a “certain” way to retest perhaps using DNA to verify the sample?
Question: What is the hand gesture she is making in the photograph produced – Sunday People 15-02-1998 Shown on the Official inquest site?
Question: Report Question: Is it true that Rees-Jones, an apparently broken man after the crash, was soon appointed to a high-powered security job with the United Nations.
Question: Why didn’t they wear seatbelts?
Question: Why did the bodyguards, Trevor Rees-Jones and Kez Wingfield allow Henri Paul to drive the car?
Question: Is it true that Jean-Paul Andanson, the alleged owner of a mysterious white Fat Uno and whose almost unidentifiable body was found in a burnt-out car in the woods near Nantes, an apparent suicide by fire, also had a bullet hole in his head?
Question: Is it true that a week prior to the crash in the Point d’Alma Tunnel the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) conducted a dress rehearsal funeral for a member of the royal family?
Question: Is it true that Sir Robert Fellowes (currently Lord Fellowes) and once private secretary to the Queen and brother-in-law to Princess Diana was seen at the British Embassy in Paris on the night of the accident and did he insist that the regular wireless operator leave his post?
Question: Why did Sir Elton John use the song “Candle in the Wind” a song about Marylyn Monroe, another remarkable woman who also died in mysterious circumstances, to reflect on the life and death of Princess Diana?
At the time, Princess Diana’s funeral on 6 September 1997 was broadcast and watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide. The outpouring of grief was enormous, and the outrage of the public could be felt everywhere.
Today, so many years later, it has become fashionable to be dismissive of the event almost as if people are embarrassed that they had shown so much emotion. The world has moved on and the word “conspiracy” has been used so much in connection with this mystery that to even discuss it today seems to class the speaker as part of the lunatic fringe. How convenient that would be if there really was a conspiracy.
One last thought about this mystery is this; Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul all had people who loved them. They were all human beings not objects. Their parents, children, siblings, and friends certainly all have the right to know the truth. They also have a moral right, ignored as it so often has been, to the understanding of the general public that this was real. These people died. They are gone forever. No matter whether they were good or bad, no matter what happened, nothing will bring them back.
* The name “Diana” has been added to avoid confusion.