“I feel this is the most dangerous phase in my life.I feel he’s planning an accident in my car. Brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path.” Admired by all and known to many, Princess Diana of Wales was born on July 1st, 1996. She was part of the British royal family and the first wife of Prince Charles of Wales. In October 1996, she predicted her own death in a letter sent to her butler, Paul Burrell, who had also become a trusted ally to the Princess (Simmons & Hill, 1998). Ten months later, her prediction proved to be true. On the night of August 30, 1997, as Diana and Dodi Fayed made their way from the Ritz Carlton hotel in Paris to Fayed’s apartment, the limousine they were traveling in sped through the Pont D’Alma tunnel, resulting in a fatal crash. Fayed and the limousine driver, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene (Anderson, 1998), however, Diana was still alive. She was then transported to a nearby hospital to be treated and was pronounced dead a few hours later. There are numerous theories and speculations as to what actually happened the night of her death, these include: The intoxication of the limousine driver, her intimate relationship with Dodi Fayed and the absence of a seatbelt.
Various detailed reports, inquiries and experts have all agreed with the official account of the events that took place the night of the crash: Diana had been in a car driven by a driver, Henri Paul, who was under the influence, deeming him the cause of the crash and in turn, the cause of her death. French investigators concluded that Paul was drunk, basing the conclusion on an analysis of blood samples, which were said to contain a blood alcohol level that was around three times the legal limit (Bates, 2008). This meant that Paul was in no shape or form sober enough to drive Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed from the Ritz to Fayed’s apartment. Unhappy with the results, Fayed’s father hired a British pathologist to challenge this preliminary analysis (Myrie, 2008). In response, authorities carried out further tests, this time using fluids from inside the eye, which have been proven to be more medically irrefutable. The tests confirmed the level of alcohol in his system during the time of the crash and moreover, showed traces of antidepressants left in his bloodstream (Bates, 2008).Many have stated that the level of alcohol claimed to have been found in Paul’s blood was inconsistent with his sober behaviour captured by hotel security cameras the night of the crash (Myrie, 2008). According to pathologist Dr. R. Forrest, however, with Paul’s heavy drinking habits and higher tolerance for alcohol, he would have been “…able to appear more sober than he actually was” (Gregory, 2010, p.122). It was later disclosed that further DNA samples confirmed that the blood samples which contained high alcohol levels were indeed from the driver, further proving that the blood tested had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, deeming Paul unfit to operate a vehicle and the cause of the crash (Pierce, 2006).
Despite these reports and investigations, many believe something more secretive happened that night. While the conspiracy theories take a number of forms, they share the same fundamental idea: premeditaed murder. At the time, rumors were circulating, suggesting Princess Diana was pregnant with Fayed’s child and the couple were planning to get engaged. The idea of the marriage, a non-Christian child within the Royal Family, and a relationship between a future king and a prominent Muslim would have not be tolerated. Rumors of a possible pregnancy came up even before Princess Diana died. In fact, during a vacation weeks before the night of the crash, newspaper outlets speculated that the princess might be pregnant, citing the secretive comments Diana made about “a big surprise”. The absence of CCTV footage highlighting the crash also raises speculation. According to The Independent newspaper in 2006, there were more than 15 CCTV cameras around the site of the crash, however no cameras seemed to have caught what happened (Princess Diana, 2018). Further implying that there was a more sinister hand at play that night and that the death of the princess was not a mere accident.
In addition to the theories and causes listed above, another significant factor which may have contributed to the death of the beloved Princess was the assumption that Diana did not have a seat belt on during the crash. Tasked with reviewing and analyzing the emergency response the night of the crash, Prof. Andre Lienhart determined that Princess Diana “…was not wearing a seatbelt and this made things worse. We would like to think that if she had been wearing a seat belt, we’d have been able to save her’ (“DNA Evidence Shows Diana’s Driver Drunk”, 2006). Furthermore, in an analysis of the crash in September 1997, CNN concluded that the injuries experienced by both parties would have been “minor had the occupants been wearing seat belts” (Could a seatbelt have saved Diana?, 1997). Analysis of the wreckage in 2005 as part of Operation Paget, a British investigation launched looking into the conspiracy theories surrounding the crash, found that the limousine’s seatbelts were all in perfect working condition (“DNA Evidence Shows Diana’s Driver Drunk”, 2006). Follow up investigations found that French authorities declared all seat belts operational at an examination that took place during October 1998, suggesting the damage to the seat belt took place after the crash. Taking this information into consideration, the British inquiry came to the conclusion that the lack of seat belts worn by the passengers had caused or contributed to the deaths of both Diana and Fayed.
In closing, the death of the humanitarian icon and princess of the people in a devastating car crash as she was speeding through the Pont D’Alma tunnel to her Egyptian-born boyfriend’s apartment in Paris two decades ago is still seen as one of the most tragic and defining moments in history. The sudden turn of events and the overall controversy surrounding the media saint resulted in countless investigations and theories from all sides. With the most prominent causes including the heavy intoxication of the driver at the time of the crash, the Princess’s dysfunctional seat belt, and her planned murder among many others. Yet despite the declared causes and the given evidence, the Princess’s death and the actual events leading up to it have remained a mystery to this day.