The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JULY  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

The People News
Special Report






The Death of a Princess

by Alexandra Edwards

On August 31, 1997, news traveled through the media that Diana, the Princess of Wales had been involved in a serious automobile accident inside the Pont de Alma tunnel, Paris, France. As the accident occurred around 12:20 am, it was not until the next morning that people across the globe awoke to the tragic news that Princess Diana was dead.  The world was in shock, the beautiful vibrant young princess who's life had been the focus of global media attention for over sixteen years and ranked the most photographed woman, was dead. 

After the announcement of her engagement to Charles, the Prince of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer was an instant success with the British tabloids who had nicknamed her "Shy Di" due to the way she bowed her head and looked up shyly to the photographers.  At just nineteen years of age Diana's life had suddenly transformed from a nursery school teacher to a future Princess of heir to the throne of King of England.

On July 29, 1981 millions witnessed what was described as  a "fairytale wedding." Huge crowds gathered around Buckingham Palace to celebrate the marriage of the Prince and

Alexandra Edwards

Princess of Wales.

However, it was not long before signs were beginning to show that the marriage of the most publicized royal couple was faltering. News stories revealed that Charles was still romantically involved with his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles (his present day  wife).

Despite giving birth to two sons William and Harry whom she adored, Diana's "fairytale" marriage was not a happy one and unlike the story books,  the prince and princess did not live happily ever after.  By August of 1996  the marriage ended with a divorce.

Even after the divorce Diana continued to be hounded by the media, her private life always being made public. She was photographed wherever she went, with whoever escorted her. Several books were published revealing startling events that led up to the breakdown of the unhappy royal marriage and Diana's relationship with the Royal family. Stories also emerged that the princess may have had secret love affairs prior to the divorce.

Early in 1997, after her divorce, reports showed that Diana was romantically involved with Dodi Al- Fayed,

a wealthy Egyptian national.

Photographs of the happy couple said to be very much in love were on the cover of tabloids and magazines across the globe. On August 30, it was reported that Diana and Dodi were returning from a vacation in Sardinia and decided to fly to Dodi's  private villa in  Paris, France before returning to London. After spending the day in Paris they went to the Ritz Hotel for evening dinner. To avoid photographers, the couple arranged to leave by the rear door with chauffeur Henri Paul and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. As an extra precaution

they used a different model Mercedes to their usual one. Henri Paul and Trevor Rees-Jones sat in the front seats with Diana and Dodi in the back. However, reports said freelance media photographers (paparazzi) were soon on their tail and were growing larger in number. In an attempt to lose them Henri Paul accelerated entering the tunnel under the Place de Alma at a speed reported to be 121 miles per hour. The car was said to have gone out of control and hit a concrete post. Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul were said to have died at the scene, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was in critical condition. Reports from a doctor who had witnessed the accident showed that Diana was still alive but was having breathing problems. It took almost an hour before the ambulance removed the victims from the wreck. Princess Diana was pronounced dead on August 31, 1997 at 3:57 am due to massive internal bleeding and heart failure.

Blame for the accident was placed on the hounding paparazzi and also on chauffeur Henri Paul who was said to have been drinking heavily and was also on drugs.

As with most tragic deaths in high society, there are always many unanswered questions which encourage numerous conspiracy theories. A white Fiat Uno was said to have been involved in the crash and although identity checks were carried out on 40,000 Fiat Uno owners, the car was never found. Another point made was why would the paparazzi risk their lives driving alongside a speeding car realizing that obtaining clear photographs of the occupants inside would be impossible at such speed. Conspiracy theorists have speculated Diana may have been pregnant with Dodi's child and that the Royal Palace had arranged for the M16 British secret service to kill

them. However former royal coroner Dr. John Burton was later quoted as saying that he attended the British post-mortem and can categorically say Diana was not pregnant.

Dodi's father, Mohammed al Fayed, owner of the exclusive London store Harrods, ordered a full and on-going investigation  into the death of his son and Diana, stating that the crash was part of a plot by the British Secret Service because the relationship was embarrassing Britain's royal household.  A letter from Diana to her butler Paul Burrell written 10 months before her death, was published in a British tabloid in which she claimed her husband, the Prince of Wales, was plotting to kill her in a crash. On January 6, 2004,  inquests into the deaths of Diana and Dodi were opened and adjourned. Royal coroner Michael Burgess asked former Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens to head an inquiry into their deaths.The inquiry has so far cost more than $7.3 million.

Burgess told the BBC  "I am aware that there is speculation that these deaths were not the result of the sad but relatively straightforward road traffic accident in Paris."

Ten years on, the inquest still continues and new evidence has immerged.  Just recently photos of the  fatal car wreck were aired on British television.  Also being questioned in recent court hearings is a remark published in one of the books  allegedly made by  Queen Elizabeth during a conversation with Diana's former butler Paul Burrell following the car crash in 1997.  The remark was of the Queen's alleged claim of "powers that may be at work" over the death of Princess Diana was published in one of  Burrell's books.

As Trevor Rees-Jones, sole survivor of the accident says he cannot recall what happened, and just like the death of John F. Kennedy, we will probably never learn the true facts of exactly what happened the day of August 31, 1997.

But just as history recounts the long list of murders and assassinations attributed to the British Royal Dynasty and their courtiers even until recent times, it is not inconceivable that royal staff would use any means available to preserve the British royal lineage.