The death of Princess Diana was an event that affected people across the planet. Britain grieved, the world grieved. Even people who had never devoted any real attention to the British Royal Family felt deep emotion at the tragic circumstances that robbed the world of someone who qualified as a global cultural icon.
At first it appeared to be nothing more than a simple tragic accident. Diana had enjoyed a romantic meal with her lover, Dodi Al-Fayed, at the Ritz Hotel owned by his father, Mohamed Al- Fayed. A little before midnight the couple left, accompanied by Diana’s bodyguard – Trevor Rees-Jones. To escape 30 paparazzi parked outside, they went out via the back door. The chauffeur of their bulletproof Mercedes-Benz was Henri Paul, the Ritz Hotel’s head of security.
The car sped away and a tourist captured the scene on video as an innocent-looking Citroen followed and the paparazzi, realising they had been duped, began to give chase on their motorcycles. After a few minutes’ pursuit, the Mercedes entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel at high speed and all we know is that Diana, Dodi and Henri failed to emerge from it with their lives. It took the French investigation several years to produce an official version of events. Not surprisingly, they supported the instant verdict from the world’s media that it was a woeful auto accident caused by the combination of a drunk driver, pursuing paparazzi and a failure to wear seatbelts.
The first public suggestion that there was a conspiracy to kill Princess Diana surfaced on the BBC World Service a couple of days after the unfortunate events of 31 August 1997. In bizarre propagandist tones, the BBC made pains to deride a speech made by Libyan leader Colonel Moamar Qaddafi in which he claimed that the “accident” was a joint French and British conspiracy because they did not want Diana to marry a Muslim man. Conspiracy theories began circulating on the night of her death, most of them speculating on how strange it was that on the day she died, Diana had already told one major British national newspaper to prepare for an amazing announcement.
A ROYAL COVER UP?
The Queen intervened to clear Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, when he was on trial at the Old Bailey just before he was about to take the stand and possibly reveal a number of uncomfortable facts about the Princess in November 2002. It later emerged that after Diana’s death, the Queen had spoken at length to Burrell. Sounding like the most paranoid of conspiracy theorists and using dialogue that would not have been out of place in The X-Files, she warned Burrell to be careful, saying, “There are powers at work in this country which we have no knowledge about.”
The warning led Burrell to wait until October 2003 to make public the fact that Diana had written him a note ten months before she died. It stated: “This particular phase of my life is the most dangerous. ‘X’ is planning an accident in my car, brake failure and serious head injuries in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry”. The Princess’ startling prescience has heightened the belief she was a victim of a conspiracy, not a tragic accident.
Claims have been made that Henri Paul was three times over the legal alcohol limit. A second blood test ordered by his disbelieving family showed a level of carbon monoxide in his body that was not only lethal, but would have entered his bloodstream before he got into the car. The security video from the Ritz that night does not show him as a drunk, or reeling from carbon monoxide poisoning. The mystery of Henri Paul deepens further with the revelation that he deposited more than 164,000 francs into his bank account shortly before he died. In 2007, an British inquest was held into the deaths of Diana and Dodi. Evidence was given by a number of high-profile individuals, including Paul Burrell, Mohamed Al-Fayed and the former head of MI5. The jury of six women and five men eventually gave their verdict on 7 April 2008, placing the blame on Henri Paul and the chasing paparazzi.
A TRAGIC ACCIDENT
Even if Diana was pregnant, that does not mean there was a conspiracy to kill her. Driving at high speed through Paris is dangerous enough without being pursued by a pack of motorcycle paparazzi. Add a barrage of camera flashes to a chase conducted at more than 120 miles per hour when the passengers are not wearing seatbelts and you no longer need a conspiracy to explain a fatal crash. Faced with a tragedy such as Diana’s death, it is not surprising that some people cannot accept it as a mere random accident. The car crash in Paris may be the perfect example of why some conspiracy theories come into being: if they did not exist we would have to face the banality and indiscriminate nature of death.
FACT OR FICTION?
The crash happened in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel that was built over a site used in the time of the Merovingian dynasty (between 500–751 AD) as a sacred ritual area. Some secret societies, such as the Prieur de Sion and the Templars, claim that the Merovingian and all true European royalty – including Diana Spencer’s family – are connected to the pagan cult of Diana. It is odd that Britain’s Queen of Hearts may have died on a former site of worship for the goddess whose name she was given.