Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997. She had been riding in the backseat of a Mercedes Benz that was traveling at a high speed thought a tunnel in Paris, France, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a cement pillar.
It is reported that Diana did not die on impact, and that she went into cardiac arrest after being put on a stretcher. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital a short while later. She was just 36-years-old.
She was survived by her two children, Prince William and Prince Harry.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. An EMT Performed CPR on Her at the Scene of the Accident & Says That She Was Alive & Responsive, But She Later Went Into Cardiac Arrest
Princess Diana was alive and responsive, according to responding Sgt. Xavier Gourmelon, a fireman who performed CPR on her at the scene of the accident.
“I held her hand and told her to be calm and keep still. I said I was there to help and reassured her. She said, ‘My God, what’s happened?’ To be honest, I thought she would live. As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live. But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting,” Gourmelon told The Sun back in August 2017.
Princess Diana suffered cardiac arrest “when she was placed on a stretcher,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
She was one of three fatalities in that accident. She was riding in the car with her then-boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and her bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones. A man by the name of Henri Paul was driving the vehicle. Rees-Jones was the only survivor. Fayed and Paul were killed on impact.
2. Her Sister, Jane Fellowes, Was First to Learn of Her Death & She Told the Royal Family
Lady Jane Fellowes (pictured above left) was the first person in the Spencer family to learn of Diana’s death. It was Fellowes who told both the Spencer family and the royal family that Diana had been killed in a car accident.
Fellowes and her older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, traveled to Paris, France, to retrieve their younger sister’s body. Prince Charles, Diana’s ex-husband, also made the journey.
At Princess Diana’s funeral, Fellowes read a poem by Henry Van Dyke Jr. You can read it below.
Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is Eternity.
Since her sister’s death, Fellowes has lived a very private life. She has never spoken out about that fateful night. When her siblings took part in a BBC documentary about their younger sister, Fellowes chose not to participate, according to Hello Magazine.
3. Her Funeral Was Televised & Watched by Approximately 2.5 Billion People
Princess Diana’s funeral took place on September 6, 1997, in London. At 9:08 a.m. local time, the tenor bell was rung, and Princess Diana’s body was taken from Kensington Palace to make its journey to St. James’ Palace via gun carriage.
As the coffin, topped with three wreaths (one from each of her sons and one, of white lilies, from Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer), made its way to Westminster Abbey, it was met by mourners, many of whom wept in the streets, according to the Independent.
“We had expected Diana’s coffin, draped in the Royal Standard and borne upon an unyielding gun carriage, to be met with stunned silence as it passed through the gates. But, in their grief, some were simply unable to contain themselves. As flowers rained down onto the cortege from bystanders, the sound of shrieks and wailing filled the air. ‘Diana!’ they shouted. ‘God bless you!'”
A short while later, the procession arrived in front of Buckingham Palace for a sight that was never previously seen.
“At 10.17am, outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, was the unprecedented sight of almost all members of the Royal Family standing together to pay their respects. They had never before gathered like this for this reason and it was deeply appreciated by the mourners.”
After the funeral service, the coffin was taken to St. James’ Palace where it remained for five days. Princess Diana’s body was later buried at Althorp.
The funeral was televised and approximately 2.5 billion people all over the globe tuned in to watch. According to Entertainment Weekly, approximately 33 million of those people were living in the United States.
Approximately 2,000 people attended the funeral, which was held at Westminster Abbey. Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, and Steven Spielberg were all in attendance.
4. There Were Rumors That She Was Pregnant at the Time & Several Conspiracy Theories Have Been Floating Around Ever Since
For years, conspiracy theories about Princess Diana’s death have circulated, many wondering if her death was a set-up of some kind.
Just after she passed away, her then-boyfriend’s father, Mohamed Al-Fayed, made some bold claims about her death. Not only did Mr. Al-Fayed claim that the royal family orchestrated the whole thing, but he also claimed that she was pregnant at the time of her death.
“Diana told me on the telephone she was pregnant. I am the only person they told. They told me they were engaged and would announce their engagement on Monday morning (three days after the crash). … She told me that she knew Prince Philip and Prince Charles were trying to get rid of her,” he said in front of the High Court while on the witness stand during an inquest, according to Fox News.
Interestingly enough, Diana’s own concerns for her safety and wellbeing play a role in the persistence of rumblings about her demise. As the Independent reported, she did not feel safe in the time before her tragic death and seemed certain that she was going to be killed.
These sentiments were all expressed in a letter she gave to a former butler, Paul Burrell, for safe keeping. The letter expressed fears that someone was “planning ‘an accident’ in my car,” and that the motivation was “to make the path clear for Charles to marry.”
5. When She Died, Her Sons, William & Harry, Were Ages 15 & 12 Respectfully
Princess Diana was survived by her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who were ages 15 and 12 respectfully. The two sons of Diana and her ex-husband, Prince Charles, weren’t going to be a part of their mother’s funeral procession, but their grandfather, Prince Philip, convinced them to do so.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, and it was a collective family decision to do that. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But we were overwhelmed by how many people turned out, it was just incredible. There was that balance between duty and family and that’s what we had to do,” Prince William said during the BBC documentary, Diana, 7 Days.
“I think it was a group decision. But before I knew it, I found myself with a suit on with a black tie and a white shirt, I think, and I was part of it. Genuinely, I don’t have an opinion on whether that was right or wrong. I am glad I was part of it. Looking back on it now, I am very glad I was part of it,” Prince Harry added.
To this day, Princes William and Harry keep their mother’s memory close to their hearts.