Was Princess Diana murdered? Conspiracy theories have persisted since her death in a Paris tunnel in 1997.
They’re likely to be revisited in some people’s minds as her son, Prince Harry, and his wife, the former Meghan Markle, speak candidly with Oprah Winfrey about the Royal Family. One can’t help wonder how much Harry’s current estrangement from the royals has to do with their treatment of, or his perceptions of their treatment of, his tragic mother, Princess Diana.
The father of the man who died at Diana’s side, Dodi Fayed, has openly alleged that Diana was murdered. The basic theory holds that the Royal Family or British intelligence services set up the accident that led to Diana’s death because they didn’t want the future King to have a Muslim stepfather.
However, an inquest looked into the question of Diana’s death and ruled that it was a tragic car accident caused by the negligence of the driver and chasing paparazzi, not a murder. Diana died at a hospital after a car crash in a Paris tunnel. Her driver lost control of the car as it tried to outrun paparazzi on motorbikes.
The British government’s lengthy inquest report is called Operation Paget, which found that Diana’s death was a tragic accident and that she was not murdered. You can read it here. Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997.
The report reveals, “Mohamed Al Fayed claims that the presence of the paparazzi created the environment in which the collision could be arranged. It is not stated if this was done knowingly or unknowingly by the paparazzi or whether outside agents were introduced to the paparazzi to facilitate this.”
The report explains, “At around 12.20am on Sunday 31 August 1997, the Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed left the Ritz Hotel to return to the apartment in rue Arsène Houssaye. They were the rear passengers in a Mercedes S280 car driven by Henri Paul, the Acting Head of Security at the Ritz Hotel. Trevor Rees-Jones, Dodi Al Fayed’s bodyguard, was in the front passenger seat.”
The report continues,
They left from the rear of the hotel, the rue Cambon exit. After crossing the Place de la Concorde they drove along Cours la Reine and Cours Albert 1er (the embankment road running parallel to the River Seine) into the Place de l’Alma underpass. The Mercedes collided with the thirteenth central pillar in the underpass. Dodi Al Fayed and Henri Paul died at the scene. Both were taken directly to the Institut Médico-Légal (IML), the Paris mortuary, not to a hospital. The Princess of Wales, who was seriously injured but still alive after the impact, was taken by the emergencys ervices to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. Trevor Rees-Jones survived the impact with very serious injuries. He also was taken to the same hospital as the Princess of Wales for emergency treatment. At around 4am, following emergency surgery, the Princess of Wales died.
The report notes,
Mohamed Al Fayed has made a principal crime allegation, supplemented by numerous linked claims and assertions. In essence Mohamed Al Fayed’s allegation is that the ‘Security Services’ (unless otherwise specified, this is taken to be the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) – commonly known as MI6) acting at the behest of HRH Prince Philip, arranged for or carried out the murder of Dodi Al Fayed and the Princess of Wales.
That being said, here are the most common questions that conspiracy theorists raise about the death of the princess:
Diana Wrote a Chilling Letter Foreshadowing Her Death
According to The Independent, Diana penned a chilling letter before her death in which she said that her husband, Charles, was planning to have her murdered. This is not a conspiracy theory. The letter was actually introduced during the inquest.
She wrote the letter and gave it to her former butler Paul Burrell for safekeeping about 10 months before she died.
In the letter, according to The Independent, Diana claimed that the motive was Charles’ desire to get remarried; however, she believed he wanted to marry her children’s nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, not his mistress and eventual wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles.
“This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous – my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy,” Diana wrote. In the letter, she also said that she had been “battered, bruised and abused mentally by a system for 15 years now.”
However, during the inquest, Diana’s close friend, Lucia Flecha da Lima, claimed she didn’t fear for her life and said, “Paul Burrell was perfectly capable of imitating Princess Diana’s handwriting. I don’t believe she was fearing for her life, especially from Prince Charles, the future king of your country.:
Burrell himself said he didn’t believe Charles was plotting to murder Diana. “I could not possibly see the father of her children murdering her,” he told the inquest, according to The Independent.
The Mysterious Fiat Uno
For years, it was unclear who was driving a mysterious Fiat Uno that is believed to have sideswiped Diana’s car before it crashed.
It’s since been allege that the driver was Vietnamese-born Le Van Thanh, according to Daily Mail. The site reported that he claims “that when British police asked him to come to the UK to talk to them about the crash, some French officers instructed him not to go there.”
According to Daily Mail, his father alleged in 2006 that Thanh “had his car repaired and resprayed later that day: and white paint on it matched paint on Diana’s car. French police interviewed him in 1997.
He has claimed he is innocent and had nothing to do with Diana’s death. You can read more about Le Van Thanh here.
What of the paparazzi? The report says,
Eyewitness accounts described motorcycle(s) and/or car(s) near to the Mercedes as it approached and entered the Alma underpass. These accounts were neither wholly consistent nor corroborative. Eyewitness accounts in rapid scenarios such as this will inevitably contain contradictions. The weight of evidence showed that vehicles did leave the scene of the crash and some appear to be still unidentified. They may or may not have been paparazzi.”
The Flash of Light
One witness said they saw a flash of a white light in the tunnel before Diana’s car crash.
According to the Guardian, this witness testified at Diana’s inquest.
Francois Levistre was driving in front of the Mercedes and told the jury that a motorbike “had overtaken the princess’s car in the tunnel,” the Guardian reported.
“He told the jury he had then seen a very bright flash, which had been directed at the Mercedes,” Guardian reported.
Levistre said: “I realised there was this major white flash of the motorbike in front of the Mercedes, in front of the car.”
The Plot to Kill a Serbian Leader
According to The Irish Times, a former head of MI6 confirmed “that a proposal to assassinate Serbia’s former president Slobodan Milosevic was briefly considered within the service during the early 1990s, but rejected.”
Sir Richard Dearlove made the comments at the inquest, but he denied that MI6 was involved in a plot to murder the princess.
He denied claims by Dodi Fayed’s father that Prince Philip set up the plot to murder Diana with a light being shined into her driver’s eyes to provoke a crash. He was asked about the Milosevic plan because it was revealed by a former intelligence officer who felt it mirrored what happened to Diana – causing a car crash in a tunnel.
“An officer working in one of the sections to do with the Balkans had suggested the possibility of assassinating another political personality who was involved in ethnic cleansing. The whole proposal was killed stone dead by the officer’s line manager on the basis that his idea was out of touch with service practice, service ethos, and was not a proposal to which serious consideration would be given,” he said, according to The Irish Times.
The inquest report says, “All the evidence available shows that MI6 did not know that the Princess of Wales was in Paris that night.”
Many questions have been raised about Diana’s driver, Henri Paul, who also died in the crash. In particular, there are allegations that his blood samples were “cooked” to make him look impaired.
According to the Independent, “Clinical pharmacologist Professor Atholl Johnston told Diana’s inquest the almost identical results from samples taken from different parts of the driver’s body raised suspicions.”
According to the Irish Times, Judge Hervé Stéphane found the deaths were due to “a banal combination of drunk-driving, high speed and the configuration of the place,” But Paul’s parents filed a suit to clear his name.