Every time a celebrity bites the dust, there is always a whirlwind of sadness and reminiscing about their career. In the case of entertainers, however, it is normally just that—fond memories and sad but thought-provoking tributes. In some cases, such as the case of rapper Tupac Shakur, icon Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and many more, theories rise up to explain why the official account of events is not to be trusted.
Among the most notorious conspiracy theories surrounds the killing of John F. Kennedy. The official story is that a disgruntled former Marine, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot him with an old Italian rifle from a book depository. There are, however, more conspiracy theories, inconsistencies, information, and misinformation surrounding this case than almost any other. Very similar is the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales.
On August 31st of 1997, Diana, her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, all died when their Mercedes Benz S280 crashed in a tunnel in Paris. Initial reports said that the occupants of the speeding car were trying to outrun paparazzi. But an inquiry that was completed in 1999 said that Henri Paul, the driver, was drunk at the wheel and lost control of the vehicle. Of course, many people consider the official story to be wildly unreliable. While some conspiracy theories (like Paul McCartney being dead) are likely wrong, this one does raise some very legitimate points about this event.
Despite the high-profile nature of this incident, many people still only know some very broad details. A closer look into the event and the details of it indicate that the official story may well be complete nonsense. Here are a few little known facts and some terrifying realities you may not know about the death of Princess Diana that took place 20 years ago this August.
15. Henri Paul
Henri Paul was the deputy head of security at the Hotel Ritz Paris and driver of the Mercedes on the night of the crash. First responders think he died on impact. The official story, as we mentioned earlier, is that he was drunk behind the wheel and lost control of the car.
There are a number of interesting things to be considered about that account. Henri Paul probably did have a lot to drink that night and was on antidepressants, but he is on camera acting coherent and not visibly intoxicated shortly before the accident. Detractors from the official story also claim that the amount he drank that night was negligible, given that he was a seasoned alcoholic. There are some disagreements among experts over exactly how much he had to drink that night.
There were also some theories about Paul being an employee of French and/or British security services, as he had over a thousand dollars on him at the time of death. Of course, as a ranking employee at an upscale hotel in Paris who occasionally needed to buy things for wealthy clients, having over a grand (USD) in his pockets is not the strangest thing in the world.
Another theory is that Paul was never supposed to drive Diana and Dodi that night and was threatened by SAS and MI6 agents on the night of the crash and actually thought that rather than paparazzi following the car, it was a group of would-be assassins.
14. What Happened To The Survivor?
Many people forget that there were four people in the car, and that while Diana, Dodi, and Henri Paul all died, Trevor Rees-Jones, a bodyguard, made it out alive. He was a former military man who worked for Mohamed Al-Fayed in the mid 1990’s. In the crash, Rees-Jones sustained a serious head injury in which his face was “flattened,” his jaw was essentially destroyed, and had to have his entire face reconstructed.
Al-Fayed implied that Rees-Jones had failed to properly protect his son, Dodi, and Diana on the night of the crash, which prompted the security guard to write a book recounting his version of events. While his perspective on the crash would have been invaluable in the weeks and months after, his recollection was considered unreliable because of the massive head trauma he had experienced in the crash.
13. James Huth’s Testimony
James Huth isn’t involved with the conspiracy side of the death of Princess Diana, but he was the first man on the scene, and he gave a terrifying recollection of the results of the crash. Now a filmmaker, Huth was early in his entertainment career at the time of the crash, having just transitioned his career from dental surgery to filmmaking. His knowledge of medicine propelled him to head into the tunnel to try to help, as he heard the late night crash from his apartment.
What Huth saw first was the driver, Henri Paul, who, according to his testimony, was dead by the time of his arrival and had his head inside of the airbag. He next saw passenger and security guard Trevor Rees-Jones, who was in a panicked state and had his jaw “hanging off,” in the words of Huth.
Two other men showed up and tried to open the door, but Huth instructed them it was dangerous to try to move people in an auto wreck as they may have damaged their spines. Huth then went on to describe the back of the car, in which Dodi Fayed had been thrown partially into the front of the car and had broken at least one of his legs. Diana was crouched in the back of the car, and Huth could not see her when he approached the car.
Numerous people were there taking pictures before any paramedics showed up, and few tried to help during that time. Huth also indicated that he saw a car parked further up the tunnel, but could not make out the make or exact color. It may have been the white Fiat Uno that we’ll discuss later.
12. She May Have Predicted It
Diana had thought for a few years “that Charles and the Royal Family were going to have her killed.” While this doesn’t necessarily count as evidence of their guilt and involvement in her 1997 death, it is interesting to note that she wrote the letter pictured above to her butler, Paul Burrell, shortly after she originally separated from Charles. For those who can’t read her handwriting, the middle and end of the note say, “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.”
Some have questioned the validity of this note and claimed that Burrell may have forged Diana’s writing. Furthermore, others who knew Diana claimed that she was never in fear of her safety, but if this letter was truly written by the late Princess, the thought of someone fearing for her life because of a threat from the Royal Family is a terrifying thought.
11. Different Car? New Route?
The Mercedes that Diana and Dodi were in that night was not the same one in which they had been driven around all day. There is no indication as to why the car was swapped out, but some have suggested that the new car brought to them for their midnight trip had a faulty seat belt. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, but Diana and Dodi were not. Diana’s closest friends suggested her lack of a seat belt was odd, as she was zealous about that particular safety measure. The English and French investigations also returned different results when determining whether or not Diana’s belt was even working at the time of the crash.
Back in March 2017, a new report claimed that that car was in terrible condition at the time of the crash and had actually been poorly rebuilt after an accident months earlier. Hotel staff had actually warned driver Henri Paul and other security staff that the car would potentially be unable to withstand speeds of more than 60 km/h (about 40 mph). Whether this is just a foolish choice on the part of the hotel workers or fodder for the conspiracy theory crowd is up to interpretation.
The fact that they changed their usual route on the way to Dodi’s apartment, however, is a source of skepticism for many. More than a dozen CCTV cameras along this new route, however, were not working on the night of the accident, according to early reports. One French CCTV operator has said that the footage of the car driving along the road that night was all destroyed before the official investigation. The accuracy of these claims are all questionable, but the possibility raises some questions.
10. A Phone Call
As if the thought of her writing letters predicting her own death wasn’t terrifying enough, there was another incident that made Diana think that her life was in danger. Throughout her career as a public figure, she was adamant in her opposition to land mines. Her argument was that these weapons seldom got picked up after conflicts were over and stayed underground until someone, more often than not a child or noncombatant, would step in one, losing a limb or their life. We can see her point. At the time, Great Britain wanted an exemption from any ban of these weapons for their own forces. Diana received a telephone message in February 1997 from a high-ranking military official telling her not to “meddle in things you don’t know anything about, because you know accidents can happen.”
9. Her Medical Treatment
One would imagine that when a ranking government official is in peril, such as after a major auto accident, the paramedics would be quick to the scene and would drive with purpose to get that person to the hospital for care. This did not happen in Diana’s case.
The crash happened around 12:26 in the morning, and the first call to emergency services apparently happened within a minute. Within four minutes, there were police and firefighters on the scene, but she was not removed from the vehicle until around 1 AM. She went into cardiac arrest shortly thereafter and was moved to an ambulance about 20 minutes later after medics were able to get her heart beating again. She made it to the hospital at 2 AM.
Many theorists have argued that the length of time seen here is indicative of a conspiracy. Excuses for the time it took include having to stop the ambulance on the way to hospital because acceleration and deceleration may have caused a problem for Diana’s blood pressure while she was being worked on.
Later on, after she had been declared dead, the body was embalmed very quickly and without following procedure. There was paper work that got neglected, and the embalming job was done on verbal authority only, adding fuel to the conspiracy fire.
8. Was She Pregnant?
Dodi Fayed’s father, Mohamed, has argued that one of the reasons why the Royal Family wanted Diana dead because she was still a public figure tied to their name, and she was pregnant with Dodi’s child. Fayed’s accusation entailed the belief that a Muslim baby so close to the Royal Family would be unacceptable and that Diana was targeted because of the potential for this.
After her death, medical authorities said that during the examination of her body, they had not found anything to imply that she was in the early stages of a pregnancy. Mohamed Al-Fayed, however, countered this by saying that the embalming process would have rendered any postmortem pregnancy test false and that this is the exact reason for the quick and procedure-breaking embalming that took place.
7. The “Bright Flash”
Ten years after Diana’s death, a key witness in the case, who was actually driving in the tunnel in front of the Mercedes, testified to something he had seen that night. Francois Levistre said in 2007 that he was driving in front of the Princess’ car but saw them get overtaken by a motorcycle before an extremely bright flash. It has been suggested that this flash may have been intentional to cause Henri Paul to lose control of the vehicle.
There is some evidence that there may be something to this theory, as a former British intelligence officer named Richard Tomlinson told Mohamed Al-Fayed that a similar bright flash of light had been a suggested method of assassination for former Yugoslavian President, Slobodan Milosevic. Officially, however, the bright flash of light never happened.
6. The White Fiat
Examination of the Mercedes after the crash showed that the vehicle had made contact with a Fiat Uno while in the tunnel, as some paint had been exchanged between the two cars. This Fiat has never been found, but Mohamed Al-Fayed has insisted that he believes this car was used by MI6 agents to run the Mercedes into the pillar and kill the occupants. Al-Fayed said that his investigation had found the car and that it belonged to a French journalist. The official investigation by French and British authorities, however, said that the particular car, in the possession of James Andanson, could not have been used at the time of the accident.
The problem is that there is no way to determine the veracity of this claim because Andanson was found dead back in 2000. His death was ruled a suicide. But when he was found, he apparently had two bullet wounds in his head. Other sources have suggested that his body was found decapitated in a burnt-out car. Many have also suggested that Andanson was more than just a paparazzi photographer and that he was intimately involved with the assassination.
5. The Reopening Of The Tunnel
We’ve all seen it. When a significant accident takes place, especially when there is death or serious injury and nobody seems to know what happened, the roadway may be blocked or partially blocked for half a day or even a week. In the case of a major wreck that killed a member of royalty, however, one would imagine at least a few days to clean up and make sure a diligent evidence gathering had taken place.
In this case, the Mercedes was towed away, the glass was cleaned up, the roadway was cleared of other debris, and the tunnel was once again open for business as usual before the sun came up. This seems like a very quick clean-up, especially for an accident of this importance. Many legal experts have argued that there was no way that the police could have retrieved all the evidence in this brief window of time.
4. Rumor Of SAS Involvement
Back in 2013, the Metropolitan Police Service found a letter while investigating a SAS (Special Air Service, British elite special ops unit) soldier, Danny Nightingale. That letter indicated that a former roommate of Nightingale, known to the public only as “Soldier N,” had bragged about there being SAS involvement in the death of Diana. Apparently, he told his wife and her parents that his unit had been the ones behind the entire incident, and it had been covered up. During their investigation, the police came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support such a story and essentially said that it was all a lie.
Last year, however, Soldier N’s wife claimed to news sources that she had been given money by the SAS to keep quiet about the Princess Diana issue and said that her life was threatened. She now lives in hiding (according to a 2014 article), and it remains to be seen whether the investigation will ever be reopened regarding this aspect of the case, although it is very unlikely.
3. Mohamed Al-Fayed’s “Enemies”
We should be clear about this: Mohamed Al-Fayed has never suggested that his business enemies carried out this attack and has exclusively said that British Intelligence and the Royal Family are responsible. However, it is no secret that Dodi Fayed had an interesting family on both his maternal and paternal side.
Mohamed remains a billionaire to this day and was a very rich man back in the ’90s. He owned the Hotel Ritz at one point, along with Harrod’s Department Store and Fulham FC, until 2013. There has been a great deal of speculation that a business competitor may have been trying to take out Dodi in response to a business deal gone wrong, but no legitimate evidence has ever been offered.
Similarly, Dodi’s maternal uncle, Adnan Khashoggi, who died in early June 2017, was a renowned arms dealer who was worth $4 billion at one point and definitely earned his share of critics and enemies throughout his career. While some have suggested that attacking Dodi may have been the motive, there is not enough evidence to say anything with a level of certainty.
2. Mohamed Al-Fayed’s Investigation And Film
For a couple of months prior to her death, Princess Diana had become romantically involved with Dodi Fayed, the son of Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. Dodi was educated, financially very well off, and had experienced working in the entertainment business. His father earned much of his fortune in real estate and through Harrod’s Department Store and Fulham FC, the soccer (football, whatever) team.
In the wake of Dodi and Diana’s death in August 1997, Mohamed Al-Fayed adamantly held that there were other forces at work and that an intoxicated driver was not what killed his son. He spent a great deal of money having all aspects of the case independently investigated, but admitted back in 2008 that there was not enough evidence to support his claim. It remains unclear, however, whether he genuinely believes the official story or if he just got fed up dealing with the bureaucracy that comes with such an investigation.
He financed a documentary about the accident called Unlawful Killing in the late 2000’s. But due to the fact that insurers would not protect the filmmakers from potential libel suits, it was never formally released. Fortunately, for anyone who wants to watch this interesting, thoughtful (but incredibly biased) piece of work, it is available on YouTube. Take it with a grain of salt.
1. Some Think Diana Planned The Whole Thing
This theory doesn’t hold much weight, but some believe that Diana and Dodi planned to fake their deaths so that they could make a new life outside of the eye of the Royal Family and the media. While the thought of this is not completely preposterous, there is no way to ever know. Proponents of this theory cite certain pieces of evidence such as the letter to her butler that we mentioned earlier, claiming that she wrote it so that when they did get in their auto wreck, people would blame the Royal Family. The exact nature of their plans remain unknown (for obvious reasons), but people will argue that the auto wreck was not meant to be so severe as to kill Dodi and Diana. Much like the theory about Al-Fayed’s business competition going after his son, this theory doesn’t hold water either. Realistically, however, there is no way to know.
Whatever the case, there does seem to be some legitimacy to the idea that there are some gaping holes in the official story of events and that there may have been more foul play than just a drunk driver.
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