Greetings Dear Reader,
Prepare to plunge knee-deep into murder plots, pregnancies and preposterous conspiracies truly befitting a princess: Wave to the public with one hand, hold mine with the other, and accompany me as I walk you through the story of Diana, the Princess of Wales, and her mysterious passing away.
Last time around we covered the drug-induced demise of the King of Pop, so I decided it would only make sense to cover another royal icon’s doubt-inducing death. And who more royal and more iconic than actual royalty? I’m speaking, of course, about Diana, Princess of Wales. Famed for her charity work and loved for her unwavering dedication to helping those in need, Princess Diana gained almost universal approval as a figure who could easily serve as a role model for young girls and grown women alike. Even so many years after her death, Princess Diana’s long-enduring legacy continues to find homely accommodation in the hearts of the people of Britain, and her remembrance continues to be commemorated.
The beloved Princess was killed in a tragic car accident in Paris on 31st August, 1997. Although the British Police officially blamed her death on the inebriated state of the driver, there are conspiracy theorists out there who did believe, still believe, and will believe in the future, that Princess Diana’s death was more than it seemed. Who believe that there was something going on behind the public eye. Who believe that her death was staged, or much worse, planned.
Are you holding my hand? Good. Hold it tighter. Let’s dive right in.
The Woman Behind the Title
Born into British nobility, Diana Spencer already had close ties to the Royal Family. Her life was surprisingly typical, as were her interests and hobbies. This all changed when she courted and then married Prince Charles, heir apparent to the throne, earning herself the now all-too-well-known title of Princess of Wales, and making her first appearance in the public eye.
Despite being thrust so suddenly into the cavernous, acid-filled jaws of public scrutiny, Princess Diana adjusted remarkably well to her new life, carrying out her duties as a Princess with determination and pursuing a number humanitarian aims that would benefit countless lives and earn her the additional honorary of “The People’s Princess”. Despite a tumultuous marriage, eventually ending in divorce, and constant hounding from the press (we’ll get more into that later), Princess Diana maintained her ongoing charity work, as well as her charismatic and endearing personality. However, despite her charms, heart, and numerous glories, Fate had different plans for Diana. In 1997, her seemingly fairytale life suddenly befell a rather grimdark ending.
The Catastrophic Collision
On 30st August, 1997, Diana and her then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed were staying at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, devising a way to slip by the massive throng of journalists and tabloid-writers lingering just outside the hotel doors. The plan was simple. A decoy vehicle left from the Ritz, taking with it a decent chunk of the paparazzi. Diana and Fayed then left from the hotel’s rear entrance in a Mercedes-Benz W140. The car was driven by Henri Paul, Deputy Head of Security at the Ritz, and was carrying Trevor Rees-Jones, Fayed’s bodyguard, in addition to Fayed and Diana.
As could be expected, the paparazzi quickly took pursuit of the car, riding on motorcycles and cars, their cameras positioned and poised like sharpshooters holding military rifles. Henri Paul sped up the car, burning rubber in an attempt to evade the paparazzi. He was going fast. Very fast. Extremely fast. Too fast. No sooner had the car entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, it crashed into the right-hand wall before violently colliding with a supporting pillar. The thunderous noise of collapsing metal perforated the air as the car crashed headfirst into the pillar, accompanied shortly by the smell of burning rubber. And amongst this temporary cacophony, not a single scream was heard.
Fayed and Paul were pronounced dead. The Princess was still alive, but badly injured. After performing CPR for twenty minutes, Diana was rushed to a nearby hospital. It was futile. Her internal injuries were too great. Her pulmonary vein was torn open. Her heart had been displaced to the right side of her chest. In the morning of tomorrow, at 4:00 am, Princess Diana died, waving one final, royal goodbye to the world.
Now that you know about the who, where, what, and how, it;s time to look at the why. What exactly was the reason for Princess Diana’s life coming to a (quite literally) crashing halt? The official British inquest stated Henri Paul as being guilty of unlawfully killing Diana and Fayed by driving under the influence of alcohol, adding that Diana and Fayed had not been wearing seatbelts, which resulted in their fatal injuries.
However, much like how today’s millennials act towards newspapers, many people out there don’t subscribe to this verdict. Despite Paul’s inebriation being officially proven through chemical tests, conspiracists are still skeptical of what actually happened. Here’s a look at some of the most popular conspiracy theories:
Conspiracy A: As in ‘A’ for Assasination
There is something quite universal indeed about animosity between family members: It exists in all families and in all kinds of forms, from behind-the-back remarks to cold-blooded murder. The latter is not hyperbole. It is widely believed that Princess Diana was killed by a member of the royal family, particularly Prince Charles.
Such claims are fueled in no short amount by Diana’s own suspicions at the time. She is said to have worried for her own life, and a direct quote states “This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous. […] is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry,”. It was notoriously known that Princess Diana and prince Charles were having severe marriage difficulties. With Diana out of the frame, Charles would have ample opportunity to remarry without scorn from the media. Eyewitnesses claim that Paul did not seem to be drunk before he took the role of driver. It would be easy enough to convince the man to sacrifice his life for an off-the-record payout to his family. Add this to prior reports of Diana’s car having unexplained breakdowns in the past, and voila! A royal ploy, a tale of dissent and hatred building up to an elaborate assasination, a story juicy enough to publish in a tabloid.
Speaking of tabloids…
Conspiracy B: Blame the Press
Anyone who’s heard of Diana’s death will immediately point you to the paparazzi as the cause of death, perhaps describing them with a choice expletive. As stated before, tabloid journalists would hound Diana mercilessly before her death, trying their hardest to find a stain besmirching the near-spotless public image of the Princess of Wales. Even on the night of her death the paparazzi were chasing after the car. Some believe that the paparazzi intentionally tried to make Diana’s car crash (nothing sells more copies than famous dead people), while others believe that while the paparazzi did not intentionally create the car crash, their haranguing of the Princess was still the cause.
What’s more frightening is the notion that some paparazzi attempted to take photographs of Diana after the crash. Some journalists did step forward to try and help the injured woman, but a variety of sources state that a handful of photographers continued clicking away as Diana lay trapped among the wreckage. Let’s face it folks, no matter how many Lovecraftian monstrosities we cook up in our various fictions, none shall be more frightening than we humans ourselves.
Speaking of Lovecraftian monstrosities…
Conspiracy C: Children Ruin Everything
Children. You hate them when they belong to someone else, and love them when they’re your own (and sometimes even then you hate them). Yes, some conspiracists allege that Princess Diana was pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s child. Of course, Diana’s body showed no signs of such, but conspiracists have a different interpretation.
The Royal British family caught wind of the fact that Diana was pregnant with Fayed’s child, and could not stand the idea of Diana potentially marrying outside the Britsh Circle of Royalty. So, they hatched a plan.
It has long been speculated that Diana’s car actually hit another vehicle, a white Fiat Uno, before crashing into the pillar. Conspiracists say that people working for the Royal Family were piloting the Fiat Uno that night, ramming their car into Diana’s Mercedes, ensuring that Diana would not survive. Furthermore, it is reasoned that agents of MI6 (the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service; also colloquially known as that thing James Bond works for) tampered with official documents to make it look as if Diana wasn’t pregnant. While the theory does seem like a bit of a stretch, former MI6 officer Robin Tomlinson did claim that MI6 was involved in the crash, particularly with video surveillance and document manipulation. His statement was never verified, but the doubt always remains, and to totally dismiss this theory would be entirely incorrect, even if the reasoning is a bit alien (you know where this is going). Speaking of alien…
Conspiracy D: Aliens, because why not?
OK, OK, the above title is a gross exaggeration. There isn’t really any evidence implying that aliens were involved. However, eyewitnesses claim that there were bright flashes occurring when Diana’s car entered the tunnel. Whether there actually were any bright flashes is debatable, and they certainly could have come from human sources. These flashes have been determined as false information by the British and french Police, yet it’s such a weird and out-of-place addition to the plethora of conspiracy theories that it deserved mentioning. Just goes to show how the human mind can create mysterious sightings merely through the power of uncertainty. And speaking of… Oh wait. There’s nothing left.
Loved by many and lauded by most, Princess Diana left behind a legacy that has withstood the trials of time. She was considered a national treasure, bearing a golden heart and being a gem of a personality. Her perseverance when it came to providing aid and raising awareness is matched by few.
Her death, though tragic, has resulted in the formation of a multitude of theories and testimonials, ranging from the incriminating to the kooky. Perhaps, these conspiracy theories are just another way of remembrance, of reminding the world of her contributions to bettering it. Her death coincidental or concocted, Princess Diana shall forever remain in the hearts and minds of her subjects, and just maybe, it shall remain in yours too.