It was Saturday, 30th August 1997.
A beautiful warm day in Sardinia, yet Diana and Dodi's holiday had come to an end, and they wanted to go home. The pair didn't however fly directly to London. They still wanted to enjoy one or two days in Paris.
Dodi's father had placed his private jet at their disposal, a short stop between destinations was therefore not a problem.
They landed in the city of love at 15.15. The lovers were at once followed by the press.
The pair viewed a Paris town house owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed. Then the pair drove to the Al-Fayed private villa. A cool drink, a little brush up, pull on comfortable clothes.
Dodi and Diana wanted to spend the weekend completely casually and intimately. Towards evening they drove to the Champs-áµlysã´es, Diana wanted to view the beautiful shops on the magnificent avenue. The pair strolled down the street, she in light coloured trousers and a dark blazer, he in jeans and a leather shirt. They looked like completely normal tourists, no-one showed the famous lovers any great attention. Later they decided to have dinner at the Ritz hotel. It belongs to Dodi's father.
Here they could sit in a peaceful corner of the restaurant. And as there was always a roomy suite for Dodi reserved in the Ritz, the pair could freshen themselves before they dined. Diana arranged for a hairdresser to attend to her, but didn't feel like getting changed. Dodi too remained casually dressed. They didn't feel very hungry and in the restaurant they ordered a little fish, white wine and coffee. Somehow the pair were nervous. They wanted to drive immediately to Dodi's private villa, the journalists were not supposed to get the opportunity to follow.
Was the dinner in the Ritz just an evasive action? Should the photographers believe that Diana and Dodi would spend the night in the hotel? In any case Dodi arranged evading tactics with the hotel staff:a chauffeur drove his limousine from the main entrance, turned round after a few kilometres and returned back to the hotel. And yes, the photographers followed on their motorbikes. Yet they soon realised that something was afoot, and remained on the hotel forecourt. At 19 minutes past midnight Diana and Dodi were ready to go. They chose the back exit which led out on to the narrow street Rue Cambon.
They also didn't take the normalMercedes 600, instead taking an inconspicuous model, a Mercedes 280. The second security man at the hotel, Henri Paul, should drive the car. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones sat in the front seat, Dodi and Diana in the back. The car drove away.
At the Place de la Concorde the car with the prominent passengers was followed by the photographers, who were ever in the hope of taking good photos. They grew ever larger in numbers, the photographers probably stayed in contact using mobile phones. Henri Paul gave gas. He wanted to outdrive the paparazi under all conditions. With squeeking tyres he accelerated away. He drove faster and faster. Henri Paul took the fast road at the harbour of the river Seine, raced then into the tunnel under the Place de Alma. The speed limit is 80 kilometres, he drove a full 180. Shortly after the entrance to the tunnel he completely lost control of the heavy car. The car skidded, lurched from side to side and finally crashed at high speed into the 13th concrete post! An explosion happened on impact. It was exactly 0:25. The driver was dead at the scene.
The bodyguard lay in a critical position on the passenger side. He was unconscious, but alive. Dodi like Henri Paul, lost his life at the scene of the accident. Diana, who was sitting next to her lover, lay crunched up in the back, her head clamped between the two front seats. She was still breathing. Miraculously she had hardly any bleeding wounds. By chance on the opposite carriageway a doctor was driving. He saw the car accident and stopped his car at once. Dr. Frederic Maillez reached for his emergency bag and ran to the crashed car. He didn't know who the passengers were. But he recognised that the driver and the man sitting in the rear of the car were both dead. The external injuries of the second man at the front appeared the worst to him, so he first gave the bodyguard medical attention.
Diana made rowing movements with her arms, when injured people do this it means that they are not receiving enough oxygen. The medic laid an oxygen mask over the unconscious Princess's mouth. The ambulance was meanwhile underway. It took almost an hour until the victims could be taken out of the wreck. The car had to be first cut open using metal shears.
At half-past one in the morning Diana came into the La Pitié-Salpêtriére hospital: emergency operation. The surgeons opened her ribcage "and discovered a torn vein. Massive inner bleeding! They managed to close the vein. But suddenly her heart stopped. The medics tried to bring the Princess back to life using heart massage. The fight lasted until shortly before four o'clock in the morning. Then the doctors had to agree that they had lost the fight.
Diana was dead!
The Princess of Wales died on 31st August 1997 at 3.57 am. After the initial shock at the tragic death of the Princess many questions were raised. How could it have come to this pointless death? Then the photographers were blamed for not giving the car enough room, following the car, and therefore being responsible for the accident.
The paparazi had certainly not played a laudable role in this drama, but one cannot give them the complete guilt. As Henri Paul, the chauffeur was completely drunk! He had exactly 1,75 millilitres of alcohol in his blood. That is the same as about eight whiskies. Henri emerged as a dry alcoholic, his liver readings were normal.
In spite of this he must have been pointlessly drunk on this evening. But this was not all. The medics could also detect traces of drugs in his blood. A hellish combination when together with alcohol. How was it possible that a drunken security guard would place himself behind the wheel of a car?
How did no-one notice his condition? Mohamed Al-Fayed released the video from the security cameras at the hotel. One can recognise Diana as well as Dodi and Henri Paul. The security guard didn't sway!
A photographer reported after the accident that on the night in question in front of the Ritz Paul had told them: "You won't catch us tonight". Did he overjudge himself, and did Henri want to organise a race?
Perhaps even impress the Princess? It is also strange that only the bodyguard had worn a safety belt. Would it not have been his duty to have at least move Diana and Dodi to put it on? And why had the lovers not tried to get the driver to keep the speed down? It is so unbelievable for the entire world that Diana is no longer alive. Wild speculations soon took hold: late witnesses claimed to have seen a white Fiat Uno, which was supposedly caught up in the accident, it could however also have been a white Citröen. There were also splinters of glass on the concrete post and on the Mercedes which prove this.
In November 1998 the "Final Report" was given over Diana's accident.
It was a normal tragic accident.