Death of Diana, Princess of Wales conspiracy theories
Since 1997 it has been claimed that there was an orchestrated criminal conspiracy to end the life of Diana, Princess of Wales. Official investigations have found that she died in a manner consistent with media reports following the fatal car crash in a Paris road tunnel on 31 August 1997. A French investigation which reported in early September 1999, concluded that the Princess of Wales died as the result of an accident and a jury after hearing evidence in the 2007-8 British inquest found in favour of an "unlawful killing" by driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi pursuing the car. The French investigator, Judge Hervé Stephan, had concluded that the paparazzi were some distance from the couple's Mercedes when it crashed and were not responsible.
Prominent in the claims diverging from the two official version of events have been the British Daily Express newspaper and Mohamed Al-Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed was her boyfriend at the time and also died with her. A special Metropolitan Police inquiry team was established in 2004, Operation Paget, headed by the then Commissioner John Stevens to investigate the conspiracy theories which led to the inquest. This investigation looked into 175 "conspiracy claims" which had been made by Al-Fayed.
Al-Fayed has persistently suggested what were found to be conspiracy theories at the inquest, claims without any substance at all; he has repeatedly claimed that the Princess of Wales was murdered.
- 1 Henri Paul
- 2 Tomlinson's allegation of MI6 involvement
- 3 Relationship with Dodi Fayed
- 4 Pregnancy
- 5 Absence of CCTV images
- 6 White Fiat Uno and James Andanson
- 7 Bright flash
- 8 Seatbelt
- 9 Transport to the hospital
- 10 Embalming of the body
- 11 SAS
- 12 Conspiracy theories in contemporary art
- 13 Conspiracy theories in other media
- 14 Notes and references
Security service connections
Theorists have alleged that the driver of the Mercedes, acting head of Ritz security Henri Paul, was in the pay of a national security service, though different versions of the allegation name the country of the security service alternately as Britain, France or the United States. Purported evidence to support this arises mainly from the money in his possession at the time of his death and his personal wealth. These allegations are covered in chapter four of the Operation Paget criminal investigation report. Al-Fayed claims that Henri Paul was working for MI6 and that they set him up.
The inquiry found no evidence Henri Paul was an agent for any security service and only had very limited occasional and unpaid contact with the French Security Services due to the sensitive nature of his job.
Another allegation concerns the reliability of blood tests carried out that indicate he had been drinking before he took the controls of the car. The French investigators' conclusion that Henri Paul was drunk was made on the basis of an analysis of blood samples, which were said to contain an alcohol level that (according to Jay's September 1997 report) was three times the French legal limit. This initial analysis was challenged by a British pathologist hired by Mohamed Al-Fayed; in response, French authorities carried out a third test, this time using the medically more conclusive fluid from the sclera (white of the eye), which confirmed the level of alcohol measured by blood and also showed Paul had been taking antidepressants.
It has been claimed that the level of alcohol reported to have been found in Henri Paul's blood was not consistent with his sober demeanour, as captured on the CCTV of the Ritz that evening. Professor Robert Forrest, a forensic pathologist, has said that an alcoholic like Paul, with a higher tolerance of alcohol, would be able to appear more sober than he was in actuality. The families of Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul did not accept the findings of the French investigation.
It was disclosed in November 2006 that Lord Stevens had met with Henri Paul's parents telling them that their son was not drunk, Just before Lord Stevens' appearance at the inquest, it was explained by a source close to Stevens that that this inconsistency could be explained by him being "considerate" and "sensitive" towards the elderly couple, an assessment Scott Baker suggested might be credible in his opening comments to the jury. During his cross-examination at the inquest in February 2008, Stevens denied "deliberately misleading" Paul's parents and said that the chauffeur's condition at the time of the crash did not match the Police's definition of being drunk, which he said relies upon someone's physical responses.
Stevens' said that the available evidence suggested Paul had consumed only two alcoholic drinks, but this did not mean that this could be all that Paul had consumed, and that he was indeed "under the influence" of alcohol at the time of the crash. An expert cited in the report estimated that Paul had drunk the equivalent of ten small glasses of Ricard, his favourite liquorice-flavoured French aperitif, before driving.
In the two French TOXLAB tests, Henri Paul was found to have 12.8% carbon haemoglobin saturation, a combination of blood's iron-carrying pigment and carbon monoxide; a smoker normally has about 10%, so the result is not, in fact, unusual. Paul had been smoking small cigars, Cigarillos, in the hours before the multiple fatalities. Another test, backed by the opponents of the official findings, has shown Paul had 20.7% in his blood at the time of death, but if accurate, the rate of dispersal of carbon monoxide from the bloodstream would have meant that Paul's blood had 40% saturation a few hours earlier, and he would scarcely have been able to function at all.
On 9 December 2009 it was reported that DNA samples confirm the blood samples, with high alcohol levels, was indeed from the driver. This had been established by a comparison with samples provided by Paul's parents, demonstrates that the blood tested is indeed that of Henri Paul. and that he had three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood.
Tomlinson's allegation of MI6 involvement
Richard Tomlinson, a former MI6 agent who was dismissed from the intelligence services and later served five months in prison for breaching the Official Secrets Act 1989, claimed that Britain's MI6 had been involved in a sworn statement to the French inquiry in May 1999 suggesting.that the security service has documentation which would assist Judge Stephan in his inquiry. The previous August he was reported by the BBC to have claimed that Henri Paul was working for the security services and that one of her bodyguards, either Trevor Rees-Jones (now known as Trevor Rees) or Kes Wingfield, was a contact for British intelligence.
Tomlinson alleged that MI6 was monitoring Diana before her death, had told Al-Fayed that Henri Paul was an MI6 agent, and that her death mirrored plans he saw in 1992 for the assassination of then President of Serbia Slobodan Milošević, using a strobe light to blind his chauffeur. On 13 February Tomlinson said at the inquest that he may have misremembered, and, said on this occasion, that he had no evidence that Paul was an MI6 agent, but was said Paul was supplying MI6 with information in the previous day's court session.
The Operation Paget Inquiry was given unprecedented access to the offices of both MI5 and MI6 to investigate Tomlinson's claims. They found the original memo he referred to from 1992 and it was found to be a proposal to assassinate another Serbian figure if he gained power, not Slobodan Milošević. Furthermore, the plan had none of the detail about a car crash in a tunnel. The inquiry consulted the Crown Prosecution Service to see if a prosecution for conspiracy to murder was appropriate for the report's author as it is against British Government policy to carry out assassinations. A prosecution was not pursued but the author was subjected to a disciplinary procedure by MI6. The memo was shown to Tomlinson and he confirmed it was the one he was referring to in his claims.
Further evidence that discredited Tomlinson's claims was found in drafts of a book he was writing about his time in MI6 before he was jailed in 1998 for breaching the Official Secrets Act. The first draft of the book, dating from 1996, referred to the 1992 memo proposing assassination and contained none of the detail about a staged car crash in a tunnel. However, a later draft of the book from late 1997 had the same reference to the memo but contained the added car crash detail. Operation Paget regarded it as no coincidence that this detail appeared after news of how Diana died was in the public domain.
The inquiry concluded by dismissing Tomlinson's claims as an embellishment. It went on to comment that this embellishment is largely responsible for giving rise to the theories Diana was murdered. It also found limited evidence of surveillance of Diana, mainly arising from phone calls she made to her friend Lucia Flecha De Lima at the Brazilian Embassy but there was nothing to suggest a concerted effort to bug her phone calls and there was certainly no monitoring of her in Paris as there was strong evidence the British Authorities had no way of knowing she was in Paris at the time of the accident.
Tomlinson was arrested by French authorities in July 2006 as part of their inquiry into the death of Diana. French police were also reported to have seized computer files and personal papers from his home in Cannes.
Relationship with Dodi Fayed
One of the main motives which have been advanced for alleged murder include suggestions Diana was pregnant with Dodi Fayed's child and the couple were about to get engaged. The alleged dislike of the idea of a non-Christian within the British Royal Family meant such a relationship between the mother of the future king and a prominent Egyptian Muslim would not be tolerated. In Al-Fayed's view, which he repeated in court at the inquest in February 2008, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana's sister, and numerous others, were all involved in a plot to kill the Princess and Dodi Fayed, his son. Jeffrey Steinberg of the Executive Intelligence Review, a publication of the American Lyndon LaRouche movement, has also put forward theories that the Princess of Wales was murdered by the security services under the instructions of Prince Philip. An article in The Daily Telegraph in 1998 reporting the EIR conspiracy theories, alleged earlier links between the EIR and Al-Fayed, while Francis Wheen reported the following year that Michael Cole, then Al-Fayed's spokesman, had advised journalists to contact Steinberg.
Mohamed Al-Fayed made the assertion in television interviews that the couple were going to announce their engagement on the Monday after the accident: 1 September 1997. Operation Paget commented that an announcement of such magnitude from the Princess of Wales would have been a substantial media event of worldwide interest and would have required much preparation. No evidence that any such preparation had been made was found.
CCTV evidence shown at the inquest only indicates that Dodi left Alberto Repossi jewellers on the 30 August with nothing more than a catalogue. Repossi had said in 2003 that he had placed the ring on Diana's finger in a St Tropez hotel, and resized it for future collection in Paris, but later admitted to writer Martyn Gregory that he had received "legal papers" from Mohamed Al-Fayed, a client for more than 20 years. Al-Fayed himself had said the couple chose the ring in Monte Carlo, and Dodi had picked it up in Paris the day before he died after it had been altered. The statements of Mohamed Al-Fayed was contradicted by the statements of Claude Roulet, a shop assistant, and the CCTV. A CCTV recording demonstrated that a ring had been bought by a Ritz hotel official after the couple's death.
A few hours before the accident, on the afternoon of 30 August, Diana's journalist friend, Richard Kay received a call on his mobile phone from Diana in which she asked about what was likely to appear in the following day's Sunday papers about her. During this call, she made no mention of any announcement she intended to make.
More revealing was the statement given by Diana's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, who testified that in a phone conversation with Diana on Friday 29 August, Diana spoke about Dodi Fayed in a manner that gave her sister the impression the relationship was on "stony ground". Statements from other friends and confidantes she spoke to in the week before her death including her butler Paul Burrell, her friend Lady Annabel Goldsmith, and her spiritual adviser Rita Rogers were unanimous in stating she was firm about not wanting to get engaged or married to anyone at that point in her life. A week before she died, the princess had told Goldsmith: "I need marriage like a rash on my face."
Her former private secretary, Patrick Jephson, said to the BBC in reaction to the publication of the Operation Paget Report in December 2006 that her facial expression in the CCTV footage of her at the Paris Ritz on her final evening with Dodi Fayed was one she would wear when she was disgruntled with a situation. CCTV images released on October 6 taken just minutes before their deaths, show a relaxed Diana and Dodi affectionately holding hands.
An inquiry witness was Hasnat Khan, a Muslim heart surgeon of Pakistani origin based in London, who had a relationship with Diana for two years. Diana had even explored the possibility of marriage with him. This had been met with no opposition from the Royal Family and Prince Charles had given it his blessing. Khan stated that he had received some racist hate mail from members of the public because of the relationship but he had no reason to take what was said in this hate mail seriously. He also stated that he felt the relationship was not opposed by either the Royal Family or any other branch of the British Government including the security services. Paul Burrell stated that Diana was still not over her break-up with Khan at the time of her death.
It was also pointed out that Dodi and Diana had only first met each other just under seven weeks before the accident, at Mohamed Al-Fayed's villa in St. Tropez on 14 July, meaning there were only 47 days from their first meeting until the night of the accident. Of those days, their schedules permitted them to be together for an absolute maximum of 35 days. From analysis of Diana's actual movements, it is likely they had only spent approximately 23 days together before the accident.
John Macnamara, a former senior detective at Scotland Yard, headed Al-Fayed's own investigation for five years from 1997. Cross examined at the inquest on 14 February he conceded that he had found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy to kill the Princess, or that she was engaged or pregnant at the time of her death, apart from the claims Al-Fayed had relayed to him.
In January 2004, the former coroner of The Queen's Household, Dr. John Burton, said (in an interview with The Times) that he attended a post-mortem examination of the Princess's body at Fulham mortuary, where he personally examined her womb and found her not to be pregnant.
In an effort to prove the assertions made by Mohamed Al-Fayed, Operation Paget had scientific tests carried out on pre-transfusion blood found in the footwell of the seat in the wrecked Mercedes the Princess of Wales occupied at the time of the accident. This blood was found to have no trace of the hCG hormone associated with pregnancy.
The inquiry also extensively interviewed friends of Diana's who were in close contact with her in the weeks leading up to her death. The evidence obtained from these witnesses was of a very sensitive nature and most of it was not included in Operation Paget's criminal investigation report. However, it was reported that friends said she was in her normal menstrual cycle and there was evidence she was using contraception. Her friend, Rosa Monckton, said in an interview to a BBC documentary on the conspiracy theories in December 2006 that Diana had her period while on holiday with her about ten days before she died.
Mohamed Al-Fayed's persistence in asserting Diana was pregnant led him to get members of his staff to tell the media that on their final day together, Diana and his son had visited a villa he owned in Paris with a view to choosing a room "for the baby". While the couple had indeed visited the villa, the circumstances of the visit were exaggerated to say it lasted two hours and was in the presence of a prominent Italian interior designer. A security guard at the villa, Reuben Murrell, felt uncomfortable about lying about the matter and sold his story to The Sun stating the visit lasted just under thirty minutes and was not in the company of any interior designer. He provided stills from CCTV to prove this and said he had been in the presence of Diana and Dodi for the entirety of their visit and there was no conversation about them coming to live at the villa. He later resigned from Mohamed Al-Fayed's employment and initiated an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal after Al-Fayed had successfully sued him for breach of contract because of the CCTV images he supplied to The Sun. Senior members of Al-Fayed's staff made derogatory comments about Murrell and Trevor Rees-Jones in their statements to Operation Paget.
In 2004, a Channel 4 documentary, The Diana Conspiracy, refuting the conspiracy theories claimed the butler at the villa who gave an interview to the ITV documentary Diana: Secrets Behind the Crash in June 1998 who claimed to have shown the couple around with a view to them living there was not even present at the villa on the day as he was on vacation.
Mohamed Al-Fayed first claimed that the Princess of Wales was pregnant at the time of her death to the Daily Express in May 2001. "If it is true, it is strange that he sat upon this important information for three and a half years," Scott Baker said at the inquest.
Absence of CCTV images
The absence of CCTV images showing the Mercedes' journey from the hotel to the crash site has been frequently cited as evidence of an organized conspiracy. In a submission to the Minister for Justice, Scotland for Public Inquiry in February 2003, Mohamed Al-Fayed stated that there were approximately 10 video cameras on the route taken by the Mercedes, including one on the entrance to the tunnel itself, yet there are no recordings from any of these cameras for the night in question. In December 2006, The Independent newspaper published an article stating there were more than 14 CCTV cameras in the Pont de l'Alma underpass, yet none have recorded footage of the fatal collision.
Judge Hervé Stéphan was appointed as Examining Magistrate in this case on 2 September 1997. On that day, by Judicial Order, he tasked the Brigade Criminelle with identifying all video and photographic images along the route taken by the Mercedes. Lieutenant Eric Gigou of the Brigade Criminelle led the team that carried out that work, initially by retracing the route several times and drawing up a list of possible locations. His report showed that the team identified ten locations of CCTV cameras. None of these had any images relevant to the inquiry, since they were principally security cameras facing the entrances to buildings. Most of the cameras were not maintained by the City of Paris: the owners of the buildings to which they were attached operated them privately.
There was a traffic-monitoring camera above the underpass in the Place de l’Alma itself but this was under the control of la Compagnie de Circulation Urbaine de Paris (Paris Urban Traffic Unit). That department closed down at about 11 p.m., had no night duty staff and made no recordings. Officers in the Police Headquarters Information and Command Centre could continue to view the pictures shown by the traffic camera in real time but could not control it. There would be no reason for those in the overnight control room in Paris to be viewing that camera in particular, before the crash.
The subject of the CCTV cameras is dealt with in Chapter 5 of the Operation Paget report. It was also found that a photograph that was published in a book by David Cohen 'Diana, Death of a Goddess' and captioned as having been taken just before the car entered the tunnel was in fact taken by a photographer as the car left the back of the Paris Ritz.
White Fiat Uno and James Andanson
Analysis of the wreckage of the Mercedes revealed it had glancing contact with a white Fiat Uno car which left traces of paint on the Mercedes bodywork but extensive attempts by the French police to find the vehicle involved were unsuccessful.
Mohamed Al-Fayed alleged in his July 2005 statement to Operation Paget, and at other times, that the white Fiat Uno was being used by MI6 as a means of causing the Mercedes it to swerve and thereby crash into the side of the tunnel. Al-Fayed further alleged that the Fiat Uno involved was owned by a French photojournalist named Jean-Paul James Andanson a security services agent according to Fayed, who had photographed Diana while she was at his villa in St. Tropez in July 1997. Andanson's death in May 2000, Al-Fayed claimed, was either due to guilt over what he had done or because he was assassinated by the French or British security services to silence him.
Operation Paget found that the white Fiat Uno he owned was in an unroadworthy condition, being nine years old at the time with 325,000 km on the clock (suggesting that the little car had been driven 27,000 miles per annum) and had not been maintained for several years before the death of Diana. Andanson's neighbours confirmed the veracity of this evidence. Andanson had sold the car in October 1997. Operation Paget concluded it extremely unlikely because of the car's condition and the fact Andanson had so openly disposed of it that it was the one at the scene of the accident in Paris.
French police examined James Andanson's car as part of their effort to trace the one that had come into contact with the Mercedes with a view to prosecuting the driver for failing to render assistance. They reached the same conclusion Operation Paget investigators were to, seven years later. The French police spent a year after the accident searching for the vehicle and eliminated over 4,000 white Fiat Unos from their inquiry. Operation Paget decided it would be unlikely renewed enquiries would identify the vehicle involved as such a long period had elapsed since the accident. It concluded the threat of prosecution for a custodial offence probably deterred the driver from coming forward at the time.
A retired major in the French Brigade Criminelle, Jean Claude Mules, gave evidence to the inquest in February 2008. Andanson had been interviewed by French police in February 1998, and had been able to provide documentary evidence about his movements on the previous 30 and 31 August which had satisfied them that he could not have been the driver of the Fiat Uno involved. These demonstrated that Andanson could only have been at his home in Lignieres, 177 miles from Paris, at the time of the crash.
James Andanson died in May 2000. The official verdict was suicide. His body was found in a black, burnt-out BMW in a forest in the south of France, the doors were locked - with no sign of the car keys. Andanson's death was attributed to problems in his private life and evidence was uncovered from his friends and associates that he had talked of suicide long before the death of Diana and he had even mentioned details of the social circumstances in which he would take his life and the method by which he would do it. Their testimony was consistent with the way Andanson actually took his life.
The Paget report states that when the car was found, Andanson's body was in the driver's seat of the car, his head was detached and lay between the front seats. There was also a hole in his left temple. The French pathologist concluded this was caused by the intense heat of the fire rather than, for example, a bullet wound.
Operation Paget found no evidence Andanson was known to any security service and, contrary to Al-Fayed's claims, his death was thoroughly investigated by French police (although the whereabouts of the car keys has never been explained). A break-in at his former workplace in June 2000 alleged to have been carried out by security services was found to be unconnected to his death as no items related to him were stolen. The break-in was investigated by French police who to this day have not found the criminals responsible.
Nevertheless, Andanson's widow Elizabeth, and their son James have rejected the idea that Andanson's death was suicide. The family have pressed French officials to conduct a murder investigation into Andanson's death 400-miles from his home. Andanson was in high spirits over his new job with the Sipa Agency.
An alternative explanation for the cause of the crash has been reports of a bright white flash just before the car entered the tunnel, blinding the driver. Richard Tomlinson made this allegation at the inquiry, but the veracity of his evidence was found wanting. (see above)
It was found by the authorities that three eyewitness at the scene of the crash referred to seeing a bright flash of light. François Levistre (originally François Levi) made a clear, specific reference to seeing a bright flash, but his three statements to the authorities were in conflict with each other. Both the French detectives investigating after the crash and later the officers who worked on Operation Paget rejected his evidence. With the Mercedes behind him, he claimed to have seen the flash in his rear-view mirror and recounted other elements of what he saw while he was negotiating the difficult bend out of the tunnel. Crucially, however, his testimony was directly contradicted by his then-wife, who sat in the passenger seat next to him. However, eye witness Brian Anderson, an American tourist told detectives that he saw a bright flash too.
French Police in 1997 were aware of Levistre's conviction in Rouen during 1989 for dishonesty and his subsequent prison sentence, and he was not thought by them to be a reliable witness. Television documentaries produced by Channel 4 in 2004 and the BBC in 2006 both raised this issue; he appeared as a witness at the British inquiry via a video link in October 2007. Diana: Secrets Behind the Crash (3 June 1998) though, an ITV programme presented by Nicholas Owen, then ITN's Royal Correspondent, gave enough weight to the claims of Levistre that 93% of viewers polled by the Mirror newspaper just after the broadcast believed there had been a bright light flash at the time of the crash.
The detail of eyewitness testimony was thoroughly reviewed and Operation Paget officers succeeded in uncovering two new witnesses. Other eyewitness testimony made little reference to the appearance of any inexplicable flashes at the crash site. Several witnesses who would be expected to have seen a blinding flash made no reference to one.
In any event, the detailed crash reconstruction revealed that the chain of events that led to the car unavoidably colliding with the pillar started well before it was at the mouth of the tunnel where the flash is alleged to have been discharged. Furthermore, a strobe light of the type that was alleged to have been used is so powerful that a flash emitted from it would have been bright enough to illuminate a very wide area. It would have likely blinded not only Henri Paul, but also the driver of the white Fiat Uno, the pursuing paparazzi and witnesses standing at the road side. The Operation Paget report concluded the alleged flash did not happen.
There was some media discussion in April 2006 suggesting that Diana was a faithful seatbelt user and therefore the fact that both her and Dodi's belts either failed or were not used was sinister and might suggest sabotage. Other sources question if she did in fact use her belt all the time, as suggested.
"What is certain is that she was not wearing a seat belt and this made things worse. We would like to think that if she had been wearing a seat belt, we'd have been able to save her," said Prof. André Lienhart, who reviewed the emergency services' response for the French government investigation of the incident. CNN did an analysis of the crash in early September 1997 and concluded that injuries would have been minor had the occupants been wearing seat belts. The conclusions were provisional owing to limited data about the specific Mercedes model as the limousine was not sold in the US.
Analysis of the wreckage of the car after its repatriation to England in 2005 by a Forensic Accident Investigator from the Transport Research Laboratory of thirty-five years experience on behalf of Operation Paget found that all the seatbelts were in good working order with the exception of the right rear one which was for the seat Diana occupied. Follow up enquiries with French investigators found that they had declared all the seatbelts operational at an examination in October 1998, suggesting the damage to this seatbelt took place after the accident.
Transport to the hospital
The first call to the emergency services switchboard was logged at 12.26 a.m. The SAMU ambulance carrying the Princess arrived at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital at 2.06 a.m. This length of time has prompted much conspiracy-related comment.
The period between the crash and the arrival at the hospital needs to take into account the following: the time taken for emergency services to arrive; the time taken by the Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris to remove the Princess from the damaged car; and the actual journey time from the crash site to the hospital.
Police Officers Sébastien Dorzee and Lino Gagliadorne were the first emergency officials to arrive at the scene at around 12:30 a.m. Sergeants Xavier Gourmelom and Philippe Boyer of the Sapeurs-Pompiers arrived at around 12:32 a.m. Doctor Jean-Marc Martino, a specialist in anaesthetics and intensive care treatment and the doctor in charge of the SAMU ambulance, arrived at around 12:40 a.m. The Princess was removed from the car at 1:00 a.m. She then went into cardiac arrest. Following external cardiopulmonary resuscitation the Princess of Wales’s heart started beating again. She was moved to the SAMU ambulance at 1:18 a.m.
The ambulance departed the crash scene at 1:41 a.m. and arrived at the hospital at 2:06 a.m.—a journey time of approximately 26 minutes. This included a stop at the Gare d’Austerlitz ordered by Dr Martino because of the drop in the blood pressure of the Princess of Wales and the necessity to deal with it. The ambulance was travelling slowly on his express instructions. The doctor was concerned about the Princess of Wales’s blood pressure and the effects on her medical condition of deceleration and acceleration.
The SAMU ambulance carrying the Princess of Wales passed the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital on the Ile de la Cité en route to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital. The decision to transfer the Princess to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital was taken by Dr Marc Lejay who was on despatch duty in SAMU Control on that night, in consultation with Dr Derossi, who was at the scene. The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital was the main reception centre for multiple trauma patients in Paris. The Hôtel-Dieu was not equipped to deal with the injuries the Princess of Wales had sustained. Dr Marc Lejay stated: ‘The Hôtel-Dieu hospital on the ‘Ile de la Cité’ is closer but not equipped with heart surgery teams or neurosurgical teams or teams trained to take patients with multiple injuries.’ Dr Lejay was also aware that Professor Bruno Riou was on duty at the Pitié-Salpêtrière that night and was particularly skilled to treat the Princess of Wales’s injuries. Dr Jean-Marc Martino supported this view.
Embalming of the body
Mohamed Al-Fayed alleged that Diana's body was deliberately embalmed soon after her death to ensure that any pregnancy test at post-mortem would produce a false result.
Operation Paget found that 31 August 1997 was a very hot day in Paris. Diana's body had been stored in an empty room adjacent to the emergency room where she had been treated at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital as the mortuary was on the other side of the hospital grounds and some distance away. Dry ice and air conditioning units were placed in the room to keep it cool but appeared to have little success.
Diana's two sisters and Prince Charles were scheduled to view the body later that afternoon before bringing it back to the United Kingdom, President Jacques Chirac and his wife also wished to pay their respects. This meant there was very little time to prepare the body for viewing and it was clearly unacceptable to present Diana's body to her family and the President of France in its then state.
Faced with this situation, the hospital staff decided to press ahead with embalming with only verbal authority from Madame Martine Monteil, the local superintendent of police, who assured Jean Monceau "that everything would be in order". Under French law, paperwork is required to be completed before undertaking the embalming of any body likely to be subject to a post-mortem. This paperwork was completed but only after the embalming had been carried out, giving rise to allegations of suspicious circumstances. This comes despite there being no way the hospital staff could have known whether or not Diana was pregnant as a pregnancy test would have been irrelevant to her post crash treatment and accordingly was not carried out.
The Court Martial of SAS Sniper Danny Nightingale led to a letter written by witness 'Soldier N' and sent to his in-laws coming to wider attention. This individual, Nightingale's former room-mate, is currently in prison for illegally hiding firearms and ammunition. On 17 August 2013, the Metropolitan Police announced they were reviewing evidence that 'Soldier N' had boasted that the SAS were behind the death of Princess Diana. The parents of 'Soldier N''s estranged wife reportedly wrote to the SAS's commanding officer, claiming 'Soldier N' had told his wife the unit "arranged" Diana's death and it was "covered up".
The information was reportedly passed onto Scotland Yard by the Royal Military Police. However Scotland Yard stressed that this information will not lead to a re-investigation and that they are examining its "relevance and credibility". They also confirmed that Prince Charles and Mohamed Al-Fayed were being kept informed as preliminary examination progressed. At the end of November 2013, Scotland Yard ended its study of the SAS allegations and released a statement: "The Metropolitan Police Service has scoped the information and is in the process of drawing up conclusions, which will be communicated to the families and interested parties first, before any further comment can be made," On 16 December it emerged from Sky News reports that there is "no credible evidence" that the SAS was involved in the death of the Princess and the others, and thus no reason to re-open the investigation.
Conspiracy theories in contemporary art
Diana has been depicted a number of times in contemporary art since her death. Some artworks have referenced the conspiracy theories, as well as paying tribute to Diana's compassion, and acknowledging her perceived victimhood.
In July 1999, British artist Tracey Emin, at the height of her Turner Prize fame, created a number of monoprint drawings inspired by the public and private life of Diana for a themed exhibition called Temple of Diana held at The Blue Gallery, London. Among the works was a delicate sketch of a rose drawn next to the phrase, It makes perfect sense to know they killed you.
British artist Stella Vine provoked media controversy in 2004 when Charles Saatchi bought Hi Paul can you come over I'm really frightened (2003), a painting by her of Diana, Princess of Wales. The work's title came from the thick red text painted across the canvas, a reference to Diana's butler Paul Burrell. Vine painted as many as 30 paintings of Diana, having become fascinated by conspiracy theories into the Princess' tragic car crash which she had read on the Internet. Vine destroyed many of these paintings soon after they were created. She put them in a skip as she didn't have enough space to dry nor store the wet paintings. The only one she kept was later added to Saatchi's collection.
Vine said she was upset that some people, including her relatives, didn't like her image of Diana, as she believed it was not a disrespectful picture but it was in fact a self-portrait as much as depiction of Diana: "The picture is about two women. One who lived in Kensington Palace. And the other who lives down the Whitecross Street. "I look at the picture," says Vine, "and I also see myself."" In 2005, a new Vine painting of Diana, Murdered, pregnant and embalmed (2005), was bought by singer George Michael for £25,000, reported in The Sun newspaper which condemned it as "sick".
Conspiracy theories in other media
Unlawful Killing, a British documentary film about the deaths of Diana and Dodi, was shown in Cannes while the Cannes Film Festival was in progress during May 2011. It was directed by Keith Allen and funded by Mohamed Al-Fayed. The film will not be shown in British cinemas, lawyers for the producers having suggested that 87 cuts would need to be made before it could be certified for release, Following its failure to gain insurance against possible legal action following putative distribution in the United States, the film has been shelved.
Notes and references
- Paul Webster and Stuart Millar "Diana verdict sparks Fayed appeal", The Guardian, 4 September 1999
- "Diana jury blames paparazzi and Henri Paul for her 'unlawful killing'". Daily Telegraph. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- Martyn Gregory "Stranded on Planet Fayed", The Spectator, 27 June 2007
- Tina Brown The Diana Chronicles, Random House, 2007, p.406
- Louise Jack "The Express' and Diana: Cover-ups, spies and conspiracies", The Independent, 18 December 2006
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