For the past 20 years, people all over the world have mourned and puzzled over the death of Diana Frances Spencer, Princess of Wales. The 36-year-old publicly loved princess died in a car crash Aug. 31, 1997 in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris. Her alleged boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and the car’s driver, Henri Paul, were also killed.
Only her body guard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the accident. She left behind her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who were 12 and 15 at the time.
Diana and Dodi had just returned from a vacation in France where they were photographed together by the paparazzi who quickly speculated about the beginning of a relationship between the two. They ended their vacation with a night in Paris before she was supposed to go home to London.
They were on their way to a restaurant, but because of the paparazzi was drawing too much attention, Dodi told Henri to go back to the hotel they were staying at. After having dinner at the hotel, they made the decision to go back to Dodi’s apartment.
Their car was speeding away from the paparazzi when it hit a concrete pillar inside the tunnel. It was 12:25 a.m.
Henri, the driver, was often credited as the cause of the crash. Witnesses say they saw him drinking at the hotel bar earlier that evening, and his blood alcohol level reported that he was drunk.
The jury singled that as a contributory factor to the crash, though the samples taken from him caused some confusion.
However, Prince William and Prince Harry have publicly blamed the paparazzi for the accident.
“I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying in the backseat of the car,” Harry said. “William and I know that. We’ve been told that numerous times by people that know that that was the case.”
He continued: “She’d had a quite severe head injury. She was very much still alive in the backseat, and those people that caused the accident, instead of helping, were taking photographs of her dying in the backseat.”
Diana’s death was often questioned, especially by those interested in conspiracy theories. Here are seven of the most common:
1. Princess Diana was assassinated to prevent her from marrying a Muslim man.
Henri’s father, Jean Paul, said British police told him that Diana had been “bumped off’ by the royal family to prevent her from marrying Dodi Fayed, who is a Muslim man.
“Diana was killed and my son was killed,” He said. “I believe they were both murdered. My son was simply collateral damage of a plot to kill Diana and they killed him as well.”
However, the police dismissed those reports and said there was no credible evidence to support the claim. But James Hewitt, a former boyfriend of Diana’s said during an investigation into her death that he was “warned off” and received phone calls from people telling him to end the relationship.
2. Diana was pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s baby.
Another reason why some people believe Diana was assassinated was the rumor that she was pregnant with Dodi’s baby.
Dodi’s father claimed in 2003 that Diana called and told him the night she died that she was pregnant.
Though blood tests done at the scene of the accident found no trace of Diana being pregnant, people into this conspiracy believe that those who orchestrated her mother manipulated the evidence to hide her pregnancy,
3. Princess Diana’s murder was covered up by the British Army’s special forces unit.
A source within the SAS Unit reportedly said that most members of the regiment believe Diana’s death wasn’t an accident, but claim that they were not involved. They felt the need to defend themselves after the wife of a former sergeant at the center of the allegations — known ominously as Soldier N — told police he had described the plot to kill Diana several times before they divorced.
According to her, Herni was blinded by an “intense flash of light” moments before he lost control of the car. The allegations have never been confirmed.
4. Princess Diana’s driver was framed.
Another conspiracy theory alleges that the blood samples used to verify his alcohol levels were taken from another corpse. Investigative journalist John Morgan wrote in a book that tons of evidence points to the fact that Henri was not drunk that night.
“When you carefully put all the pieces of this huge complex evidential jigsaw together, you can see this is a dead person who has been framed,” he wrote. This evidence is directed to a supposed second body in the morgue at the same time as Henri’s that was labeled “XM,” meaning “unknown male.”
He believes the cover-up was orchestrated by French authorities.
5. Prince Charles plotted to kill her by tampering with her breaks.
About 10 months after Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s separation, she wrote a letter to her butler claiming that Charles was plotting to kill her so he could marry Tiggy Legge-Bourke, her sons’ former nanny.
“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,” she wrote. “Camilla is nothing but a decoy, so we are all being used by the man in every sense of the word.”
6. Prince Phillip wanted to kill Princess Diana.
Dodi’s father, Mohamed Fayed, claimed that the couple was killed by Prince Phillip, Charles’ father. He said Phillip planned the murder to prevent the couple from getting married and having a baby. That claim was never followed through.
7. Princess Diana faked her own death.
Some people believed that Diana faked her own death so she could slip away, change her identity and start a new life with Dodi away from all the public scrutiny. Some people believe that even despite the the postmortem examination of the bodies, two different bodies who are not Diana and Dodi are buried in their place.
Other people believe the plot to fake her own death when wrong, and she died in the car accident.