- September 18, 2017
Was Princess Diana murdered? Exploring the conspiracies
Twenty years ago, a car crash in a Parisian tunnel made international news. On the 31st August 1997, Diana Spencer, otherwise known as the Princess of Wales, died in that car crash. She was not the only victim, but she was the one whose name was scorched across headlines for the next twenty years, the one whose funeral was broadcast around the world. But even two decades on, there is something about the accident which fascinates many people. Was there a conspiracy to murder Princess Diana?
There are plenty of theories. Were the SAS involved? What was the mysterious white car? What was the bright flash seen before the crash? Was it even an accident? But picking apart the facts of this case can be difficult. While the official investigations from both the French and the British authorities found that the car crash was an accident, this has not satisfied some people. Instead, let’s look at the competing theories:
The Official Version
Along with Dodi Al-Fayed, son of an Egyptian billionaire, Diana had been out enjoying an evening in the French capital. The two were supposedly romantically involved. Leaving the hotel, the couple’s driver, Henri Paul, goaded the ever-present paparazzi. Paul had been drinking that night. Their car sped off, trying to outrun the photographers, some of whom gave chase. At this point, Paul lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Diana, Dodi, and Paul died at the scene, while Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived, though was in a coma and maintained no memory of the accident. According to the resulting investigation, Paul’s drinking likely caused the crash, though some blamed the influence of the paparazzi who had been chasing the vehicle. But not everyone believes this version of events.
The Pregnancy Theory
One of the most popular theories was spread some six months after the accident. Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi’s father (and the former owner of the famous Harrods department store in London) told people that Diana had been pregnant with Dodi’s child at the time of the accident. He also claimed that Dodi had planned to propose that night.
When there was an inquest into the accident, Mohamed Al-Fayed accused certain members of the Royal Family – the family of Prince Charles, whom Diana had divorced – of conspiring to kill Diana when they learned of the pregnancy. He cited the Royal’s family’s displeasure at the idea that Princes Harry and William might have a Muslim sibling or a Muslim stepfather. This was never proved.
Matters were complicated due to the strange way in which Diana’s body was treated after her death. She was embalmed, a procedure which uses certain chemicals and processes which make testing the blood for signs of pregnancy impossible. While the British police tried to run tests on blood samples from inside the crashed car, they were unable to find evidence of a pregnancy. But that did not stop people believing the theory.
The Bright Flash
Witness testimonies made up a large part of the investigation. One such witness, Brian Anderson, claimed to have been sitting in the passenger seat of a cab which was passing the doomed vehicle. Anderson said he witnessed a “significant flash” and a “very loud bang” just before the crash.
The story was seemingly corroborated by Francois Levistre, another witness, who had been driving the car in front of Diana’s Mercedes. He also saw the light, describing it as being like one from a traffic camera, though blamed it on a motorbike who was passing the Mercedes. The motorbike was overtaking the Mercedes, then there was the flash, and seconds later, the car crashed. Levistre even mentioned that one of the two people riding the motorbike went over to the wreckage, examined it, and gave a gesture he took to mean ‘ok’.
Such a move resembles supposed plans to have killed Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia. The plan included using a bright flash to force a fatal traffic accident. MI6, however, denies the existence of any such assassination plans.
The White Car
Another strange element of the crash was the mysterious white car. When examining the wreckage of the Mercedes Diana and Dodi had been using, police found that it had made contact with a Fiat Uno, the white paint marks still emblazoned down the side. Despite a lengthy search, they were never able to find this vehicle.
Mohamed Al-Fayed, speaking again on the matter, claimed that the Fiat belonged to a photographer, a Frenchman named James Andanson, who did own a similar vehicle. Furthermore, Al-Fayed claimed that the photographer was an intelligence agent. However, the inquest suggested that Andanson was nearly 200 miles away at the time.
Things got weirder when, in 2000, James Andanson was found dead. His body was discovered 400 miles from his home in the shell of a burned-out car. Authorities ruled the death a suicide, though his family disagreed. According to one report by the Metropolitan Police, the body was sitting behind the steering wheel, though the head had been decapitated and had been placed between the front seats. The death remains, officially, a suicide. The white Fiat Uno was never found.
The intelligence services play a key role in many theories. For example, some have suggested that Henri Paul was a double agent. Richard Tomlinson, a former member of MI6, spoke in 2008 at another inquest into the death. He admitted that Diana had been monitored by intelligence agencies and that Henri Paul may have been recruited as an informer.
Nominally, Paul was the security manager at the hotel the couple was staying, the Paris Ritz. It was also owned by the Al-Fayed family and Henri Paul had been working there for ten years. But one theory suggests that he may have received money in order to facilitate the crash.
At the inquest, Tomlinson said he had seen the file on Paul which confirmed he was an informer. The details of Paul’s bank accounts also seemed suspicious. Though he only made £35k a year, he had spread as much as £250k across 15 different accounts when the crash happened. There was also a large amount of cash on his person at the time of his death, a payment which Tomlinson was certain came from MI6. But, again, nothing was ever conclusively proved.
Now that we are twenty years on from the accident, the official version of events is commonly accepted as being true. But not by everyone. Though there is not one cohesive alternative theory, the various disparities and insights posted in this article highlight the ways in which people have cast doubt on the death. Was Diana murdered by the Royal family or MI6? We will likely never know the truth.