Chase, paparazzi, Princess Diana’s last hours

On the night between August 30 and 31, Princess Diana was killed in Paris, after a car accident under the Alma bridge. Stalked, like a good part of her life, by paparazzi.

The event has been told many times and the craziest theories have been put forth. Twenty-five years after the death of Princess Diana in a terrible car accident, along with her companion Dodi Al-Fayed, the drama still arouses as much interest and speculation. Here is what happened on the night of August 30-31, 1997.

• Saturday 30 August

Diana will arrive from Sardinia on Saturday 30 August in a private jet with her companion, film producer Dodi Al-Fayed, after a short stopover in London.

• 16.35, arrival at the Ritz

Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed arrive at the Ritz, place Vendôme. The luxury hotel is owned by Dodi Al-Fayed’s father, Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. The establishment’s surveillance cameras filmed the couple walking through the hotel lobby at 4:35 p.m. on August 30. The paparazzi are there, located in front of the hotel.

The couple leave the hotel to go to jeweler Repossi, to choose two rings there, which will be delivered later that evening to their suite.

Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed walk near the Arc de Triomphe, where the producer owns an apartment.

The couple decide to eat at Espadon, the restaurant at the Ritz, after canceling a reservation at the Chez Benoît restaurant because of the paparazzi. According to the book The day Diana died by Christopher Andersen, Dodi Al-Fayed, fearing that photographers would pose as restaurant customers, decides to have dinner delivered to their suite.

As the photographers rush to the front of the hotel, Dodi and Diana try to deceive their vigilance and take the back entrance of the establishment to return to Dodi’s apartment. It is Henri Paul, head of security at the Ritz, who takes the wheel. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones also drives in the vehicle, a Mercedes S280. According to Christopher Andersen, Henri Paul has consumed alcohol, a whiskey and a beer, and his blood alcohol level is more than three times the legal limit in France.

• 00:23, crashed

The car, pursued by the paparazzi, drives into the tunnel under the Alma bridge at more than 100 kilometers per hour. At 12.23 the car swerved and hit the bridge’s thirteenth pier. The driver and Dodi Al Fayed are killed instantly.

Doctor Frédéric Maillez, who works for SOS Doctors, happens to be on the scene. He notifies the damaged car and is the first doctor on the scene. He repeatedly told about the attempt to save the Princess of Wales.

“I opened the door and looked inside,” he told the AP news agency. “Four people were inside, two of them appeared to be dead, unresponsive or unresponsive, and the other two were alive but seriously injured.”

“The front passenger was screaming, he was breathing. He could wait a few minutes. The passenger was on her knees, on the floor of the Mercedes, her head was down,” said the doctor, who did not recognize Diana. .

“She was having trouble breathing. She needed help quickly.” Doctor Maillez calls the emergency services and gives the princess first aid with a breathing bag he is wearing.

The car in which Princess Diana died, 31 August 1997.
The car in which Princess Diana died on 31 August 1997. © Pierre Boussel – AFP

“She had lost consciousness. Thanks to the breathing bag, she got some energy back, but she couldn’t speak”. The time is 01:18.

• At 1h45 the queen is informed about the accident

The British ambassador is the first to be informed of the accident. He contacts Robin Janvrin, private secretary to the queen, who informs the sovereign on holiday at Balmoral in Scotland that the princess has been in a serious accident.

• 04.25 Diana succumbs to her injuries

The princess was transported to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, where she arrived at 02.00. She goes into cardiac arrest during the journey. She dies an hour later despite intense efforts to revive her. Diana, Princess of Wales, was pronounced dead at 4.25am.

Trevor Rees-Jones, who was in the front, will be the sole survivor of the crash.

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