It was a week that stunned the world — from the sudden and tragic death of Princess Diana to her poignant funeral watched on TV by two billion people. Next weekend, in a BBC documentary, Princes William and Harry open their hearts about those cataclysmic days in 1997, as their lives — and the monarchy — changed for ever. In a powerful and moving series, JONATHAN MAYO reconstructs that week, through the eyes of royals, politicians, Diana’s family and the devastated public…
Diana and Dodi have been enjoying a nine-day Mediterranean cruise on the Al Fayeds’ £12 million yacht Jonikal. As Mohamed Al Fayed hoped, a romance has recently started between his son and the world’s most famous woman.
On August 4, an Italian photographer took a picture of them embracing. ‘The Kiss’ as it became known, was later sold for £250,000. Diana has used the cruise to get back at Camilla Parker Bowles.
On the day Prince Charles held a 50th birthday party for Camilla, Diana was at St Tropez in a leopard skin print swimsuit. Dodi had been due to marry his American girlfriend Kelly Fisher on August 9. Instead, today he flies to Paris with Diana and Britain on Sunday.
Timeline of tragedy: 4.35pm, Dodi and Diana arrive at the Ritz Hotel just hours before the crash
Saturday, August 30, 8am (central European time)
The Jonikal is anchored off Cala di Volpe in Sardinia. Diana is brought a breakfast of fresh fruit and orange juice by Dodi’s butler, René Delorm.
Diana tells René how much she is looking forward to seeing her sons William and Harry. René has recently been busy shielding his boss from angry calls from ex-girlfriend Kelly Fisher.
Nearby, two Al Fayed bodyguards — Trevor Rees-Jones and ex-Royal Marine Kez Wingfield — are getting ready for the flight to Paris. They only found out last night and have had little time to sort out security arrangements.
Diana and Dodi have been enjoying a nine-day Mediterranean cruise on the Al Fayeds’ £12 million yacht Jonikal
In Paris, acting head of security at the Ritz Hotel, Henri Paul, 41, is on his way to play tennis with his friend Claude Garrec.
Paul is in a good mood — on Thursday he passed his pilot’s annual medical assessment. He tells Claude the Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed are arriving at Le Bourget airport that afternoon and it’s his job to collect them.
The two men drive though the Pont de l’Alma tunnel — an accident black-spot. In 15 years, eight people have died there.
Diana and Dodi are having a swim in a quiet cove. The paparazzi are close by, taking pictures.
Diana calls friend Susie Kassem and says she’s looking forward to coming home. They arrange to meet in London on Monday.
The Al Fayed party are squeezed into three taxis on their way to Olbia airport, where the Al Fayed Gulfstream jet is waiting. With Diana and Dodi is the ‘Reverend’ Myriah Daniels — a holistic healer from California who has been Dodi’s masseuse for six years. Her business card says she specialises in ‘Wholistic Healing for Musician’s Injuries & Caring for the Well Be-ing of People’ (sic).
The jet finally takes off. Dodi and Diana are seated in the luxurious armchairs at the front; they hold hands, talking non-stop.
Earlier in the month, Diana had flown on holiday to Greece with her friend Rosa Monckton in the same jet. ‘Look at this, Rosa, isn’t it awful?’ Diana had said, pointing at the pink seats and green carpet covered with pharaoh’s heads.
The Gulfstream lands at Le Bourget. The British Embassy does not know Diana is coming, so there is no extra security.
Waiting next to a Range Rover and a Mercedes are Dodi’s regular driver, Philippe Dourneau, and Henri Paul. Dourneau is surprised as he’s never seen Paul drive for the Al Fayeds before. Earlier that day, he had to show him how to operate the Range Rover’s controls.
Acting head of security at the Ritz Hotel, Henri Paul, 41, (pictured) was driving the car
The two-car convoy is leaving Le Bourget. Immediately, Diana and Dodi’s car is surrounded by scooters with photographers riding pillion. It’s Dodi’s first experience of paparazzi up close and he doesn’t like it. He tells Dourneau to lose them, so the Frenchman carries out a swift exit onto the Paris ring road. Diana praises his driving.
In the car behind, Dodi’s healer, Myriah Daniels, begs Henri Paul to slow down. He clips the kerb as they exit the motorway.
On his two-way radio, Rees-Jones tells Wingfield, riding with Henri Paul, to take the luggage to Dodi’s apartment on the Rue Arsène Houssaye, where the couple will spend the night.
Dodi and Diana arrive at the Villa Windsor on the Route du Champ d’Entraînement — former home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The Al Fayeds have taken a 100-year lease on it and Mohamed has told Dodi to show Diana the house. In September, the family are auctioning 40,000 items of Windsor possessions.
Watching them arrive on CCTV is the villa’s head of security, Ben Murrell. The last time he had seen Dodi was in July when he was with Kelly Fisher.
Kelly wanted to see if there was anything she and Dodi could put in the house they were buying in Malibu. Having welcomed Dodi and Diana, Murrell watches them on the CCTV as they walk around.
Many of the 14 rooms are empty and Diana seems disinterested.
Henri Paul arrives at the Villa and Murrell opens the gate. Paul pulls the Range Rover up alongside Murrell, winds down the window and, to Murrell’s surprise, pulls him towards the car, saying: ‘Yeah, Ben, you good?’ Paul’s breath smells of food and wine.
Diana and Dodi arrive at the Ritz Hotel in the Place Vendôme. Mohamed Al Fayed has recently refurbished it at a cost of £100 million. The couple are greeted by 46-year-old Claude Roulet, the assistant to the President of the Ritz. Roulet is nervous.
‘I’ve never spoken to a princess before,’ he tells Diana. ‘How would you like to be addressed?’ She puts her hand on his arm. ‘Just call me Diana,’ she says.
Roulet takes them to the Imperial Suite on the first floor. Diana walks to the wrought–iron balcony and draws back the curtains. Outside is a large group of paparazzi. Diana decides not to go shopping for William and Harry, and so a Ritz employee is sent out with a list of presents to buy.
The two young princes are at Balmoral, enjoying the last day of the holiday before school.
4.50pm/3.50pm (UK time)
Diana calls her medium, Rita Rogers, in Derbyshire. She confides in her regularly. The call goes to the answering machine, but when she hears the Princess’s voice, Rogers quickly picks up the receiver. Rogers later told police: ‘There was no talk of marriage or engagement.’
5.45pm/4.45pm (UK time)
Dodi plans to do some discreet shopping of his own. He intends to visit a jeweller’s called Repossi across the square from the Ritz to buy Diana a present. Dodi and Rees-Jones leave the Ritz by the main entrance and jump into a car for the 30-second journey to the jeweller’s.
There was a gold ring in the window of Repossi’s Monaco store Diana had liked. Dodi has asked his staff to make sure it would be here today for him to look at.
CCTV footage showing Diana, Princess of Wales with Dodi Fayed inside the lift at the Ritz Hotel in Paris
The owner, Alberto Repossi, has broken his holiday to open the Paris store especially. Repossi watches his staff show a collection of rings, as Dodi tries to describe the Monaco ring.
In Knightsbridge, Daily Mail journalist Richard Kay is out shopping when his mobile phone rings. It’s Diana calling from the Imperial Suite. The two have been friends for five years.
As they talk, Kay heads to his car for some privacy. Diana explains that she’s decided to withdraw from public life and live as a private person: ‘But I sometimes wonder, what’s the point? Whatever I do, it’s never good enough for some people.’
Diana asks Kay what’s going to be in tomorrow’s paper about her and why the media dislikes Dodi. ‘Is it because he’s a millionaire?’ Kay explains it’s nothing to do with Dodi’s money, but rather suspicions about his father.
Diana talks about William and Harry then tells Kay: ‘Unplug your phone and get a good night’s sleep.’
5.50pm/4.50pm (UK time)
Diana calls Balmoral to speak to her sons. William breaks off from playing with his cousins, Peter and Zara Phillips, to chat; then he calls his brother. Harry never likes talking to his parents on the phone, so the call is brief; besides, tomorrow they will see each other.
In Repossi, Dodi has chosen five rings, but he’s not happy with any of them. He walks back to the Ritz with Wingfield, who is keeping an eye out for the paparazzi.
Claude Roulet is back at Repossi — this time to negotiate a discount for all five rings, on Dodi’s behalf. Then he spots a ring on Alberto’s wife’s finger he thinks is like the one Dodi is after, and it is considerably cheaper.
Angela Repossi takes it off, and cleans it, explaining it’s from a range called Tell Me Yes launching next month.
Roulet heads back to the Ritz with the ring and knocks on the door of the Imperial Suite.
Dodi motions to him to talk quietly. Roulet tells him about the Tell Me Yes ring and, without looking at it, Dodi says it’s the one he wants.
‘Are you going to give Diana the ring this evening?’ Roulet asks.
‘Perhaps this evening, or tomorrow,’ Dodi replies.
Dodi and Diana leave the Ritz. They are going to Dodi’s apartment, then to Chez Benoit restaurant, booked for 9pm.
6.57pm: Dodi and Diana leave the Ritz. They are going to Dodi’s apartment, then to Chez Benoit restaurant, booked for 9pm
They arrive at Dodi’s apartment. There are now more photographers than ever — their lenses are inches from Diana’s face. Rees-Jones and Wingfield try to block them. Inside, Rees-Jones asks Dodi what the plan is.
‘We’re going for a meal.’
‘You’ll find out when you get there,’ Dodi says bluntly. His evening is not going as smoothly as he planned.
Rees-Jones and Wingfield go back downstairs to speak to the photographers. Wingfield, in French, tells them to not to hassle the couple and not to take pictures ‘while they’re in transit’. He shakes hands with some of them to calm things down.
8.25pm/7.25pm (UK time)
In London, Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, and his family are at the Dominion Theatre. He’s taken them to see a production of Beauty And The Beast before Diana arrives home tomorrow.
Ritz assistant Claude Roulet is walking home when he spots Henri Paul drinking alone in a bar. Roulet tells him he’s going to eat before he heads to Chez Benoit to wait for Dodi and Diana.
After enjoying a bottle of champagne, Diana and Dodi emerge from the apartment. The Princess has changed into white jeans, a sleeveless top, black blazer and high-heeled Versace shoes.
She’s wearing a pearl bracelet Dodi gave her. Dodi has a brown suede jacket, jeans and cowboy boots with heels that make him look taller.
As their Mercedes drives off, the paparazzi are so desperate to keep up, they drive their scooters onto the pavement. Pedestrians press themselves against walls to avoid being run over.
Both bodyguards follow in the Range Rover. They still have no clue where they are going.
As they drive down the Champs-Élysées, about 15 paparazzi on scooters and cars surround the Mercedes. Dodi says angrily, ‘It’s too much! It’s mad!’ and tells driver Dourneau to head to the Ritz; they will eat there. Dourneau looks in his rear-view mirror.
Diana has her hand on Dodi’s knee. ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry,’ she reassures him. But the evening is starting to unravel.
Dodi is on the phone to Claude Roulet telling him they’re heading to the Ritz. Roulet immediately calls the hotel to warn security — but it’s too late. The couple have already arrived at the main entrance — and it’s chaos.
Rees-Jones opens the car door for Dodi and the photographers rush forward. Wingfield tries to block the camera lenses with one hand and steer the couple into the building with the other.
CCTV in the Ritz captures a stony-faced Diana striding through the lobby. Dodi covers his face as he walks into the hotel and then turns on Wingfield. ‘How did this fiasco happen?’ he demands.
‘You never told us where you were going!’ Wingfield snaps back.
9.50pm: CCTV in the Ritz captures a stony-faced Diana striding through the lobby. Dodi covers his face as he walks into the hotel and then turns on Wingfield. ‘How did this fiasco happen?’ he demands.
The Ritz night security manager, François Tendil, is so concerned by the paparazzi outside that he calls Henri Paul, whose shift had finished three hours ago.
‘I’m not far, I’ll be there in a minute!’ Paul tells him.
Paul arrives at the front of the hotel in his black Mini. It takes him a few attempts to park. He walks into the lobby smoking a cigar and looking jovial.
He joins bodyguards Wingfield and Rees-Jones, who are eating in the bar.
Paul orders a yellow drink, which Wingfield assumes is pineapple juice. It is, in fact, a Ricard pastis — a liquorice-flavoured alcoholic aperitif.
Paul has had about five other Ricards before he arrived. In addition, he has taken two prescription drugs to treat depression and alcoholism. The labels on the bottles back at his flat warn against driving when taken with alcohol.
Paul walks out of the bar and a barman watches him bump into a customer.
News has spread that Princess Diana is at the Ritz. Scores of tourists have joined the crowd of photographers outside the main entrance, filming on video cameras everyone who arrives or leaves. Each time a blonde walks into the hotel, the tourists cheer.
The bodyguards are sitting outside the Imperial Suite waiting for orders. Henri Paul is wandering around the ground and first floor, occasionally popping out of the front of the hotel to talk to the waiting paparazzi.
Claude Roulet is now at home, worried about how things are going back at the hotel. He phones the Ritz and is surprised when Henri Paul answers. Paul tells him not to worry: ‘I have the situation in hand.’
Wingfield and Rees-Jones can hear laughter coming from Dodi and Diana’s room. Henri Paul arrives and tells the bodyguards there has been a change of plan. Dodi has devised a way to give the paparazzi the slip.
He and Diana will leave for his apartment from the back of the Ritz in a car driven by Paul. As it’s only a five-minute journey, they won’t need a bodyguard.
The two Britons are furious — they think it’s a terrible plan. ‘No f*****g chance is he leaving without a bodyguard,’ Rees-Jones snaps at Paul. They tell him this plan needs to be checked with Mohamed Al Fayed’s London HQ. ‘It’s been okayed by Mr Mohamed,’ Paul reassures them.
The photographers at the front of the Ritz are surprised to see Henri Paul yet again. He looks relaxed, even excited. ‘Diana will be coming out in ten minutes!’ he tells them. The more experienced photographers reckon it’s a trick so they head to the hotel’s back exit on the Rue Cambon.
Sunday, August 31, 12.06am
Dodi and Diana emerge from their room. Dodi reassures Wingfield that his escape plan has been approved by his father.
Wingfield presses his boss for two cars to make the trip — Dodi rejects that idea, but does agree to let Rees-Jones come with him as security.
The couple seem more relaxed now. ‘So it’s straight back, then. Not to a nightclub?’ Wingfield teases Diana.
‘No, straight back!’ she laughs.
Wingfield tries to persuade Rees-Jones that he himself should go with Dodi, but Rees-Jones says: ‘I’m Dodi’s guy, so I’ll go with him. I’ll see you in ten minutes.’
‘I’ll beat you back!’ Wingfield jokes in reply.
12.10am: Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed with bodyguard Trevor Rees Jones and Henri Paul after leaving Dodi’s suite at The Ritz
Diana and Dodi are inside the rear entrance of the Ritz waiting for the car. Dodi has his arm around Diana’s waist. Rees-Jones looks out into the street. He spots a small white car and a scooter.
The plan hasn’t worked. Some of the paparazzi have guessed what’s happening.
12.14am Diana and Dodi are inside the rear entrance of the Ritz waiting for the car. Dodi has his arm around Diana’s waist. Rees-Jones looks out into the street
The car finally arrives. It’s a Mercedes S280 bought second-hand three years ago by the chauffeur company used by the Ritz. Head down, and with a hand covering her face, Diana follows Rees-Jones out and into the car with Dodi behind her.
Henri Paul calls out to the photographers, ‘Don’t try to follow, you will never catch us!’ and gets into the driver’s seat. Paul has enough alcohol in his bloodstream to be more than twice over the legal limit. French photographer Jacques Langevin is directly in front of the Mercedes.
Rees-Jones, in the front, pulls down the sun visor to spoil his shot. Langevin gets a picture of the back of Diana’s head as she looks out of the rear of the car.
The Mercedes pulls away at speed. The journey time is about six minutes. ‘There’s a couple of photographers at the back, but not many,’ Rees-Jones says.
12.19am Rees-Jones, in the front, pulls down the sun visor to spoil his shot. Langevin gets a picture of the back of Diana’s head as she looks out of the rear of the car
The quickest route to Dodi’s apartment is straight along the Champs-Élysées, but not on a busy Saturday night, so Henri Paul heads for a fast expressway along the River Seine.
French photographer Romuald Rat, riding pillion, spots the car at a set of lights, but before he can get a picture, the car pulls away and turns onto the embankment road. Some paparazzi have given up the chase, but about five scooters are still in hot pursuit.
For a few seconds, the Mercedes is plunged into the darkness of the Pont Alexandre III tunnel. When it emerges, Paul can see the road bend to the left and the opening of the next tunnel under Place de l’Alma.
His car is doing about 85mph in a 30mph zone. Motorist Thierry Hackett sees the Mercedes overtake him at high speed, followed by men on motorbikes. To his alarm, the car is swerving. No one in the car is wearing a seat-belt.
The Mercedes enters the Pont de l’Alma Tunnel, still travelling at around 85mph and swerving from side to side. Paul, drunk at the wheel, is losing control.
Suddenly he sees a white Fiat Uno in the right-hand lane and steers to avoid it but hits the Fiat’s left-hand rear light with his right wing.
The Mercedes drives headlong into the tunnel’s 13th pillar. People walking above hear what sounds like a bomb going off.
12. 23: The Mercedes drives headlong into the tunnel’s 13th pillar. People walking above hear what sounds like a bomb going off
The car rebounds and crashes against the wall on the other side, and comes to a stop facing the way it came. The front of the Mercedes is crushed and its horn is blaring. Smoke is coming from what’s left of the engine.
Romuald Rat jumps off his bike and heads back towards the smashed car, taking pictures as he runs. Rat reckons that everyone inside must be dead and for a few seconds hangs back, then opens the rear door.
Inside, Diana is still alive, slumped on the floor with her back to the front seat. A floor mat is lying on top of her. Her pearl bracelet is scattered on the back seat and floor.
Dodi and Henri Paul are dead. Rees-Jones in the front seat is alive, but desperately injured.
Driving on the opposite side of the tunnel, Dr Frederic Mailliez is returning from a birthday party. Through the engine smoke he spots the crash and pulls over. Mailliez runs to the Mercedes, sees the dead and injured and starts to treat the blonde woman in the back of the car. He has no idea who she is. Cameras are still flashing around him.
The woman is finding it hard to breathe, so Mailliez runs back to his car to call for two ambulances and then gets a first aid kit out of the boot. When Mailliez returns to the Mercedes, he lifts Diana’s head to put an oxygen mask on her, but she cries out, saying how much she hurts. The doctor realises she’s British.
The woman’s pulse is weak but, other than a cut on her forehead, he can see no injuries.
Some tourists at the entrance to the tunnel are shouting at two policemen who have just arrived.
‘There’s been a crash, get down there, it’s in the tunnel, hurry up!’ Officer Sebastien Dorzee tells his partner to radio for help then runs down towards the crumpled Mercedes. Mailliez steps back and Dorzee looks in, recognising Diana instantly.
Diana sees Dodi’s body and says: ‘My God.’
Ten firefighters arrive. Two reach into the car and carefully lift Dodi out, place him on the road and start cardiac massage. Others try to extricate Rees-Jones, but the car is so compressed it’s impossible.
Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, arrives at the Paris Palais de Justice Friday December 19, 1997 for questioning by an investigating judge. He was the sole survivor of the crash
They manage to move his head to allow him to breathe easier and to get a cervical collar on him. One fireman covers Diana with an aluminium blanket. He checks her breathing and it’s normal.
‘My God, what’s happened?’ Diana mutters. Wingfield, passing over the Pont de l’Alma Tunnel on his way to Dodi’s apartment, sees flashing lights in the tunnel. He calls the apartment to ask if the couple have arrived. He’s told they’re not there yet.
‘They’ve probably taken a detour to avoid the accident,’ Wingfield says.
More policemen arrive and some paparazzi decide to flee.
Two doctors from the Paris Ambulance Unit (SAMU) arrive and take charge. Dr Jean-Marc Martino can see that Diana’s right arm is dislocated. He gives the Princess an intravenous drip. Now the medics have arrived, Mailliez leaves. Only when he turns on the TV the following morning will he realise the identity of the woman he’d treated.
A BMW motorbike roars into the tunnel. Riding pillion behind her husband and clad in black leather is Maud Coujard, the deputy public prosecutor, who’s been summoned by the police.
She immediately orders officers to grab the remaining photographers and their cameras, so they can be taken for questioning.
The first news of the accident is flashed around the world by the Press Association: ‘Diana, Princess of Wales, was badly injured in a car crash in which another person is reported to have died in Paris shortly after midnight, according to French news agency reports.’
The two doctors from SAMU are carefully lifting Diana from between the seats, out of the car and onto a trolley. Her heart suddenly stops beating. The doctors start urgent Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
After half an hour of cardiac massage on Dodi, the firefighters admit defeat. His body is covered in a blue plastic sheet. TV crews have now arrived. They capture the scene as six photographers and one of their drivers are taken away in a police van.
1.10am/12.10am (UK time)
At Mohamed Al Fayed’s Surrey home, the phone is ringing. It is his chief of security, Paul Handley-Greaves. He tells his boss Dodi is dead and Diana may be dying.
At Kensington Palace, Diana’s butler Paul Burrell is frantically ringing her mobile. It diverts to an answering service. He’d been woken by a call from an American friend who’d seen reports of the crash on CNN.
Colin Tebbutt, Diana’s chauffeur, had gone to bed early as he is due to collect her from Battersea heliport later this morning. His phone rings. It’s a colleague from Kensington Palace, who says: ‘Just sit on the edge of the bed and be prepared.’
1.18am/12.18am (UK time)
After 18 minutes of CPR, Diana’s heart is beating more regularly so she’s put inside an ambulance and onto a respirator. Now able to examine Diana more carefully, Dr Martino spots a chest wound on her right side. He’s concerned she may be bleeding internally.
BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond stands barefoot in her nightdress in her kitchen ringing a taxi firm. Her newsroom has told her of the accident and that she must get to London.
Jennie is 250 miles away in Devon and the taxi firm is not pleased. ‘You want to go all the way to London at this hour? No, we couldn’t possibly do that…’
Jennie rifles through the Yellow Pages for another taxi company.
1.30am/12.30am (UK time)
Now the bodies have been removed from the car, the police recover Diana’s personal effects — the pearl bracelet, a gold watch and gold ring, both with white stones, and her Versace shoes. A gold earring lies undiscovered under the dashboard.
The first pictures of the crash are running on the TV news. BBC Five Live is interviewing an eye-witness. He claims he can see Princess Diana safe and well and walking away from the car.
1.30am: The first pictures of the crash are running on the TV news. BBC Five Live is interviewing an eye-witness. He claims he can see Princess Diana safe and well and walking away from the car
The ambulance carrying Diana moves off in the direction of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital four miles away. It’s not the closest, but it is the best equipped.
The ambulance is moving very slowly — the doctors are concerned that any jolt may trigger a cardiac arrest. All the roads have been cleared and the Pitié-Salpêtrière has been alerted.
At Diana’s office in Kensington Palace, her staff are making calls to book flights to Paris for Paul Burrell and driver Colin Tebbutt.
1.45am/12.45am (UK time)
The British Ambassador in Paris, Sir Michael Jay, is on the phone to the embassy’s duty officer, who is telling him that Princess Diana has been injured in a car accident. Jay immediately calls the Queen’s deputy private secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin, who is with the Royal Family at Balmoral.
2am/1am (UK time)
The ambulance carrying Diana is forced to stop within yards of the hospital. The Princess’s blood pressure has dropped dramatically. The doctors give her dopamine to stabilise her. The ambulance moves off again, slowly. A journey that normally lasts ten minutes has taken 20.
The newly-elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife Cherie are fast asleep in their constituency home in Sedgefield, County Durham.
He wakes up with a start. A policeman is standing by his bed. The officer apologises for coming into his bedroom, but he hadn’t heard the doorbell.
He tells Blair that Princess Diana has been injured in a car crash and that he needs to call Sir Michael Jay in Paris.
The Queen’s deputy private secretary, Sir Robin Janvrin, is breaking the news over the phone to Prince Charles from his quarters at Balmoral. ‘Sir, there’s been a serious accident in Paris. Dodi is dead and the Princess of Wales has been injured.’
Stunned, Charles replies: ‘Is Diana OK?’
Janvrin says: ‘We believe so, Sir. We really do not know.’
As the ambulance doors are opened, two hospital stretcher-bearers take the trolley, helped by the Minister of the Interior, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, and his assistant, Sami Nair.
Nair looks down at Diana. She has an oxygen mask over her mouth and her eyes are swollen. Both men are struck by how young and lovely she looks. ‘She’s beautiful, isn’t she? She’s beautiful,’ Chevènement says.
Inside the A&E department, X-rays have revealed bleeding inside the Princess’s chest cavity, compressing her heart and right lung. The blood is drained and she’s given a transfusion. Then Diana’s heart stops once more.
2.15am/1.15am (UK time)
Prince Charles is on the phone to his spokesman, Mark Bolland, in London. He wants to know the latest news on Diana’s condition. ‘I always thought that Diana would come back to me, needing to be cared for,’ the Prince says.
Mohamed Al Fayed is being driven to Gatwick airport where his private helicopter will take him to Paris to collect Dodi’s body. Islamic law dictates he must be buried as soon as possible.
Surgeons have opened Diana’s chest and discovered that the force of the crash has displaced her heart from left to right, causing a tear in the upper left pulmonary vein. They stitch the tear to stop internal bleeding.
2.47am/1.47am (UK time)
BBC1 is showing the French gangster film Borsalino. A poignant funeral scene is interrupted by a news flash.
Martyn Lewis, who was in bed at home in Kensington just half an hour before, announces to the viewers that Diana has been injured in a car crash in a tunnel in Paris.
A passenger in the car has been killed and that passenger may be Dodi Al Fayed.
Lewis stresses that these reports are unconfirmed.
2.50am/1.50am (UK time)
The phone rings in Gill Rees-Jones’s Oswestry house. It’s Trevor’s estranged wife, Sue.
‘I’ve just heard it on the radio. There’s been a crash involving Dodi and Diana. I’m sure everything’s all right, but I thought you ought to know…’
Gill and Ernie, Trevor’s stepfather, turn on the TV. The reporters say Dodi and the driver have been killed — but there is no news of Diana or ‘an unnamed bodyguard’.
Then, to their horror, there’s a report that the bodyguard has died. Ernie calls Al Fayed’s HQ. ‘Is it true?’ he asks. ‘No, don’t believe it. Trevor’s still alive,’ says the man on the operations desk.
3am/2am (UK time)
One hundred miles to the north, in a bungalow on the Scottish isle of Seil, Diana’s mother Frances Shand Kydd is woken by the phone ringing. She hopes that it’s the person who usually calls in the small hours — Diana.
They haven’t spoken since Frances gave an interview to Hello! magazine in May, when she talked about her daughter’s bulimia and divorce and that it was ‘absolutely wonderful’ Diana had been stripped of her HRH title. Frances’s letters of apology have been returned unopened.
It’s not Diana on the phone but a friend, who says: ‘I had to wake you because there’s a newsflash on Sky News. Diana’s been hurt in a crash in Paris.’
Frances turns on the TV. She watches library footage of her daughter played on the screen. Frances’s hands are shaking.
3.15am/2.15am (UK time)
The surgeons at Pitié-Salpêtrière are fighting to keep Diana alive by using adrenaline, heart massages by hand and defibrillations. Nothing is working.
In a nearby operating theatre, doctors are giving Rees-Jones a tracheotomy. Out in the corridors are armed men from the British and French Secret Services.
Frances Shand Kydd is packing in case she has to visit Diana in hospital. She’d tried to call her other daughters, Sarah and Jane, but their lines are engaged.
Frances did get through to her son, Charles, in South Africa, who’d just been told the news by his estate manager at Althorp.
The wrecked Mercedes is being taken away on a truck. Police are collecting fragments of red glass and sealing them in bags. They will later be found to have come from the white Fiat’s brake light.
3.50am The wrecked Mercedes before it is taken away on a truck. Police are collecting fragments of red glass and sealing them in bags. They will later be found to have come from the white Fiat’s brake light
In the hospital operating theatre, Diana, Princess of Wales is pronounced dead. Father Yves-Marie Clochard-Bossuet, a Roman Catholic priest, performs the last rites using his thumb to anoint her forehead and her palms with holy oil.
He sits with Diana, praying for her soul and for her two sons. He will stay there for four hours so the Princess won’t be alone.
The medical team tells Minister of the Interior Jean-Pierre Chevènement that Diana has died. The British ambassador, Sir Michael Jay, weeps at the news.
4.15am/3.15am (UK time)
Sir Michael calls Balmoral to tell the Royal Family.
Additional reporting: Nigel Bunyan
Jonathan Mayo is the author of TITANIC: MINUTE BY MINUTE and D-DAY: MINUTE BY MINUTE, (Short Books, both £8.99). To order copies for £7.19 (valid to August 26, 2017), visit mailbookshop. co.uk or call 0844 571 0640. P&P is free on orders over £15.
Diana opening a new hospital casualty centre for children at Northwick Park Hospital July 1997