The Princess Diana Story

On August 30, 1997, Britain awoke to news that would change the countenance of the world: Diana, Princess of Wales, was officially pronounced dead. Within minutes, the nation was grieving; within hours, the world was morning. Throughout the day, people around the globe stopped in motion, with wide, teary eyes and open jaws, as they passed by their television sets to listen to continuous news reports of this tragic event. So what exactly happened, and how is the paparazzi involved?


Pursued by hungry-driven paparazzi on all side, Diana's Mercedes Benz sedan crashed shortly after midnight Paris time (3 p.m. Pacific time) in a tunnel along the Seine River at the Pont de l'Alma bridge. KFWB News Radio in Paris reported that the car had reached speeds of around 80 and 120 mph while trying to evade paparazzi photographers on motorcycles. Travelling in a 35 mph zone, the car slammed into a concrete post, and spun and hit a tunnel wall before crumpling in a mass of twisted steel. The damage was extensive: the front of the car was destroyed and the roof cave into seat level.

Diana's millionaire boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, 42, and the chauffeur, Henri Paul, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene. The fourth occupant, Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the crash, but was initially hospitalized in critical condition. He suffered a head contusion, a lung injury and facial injuries.

According to television reports, it took rescue crews an hour and a half to pry Diana, 36, from the mangled car and transport her to a nearby hospital. There, doctors spent two hours trying to save her life. She was pronounced dead at 7 p.m. Pacific Time--approximately four hours after the crash.

Although the official cause of death was reported as cardiac arrest, it was said that Diana had major chest wounds, including a severe injury to her left lung. She also had a serious thigh wound. But ultimately, it was her heart that led to her fatality: doctors said they were unable to revive her once the heart had failed.

News reports stated that Diana and Fayed had recently dined at the Hotel Ritz one hour before the accident. They left Hotel Ritz en route to a townhouse, but not without making attempts to deter the paparazzi. A spokeswoman for the Hotel Ritz told the Associated Press that Paul, a former French Air Force pilot, was the hotel's No.2 security man, but he was not Fayed's regular driver. Fayed's driver had left earlier in another vehicle as a decoy to throw photographers off the trail. But obviously, the plan did not work. Witnesses said photographers had surrounded the Mercedes sedan before it even entered the 300-yeard, brick-lined tunnel,just north of the Eiffel Tower.


Before medical emergency units had arrived on the scene, witnesses had already sentenced the paparazzi to death, and shortly, so did the world. It was evident they would take the rap for this one. The paparazzi were the first ones blammed for Diana's death. Immediately after the crash, or should I say within seconds, the paparazzi was physically and verbally attacked, not just for taking pictures, but for not offering their assistance to aid the victims. Ultimately, they took all they blame, even after surprising evidence suggested they might not be at fault.

French police said they had detained for questioning six French and one Macedonian photographer who were following Diana's car early Sunday when it crashed. Although it was never stated what they would be charged with, they were investigated for violating France's "Good Samaritan Law." The law makes it a crime when one fails to help someone in danger. The paparazzi were also convicted by local citizens for not adhering to this moral law. A passerby told CNN that horrified witnesses had beaten one photographer at the scene before he was taken into police custody. Others just yelled and scowled at them for continuing to take pictures.

After confiscating two motorcycles, a scooter and 20 rolls of film from the photographers, authroities haltd their investigation of Diana's death after receiving shocking news report: the driver was drunk. The Paris prosecutor's office had released a statement citing the chaffeur's blood test analysis was above the legal level. Although they did not give detailed numbers, an anonymous source told AP that Henri Paul's alcohol level was 1.75 grams per liter of blood--three times the legal limit in France. That is equivalent to 0.22 percent in the United States, well above the legal limits, which vary from 0.08 to 0.1 in any different state.

But no matter how intoxicated the driver, the paparazzi were the ones solely prosecuted by many of nations. It is evident that Diana's death increased greatly the disgust and anger directed towards the paparazzi. Even ex-anchorman Walter Cronkite conceded on Dateline NBC that "the paparazzi are getting a bum rap on this one." And that they did. Many argued that their intrusive and animalistic tactics contributed to the event and caused the driver to speed. Others have said that pursuers went too far in tryig to take a picture. And finally, there are those who attest that Diana would still be with us today, had the paparazzi not been chasing her. But no matter how you said it, the verdict was clear: GULITY.


Remembering the People's Princess

Princess of Wales

Remembering Princess Diana: One Year Later

Condolences for Diana

Loss of a Princess

Diana's Funeral



SOURCE: All pictures and reports included on this page were supplied by Channel2000's extensive coverage of Princess Diana Death.