The Last Days of Princess Diana
How would it be to live your days without knowing that the end is coming soon? We can get a glimpse of this tragic experience in the life of the well-known and beloved Princess Diana. As most of you might remember, the Queen of Hearts lost her life in a sudden yet fateful car crash.
So now we all wonder: what were the months, weeks, and hours before that moment like? Did she perceive that her days were coming to an end? Or did she live as there was a tomorrow? To understand better what she went through, we've decided to recount those final days in the life of Princess Diana of Wales. Let's get started!
June: trying to find a normal life
The beginning of the summer of 1997 marked a year since the Princess' divorce from Charles, and she was still trying to determine her new path in life. With her fairly new independence, she decided to give up her security protection by Scotland Yard officers, according to CTV News.
As CTV’s royal commentator Richard Berthelsen revealed, she "asked to no longer have police protection. That was a decision she made herself. Clearly, that turned out to be the wrong decision." Perhaps, if only she had had her security guards with her, her destiny might have been different.
On the other hand, Diana resigned from most of her royal patronages and resolved to focus on the charities that were more important for her. CheatSheet explained that on June 3, the Queen of Hearts was seen at a performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet.
It was a charity she was involved with that held a show at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The mother-of-two was spotted by the cameras smiling and waving to the public when she arrived at the venue. Later that month, she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, again, with her usual smile. Little did she know what was about to unfold in her life.
July: a broken romance and the beginning of another
This month started off good with Diana's last birthday on the first. According to the author of 'The Diana Chronicles,' Tina Brown, she spent a lovely day surrounded by 90 bouquets she received to celebrate her 36 years. She also got a morning phone call from Harry who sang "happy birthday" along with his classmates.
In the evening, she attended the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Tate Gallery in the English capital where she was the guest of honor. At the event, Diana received more flowers, cards, and balloons, according to CheatSheet. However, that beautiful day would quickly be tarnished by the sadness of her love life.
Early July was also marked by heartache as Lady Di decided to call it quits with British-Pakistani cardiologist Hasnat Khan after an 18-month relationship. He was dubbed her first true love, and according to CTV News, she was hoping to make a life with him.
However, the doctor was not prepared for the media attention and the negative impact it might have on his medical work. With a broken heart, Di resolved to move on with her love life and accepted the invitation from Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-fayed to vacation in his 30-bedroom mansion in St. Tropez in the South of France along with his family.
Apparently, the tycoon intended to bring Diana together with his playboy son, Dodi Al-Fayed, in hopes they would marry someday. Diana set out with William and Harry for Southern France on July 11, and the plan seemed to work as Dodi started whooing Diana during the holidays.
However, according to Rosa Monckton, Diana's friend, it was merely a fling and "it was clear to me that she was really missing Hasnat and I think Dodi was a distraction from the hurt that she felt from the break-up of that relationship."
Some days later in the month, Diana returned to St. Tropez without the kids, and paparazzi spotted her kissing Dodi aboard his yacht. This is how the famous photos of her new romance were published in media outlets around the world.
Whether a fling or not, Dodi and Diana's romance escalated quickly and involved a cruise around the Mediterranean for six days, a nine-day trip to Sardinia, and a weekend in Paris the following month. It seemed that Diana was enjoying the playboy's company and was trying to get to know him better.
Early and mid-August: some controversy
The princess' love life was the main topic for the stories the press ran about her, but she also continued her incessant fight against landmines. That's why on August 10, she traveled to the capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, to meet with victims and draw attention to the global problem, as BBC reported.
Diana also met with local disability groups and rehabilitation specialists. However, amid her efforts, some controversy arose on August 27 when her name appeared in the headlines of the Frech newspaper Le Monde with some alleged declarations about John Major's Tory government.
As the newspaper reported, the royal allegedly said that his government had been hopeless when it came to dealing with the landmines' issue. However, Kensington Palace issued a statement to deny that the Princess had uttered those words.
August 30, 4:00 pm: at Paris
Understandably, Diana got very upset by the press report so decided to wrap up her yachting trip and headed for London with Dodi, with the intention of stopping in Paris for a night. At around 4:00 pm, Philippe Dourneau, Fayed's driver in the capital, picked them up at the airport and took them on a tour of the Villa Windsor.
After the romantic time, the lovebirds went to the Imperial Suite of Hotel Ritz in the downtown, which was owned by Dodi's father. Between 5:40 and 6:30 pm, reports indicated that Repossi jewelers provided some jewelry. The Washington Post explained that it was a six-figure diamond ring that Dodi was expecting to put on Diana's hand that night.
People close to the playboy said that he wanted to propose despite having been dating for less than a month. There were even rumors that said Diana was already pregnant, but this was never confirmed. A friend of the princess told the Daily Mail that on that Saturday evening, Di "was as happy as I have ever known her. For the first time in years, all was well with her world."
August 30, 5:30 p.m: saying farewell
The couple was planning to have dinner later that evening, but before leaving, Lady Di called her sons William, age 15 at that time, and Harry, then 12, according to ABC News. The kids were at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with Prince Charles, but little did Diana know that turned out to be the last time she heard her voices.
Presumably, the boys were entertained with their cousins, Peter and Zara Phillips, and didn't want to talk much with their mother, so the call was only for five minutes. But now with hindsight, they have regrets. William said in the documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy:'
"Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know, 'See you later.' If I'd known what would happen, I wouldn't have been so blasé about it. But that phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily."
Harry, on his side, claimed in the same documentary, "for the rest of my life, how short the phone call was. And if I'd known that was the last time I'd speak to my mother, the things I would have said to her... Looking back on it now, it is incredibly hard."
After the call, Di and her beau left the Ritz through the rear exit swarming with paparazzi and headed to nearby Chez Benoit bistro at 9:45 pm to dine there. But the dinner at the bistro was a bust because paparazzi surrounded the place. Dodi and Di resolved to go back to the hotel and have their food delivered there, but Dodi wanted to go to his apartment as the ring for the proposal was there.
August 31, 12:20 am: the last hours
Therefore, the couple made the fateful decision of driving to Fayed's apartment, escaping from paparazzi who were still swarming at the hotel through an improvised plan of leaving through the back door and getting into a borrowed car. According to CheatSheet, the pair got into a Mercedes S-280 limousine driven by Henri Paul.
According to USA Today, Paul, the driver, had a few drinks that evening, and a later blood analysis determined his alcohol was three times the legal limit in France. The squad sped off with photographers catching up on their motorcycles once they were tipped off about the escape.
Driving at an approximate speed of 105 km/h, Henri Paul drove the limousine through the Pont de l'Alma tunnel near the Seine River, where he lost control of the car and crashed into a pillar at 12:25 am local time. Paul and Fayed died instantly, while Trevor Rees-Jones, the couple's bodyguard who was at the front suffered severe injuries but survived.
August 31, 12:20 am: her last words
According to Xavier Gourmelon, a firefighter who attended the scene, the Princess was conscious and had her eyes open after the traffic accident. The firefighter was at the Malar fire station where he was the duty officer that night, and it only took him and his team three minutes to reach the scene. He added:
"The car was in a mess, and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive. Diana said to me, 'My God, what's happened?'"
He explained that he pulled her from the wrecked Mercedes using an electric chainsaw when Lady Di suffered a cardiac arrest as she was being placed on a stretcher. Following an attempt to resuscitate her, her heart began beating again, so Xavier was sure she would be alright.
August 31, approximately 1:20 am: trying to keep her alive
After trying to stabilize Diana onsite, an ambulance transported her to the hospital. According to ABC News, she was unconscious but alive when she reached Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital. However, she had severe internal injuries to her heart, and surgeons tried to repair a ruptured blood vessel that was causing massive internal bleeding.
August 31, 4:00 am: her death
As USA Today reported, Diana had a severe hemorrhage and shock, and despite closing the wound in an urgent surgery, her respiratory circulation couldn't be reestablished. Princess Diana was pronounced dead at 4:00 am local time. That's how the Queen of Hearts emitted her last breath.
What a tragedy indeed was the death of the Princess of Wales. Her last days were surrounded by joy but also distress and heartbreak. She lived her life normally because no one, apparently not even Diana, would have imagined how fateful that night in Paris would be. If you enjoyed this article, shared it with friends and relatives who love Lady Di.