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On This Day… The People’s Princess

Written by: George Chittenden : 28 May 2019

It was on this day, 31st August, back in 1997 when Princess Diana died following a horrific car crash in Paris. The accident occurred at 12:23 a.m. after Diana had left the Ritz Hotel with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, 41, son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, the former owner of Harrods department store. The couple were being driven in a Mercedes S-280, by driver Henri Paul who was drunk and on anti-depressants at the time of the accident.

The vehicle reached the entrance to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel where the crash occurred. Henri Paul was supposedly trying to shake off paparazzi photographers when he lost control of the vehicle. The Mercedes hit righthand wall and then swerved to the left of the two-lane carriageway before it collided head-on with the 13th pillar that supported the roof. The vehicle was travelling at approximately 65 mph when it hit the pillar and it forced the car to spin and hit the stone wall of the tunnel backwards.

Unfortunately, the only person to survive the crash was Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. As you can imagine Diana’s death sent not just Britain into mourning, but most of the world. Her funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 6th attracted an estimated 3 million mourners and onlookers in London, and worldwide television coverage watched by 2.5 billion people. It was aired to 200 countries in 44 languages.

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