We already know Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris, but what happened in her last 24 hours? Buzz60
Princess Diana and her beau Dodi Fayed died two decades ago this month, following a a crash in Paris’ Pont de l’Alma tunnel.
Though their relationship started just that summer, Fayed, a producer of films like Hookand Chariots of Fire, had decided to propose to Diana that night, according to accounts. Here’s what we’ve pieced together of Diana’s last 24 hours.
Aug. 30, 1997 (all times local)
Around 4:30 p.m.: Diana and Fayed arrive at the Ritz Paris, owned by his father, Egyptian businessman Mohamed Fayed, through the back door and occupy the Imperial Suite.
Between 5:40 and 6:30 p.m.: Reportedly, Fayed ventures to Repossi jewelers and two rings are later delivered to the Imperial Suite. However, a 2013 Vanity Fair article says Diana told a friend the ring she expected to receive would be “going firmly on my right hand.”
Around 7 p.m.: Diana and Fayed exit the Ritz through the rear entrance and are driven to his residence, near the Arc de Triomphe.
At 9:50 p.m.: Utilizing the hotel’s front entrance, the couple enters and heads for its L’Espadon restaurant, after forgoing reservations at Benoit Paris because of rampant paparazzi, according to Christopher Andersen’s book, The Day Diana Died. Diana reportedly orders Dover sole, vegetable tempura and a mushroom and asparagus omelet. Andersen explains Fayed quickly grows suspicious that photographers might be posing as restaurant patrons and requests their food be delivered to their room.
Aug. 31, 1997
12:20 a.m.: With bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, Fayed and Diana reportedly attempt to evade photographers by leaving the hotel through its rear entrance to return to his apartment. They enter the backseat of a black Mercedes S280 to be driven by Ritz security employee Henri Paul.
According to Andersen’s account, Paul had at least two drinks (a Scotch and a beer) that evening. His blood alcohol level was determined to be more than three times France’s legal limit. A September 1997 analysis of Paul’s blood, hair and spinal cord later detected the antidepressant Prozac as well Tiapridal, sometimes used to combat alcohol withdrawal.
The BBC reported in 2007, prior to their departure, Paul taunted the paparazzi, reminding one witness to his antics, Stephane Darmon, of his own alcoholic father.
At approximately 12:23 a.m.: The speeding car, in a misguided attempt to outrun photogs, collides with a concrete pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Seconds earlier, Paul’s co-worker Trevor Rees-Jones had buckled his seat belt, which Andersen said went against typical procedure for bodyguards. He is the only one who lives to see the sun rise.
Fayed and Paul die on the scene. Following the accident, Dr. Frédéric Maillez happens to be driving by and tends to Diana with limited supplies before the ambulance’s arrival. Workers use an electric chainsaw to extract Diana from the car.
Approximately 1:20 a.m.: After attempting to stabilize Diana onsite, the ambulance transports her to the hospital, Andersen says in his book. French ambulances subscribe to a “stay and play” method, unlike the American “scoop and run” technique. Along the way, she suffers cardiac arrest and the ambulance stops while AED and CPR are administered.
1:45 a.m.: Britain’s ambassador to France, Michael Jay, is notified of the accident. He alerts the queen’s private secretary, Robin Janvrin, who is with the royal family at Balmoral.
Approximately 2:01 a.m.: Diana arrives at Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital, undergoing surgery minutes later, according to Andersen.
4:00 a.m.: The princess, who celebrated her 36th birthday the previous month, is pronounced dead.
“Diana’s body arrived in a condition of serious hemorrhage and shock,” hospital anesthesiologist Dr. Bruno Riou tells the media an hour later.. “An urgent surgery showed a severe wound to the left pulmonary vein. Despite the closure of this wound and the two-hour external and internal cardiac massage, no official respiratory circulation could be established…”
6:00 p.m.: Accompanied by Prince Charles and her sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana’s body leaves the hospital bound for England, writes Andersen. About an hour later, their plane touches down at RAF Northolt, where a ceremonial guard carries her coffin, draped in the royal standard, to a waiting hearse.