"Death of Diana" redirects here. For information on the murder of Diana Miller, see .
On 31 August 1997, died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash in the road tunnel in , France. Her companion, , and the driver of the , , were pronounced dead at the scene. A fourth passenger in the car, bodyguard , was seriously injured but survived.
Although the media blamed the behaviour of the who followed the car, a French judicial investigation in 1999 found that the crash was caused by Henri Paul, who lost control of the Mercedes at high speed while he was intoxicated and under the effects of prescription drugs. Paul was the deputy head of security at the at the time of the crash and had goaded the paparazzi waiting outside the hotel earlier. His inebriation may have been made worse by and traces of an in his body. The investigation concluded that the photographers were not near the Mercedes when it crashed. After hearing evidence at the British inquest in 2008, a jury returned to a verdict of "" by Paul and the paparazzi pursuing the car.
Diana's death caused a substantial outpouring of worldwide grief, including numerous floral tributes and was watched by an estimated 2 billion people. The were criticised in the press for their reaction to Diana's death.
On Saturday, 30 August 1997, Diana left on a private jet and arrived in with , the son of . They had stopped there en route to London, having spent the preceding nine days together on board Mohamed Al-Fayed's yacht Jonikal on the and . They had intended to stay there for the night. Mohamed Al-Fayed was and is the owner of the . He also owned an apartment in Rue Arsène Houssaye, a short distance from the hotel, just off the .
, the deputy head of security at the , had been instructed to drive the hired black 1994 in order to elude the ; a vehicle left the Ritz first from the main entrance on Place Vendôme, attracting a throng of photographers. Diana and Fayed then departed from the hotel's rear entrance, Rue Cambon at around 00:20 on 31 August (22:20 on 30 August ), heading for the apartment in Rue Arsène Houssaye. They did this to avoid the nearly 30 photographers waiting in the front of the hotel. They were the rear passengers; , a member of the Fayed family's personal protection team, was in the (right) front passenger seat. It was believed that Diana and Dodi were not wearing . After leaving the Rue Cambon and crossing the , they drove along Cours la Reine and Cours Albert 1er – the embankment road along the right bank of the – into the Place de l'Alma underpass.
At 12:23 a.m., Paul lost control of the vehicle at the entrance to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel. The car struck the 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 car was travelling at an estimated speed of 105 km/h (65 mph). It then spun and hit the stone wall of the tunnel backwards, finally coming to a stop. The impact caused substantial damage, particularly to the front half of the vehicle, as there was no between the pillars to prevent this. Witnesses arriving shortly after the accident reported smoke. Witnesses also reported that photographers on motorcycles "swarmed the Mercedes sedan before it entered the tunnel."
As the victims lay in the wrecked car, the photographers, who had been driving slower and were accordingly some distance behind the Mercedes, reached the scene. The photographers were on . Some rushed to help, tried to open the doors and help the victims, while some of them took pictures. were deployed. Police arrived on scene around 10 minutes after the crash at 00:30 and an was on site five minutes after the police, according to witnesses. reported that one photographer was beaten by witnesses who were horrified by the scene. Five of the photographers were taken into custody. Later, two others were detained and around 20 rolls of film were taken from the photographers. Police also impounded their vehicles. Firemen also arrived to help remove the victims.
Still conscious, Rees-Jones had suffered multiple serious facial injuries and a head . The front occupants' had functioned normally. The occupants were not wearing .Diana, who had been sitting in the right rear passenger seat, was still conscious. Critically injured, Diana was reported to murmur repeatedly, "Oh my God," and after the photographers and other helpers were pushed away by police, "Leave me alone." In June 2007 the documentary Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel claimed that the first person to touch Diana was Dr. Maillez, who chanced upon the scene. He reported that Diana had no visible injuries but was in .Diana was removed from the car at 1:00 am. She then went into and following external , her heart started beating again. She was moved to the at 1:18 am, left the scene at 1:41 am and arrived at the at 2:06 am.
Fayed had been sitting in the left rear passenger seat and was shortly afterwards pronounced dead. Paul was declared dead on removal from the wreckage. Both were taken to the (IML), the Paris , not to a hospital. Paul was later found to have a of 0.175 grams per 100 mL of blood - about 3.5 times .
Despite attempts to save her, Diana's internal injuries were too extensive: her heart had been displaced to the right side of the chest, which tore the and the . Despite lengthy attempts, including internal cardiac massage, she died at 4:00 a.m. Bruno Riou announced her death at 6 am at a news conference held at the hospital.
Later that morning, (French ) visited the hospital with French Prime Minister . At around 5:00 pm, Diana's former husband, , and her two older sisters, and , arrived in Paris. The group visited the hospital along with French President and thanked the doctors for trying to save her life. Prince Charles accompanied Diana's body home on Sunday. Her body was taken to the Hammersmith and Fulham mortuary in London for its autopsy later that day.
Initial media reports stated Diana's car had collided with the pillar at 190 km/h (120 mph), and that the speedometer's needle had jammed at that position. It was later announced the car's speed on collision was about 95–110 km/h (60–70 mph). The car was certainly travelling much faster than the of 50 km/h (31 mph). In 1999, a French investigation concluded the Mercedes had come into contact with another vehicle (a white ) in the tunnel. The driver of that vehicle has never been traced, and the specific vehicle has not been identified.
It was remarked by , the , that if the accident had been caused in part by being hounded by paparazzi, that it would be "doubly tragic."Diana's brother also blamed tabloid media for her death. An 18-month French judicial investigation concluded in 1999 that the crash was caused by Paul, who lost control at high speed while .
Members of the public were invited to sign a book of condolence at . All 11,000 light bulbs at were turned off and not switched on again until after the funeral. Throughout the night, members of the and the provided support for people queuing along the Mall. More than one million bouquets were left at her London home, , while at her family's estate of the public was asked to stop bringing flowers as the volume of people and flowers in the surrounding roads was said to be causing a threat to public safety.
By 10 September, the pile of flowers outside was 5 feet (1.5 m) deep in places and the bottom layer had started to . The people were quiet, queuing patiently to sign the book and leave their gifts. There were a few minor incidents. Fabio Piras, a Sardinian tourist, was given a one-week prison sentence on 10 September for having taken a teddy bear from the pile. When the sentence was later reduced to a £100 fine, Piras was punched in the face by a member of the public when he left the court. The next day two Slovakian tourists, Maria Rigolova, a 54-year-old secondary school teacher and Agnese Sihelksa, a 50-year-old communications technician, were each given a 28-day prison sentence for having taken 11 teddy bears and a number of flowers from the pile outside the palace. This was reduced to a fine of £200 each.
Early on, it was uncertain if it would be a since Diana had lost her royal status because of her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.
Diana's death was met with extraordinary public expressions of grief, and her funeral at on 6 September drew 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. Outside the Abbey and in crowds watched and listened to proceedings on large outdoor screens and speakers as guests filed in, including representatives of the many charities of which Diana was patron. Attendants included , , wife of the French President, and other celebrities, including Italian tenor and friends of Diana, and . John performed a of his song "" that was dedicated to her. Protocol was disregarded when the guests applauded the speech by Diana's younger brother , who strongly criticised the press and indirectly criticised the Royal Family for their treatment of her. The funeral is estimated to have been watched by 31.5 million viewers in Britain. Precise calculation of the worldwide audience is not possible, but estimated at around 2.5 billion.
After the end of the ceremony, the coffin was driven to in a hearse. Mourners cast flowers at the funeral procession for almost the entire length of its journey and vehicles even stopped on the opposite carriageway of the as the cars passed.
In a private ceremony, Diana was buried on an island in the middle of a lake called The Oval, which is part of the Pleasure Garden at . In her coffin, she wore a black dress and is clutching a in her hands. The rosary had been a gift from of Calcutta, a confidante of Diana, who had died the day before her funeral. A visitors' centre is open during summer months, with an exhibition about her and a walk around the lake. All profits are donated to the .
Some criticised the reaction to Diana's death at the time as being "hysterical" and "irrational". As early as 1998 philosopher identified the mourning as a defining point in the "sentimentalisation of Britain", a media-fuelled phenomenon where image and reality become blurred. bandleader responded to the reaction with "The woman's dead. Shut up. Get over it". These criticisms were repeated on the 10th anniversary, when journalist expressed the opinion that "It has become an embarrassing memory, like a mawkish, self-pitying teenage entry in a diary ... we cringe to think about it." In 2010, suggested "sentimentality, both spontaneous and generated by the exaggerated attention of the media, that was necessary to turn the death of the princess into an event of such magnitude thus served a political purpose, one that was inherently dishonest in a way that parallels the dishonesty that lies behind much sentimentality itself". Some cultural analysts disagreed. Sociologist pointed out that many Britons associated Diana not with the Royal Family but with social change and a more liberal society: "I don't think it was hysteria, the loss of a public figure can be a touchstone for other issues." Carol Wallace of said that the fascination with Diana's death had to do with "the fairy tale failing to end happily – twice, first when she got divorced and now that she died."
The Queen expressed her dismay at Diana's death when she found out. Prince Charles was the person who told their sons about their mother's death. The princes were told of her death before dawn, as Prince Charles had to wake them up to share the tragic news. The boys were close to their mother. On Sunday morning after Diana's death, Queen Elizabeth, Princes Charles, William and Harry all wore black to church services at . Prince Charles, William and Harry would be coming back to London on Friday, September 5. The Queen, who returned to London from Balmoral, agreed to a television broadcast to the nation.
The Royal Family was criticised for a rigid adherence to , and their concern to care for Diana's grieving sons, was interpreted as a lack of compassion. In particular, the refusal of to fly the at provoked angry headlines in newspapers. "Where is our Queen? Where is her Flag?" asked The Sun. The Palace's stance was one of royal protocol: no flag could fly over Buckingham Palace, as the Royal Standard is only flown when the Queen is in residence, and the Queen was then in Scotland. The Royal Standard never flies at half-mast as it is the Sovereign's flag and there is never an or vacancy in the monarchy, as the new monarch his or her predecessor. Finally, as a compromise, the was flown at half-mast as the Queen left for Westminster Abbey on the day of the funeral. This set a precedent, and when the Queen is not in residence. A rift between Prince Charles and the Queen's private secretary Sir (Diana's brother-in-law) was reported in the media over what the nature of the Princess's funeral should be with Charles demanding a public funeral and Fellowes supporting the Queen's idea of a private one. The Palace later issued a statement denying such rumours.
Prince Harry said in 2017 that the death of his mother caused and grief. Prince William was 15 and Harry was 12 when Diana died.
British Prime Minister, , said that he "felt utterly devastated by the death of the Princess." President said that he and his wife, were "profoundly saddened" when they found out about her death., the said that her death "has robbed the world of a consistent and committed voice for the improvement of the lives of suffering children worldwide." In Australia, the Deputy Prime Minister, , condemned the paparazzi for their overzealous coverage of Diana. Russian President praised Diana's charity work in a statement saying "All know of Princess Diana's big contribution to charitable work, and not only in Great Britain". Among other politicians who sent messages of condolences were South African President , Australian Prime Minister , Canadian Prime Minister , New Zealand Prime Minister , and Israeli Prime Minister .
In London, thousands of people carried bouquets and stood outside of Buckingham Palace after the news of her death. People started bringing flowers within an hour after the news was shared. The BBC flew its flags at . Both radio and television aired the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen," in response to Diana's death.
People in the United States were shocked at her death. In Paris, thousands of people visited the site of the crash and the hospital where Diana died. People brought flowers and also attempted to visit the Hotel Ritz, as well. In , a survivor, Jasminko Bjelic, who had met Diana only three weeks earlier, said, "She was our friend." Following her death many celebrities including actors and singers blamed the paparazzi and condemned their reckless behavior.
During the four weeks following her funeral, the in England and Wales rose by 17% and cases of by 44.3% compared with the average for that period in the four previous years. Researchers suggest that this was caused by the "" effect, as the greatest increase in suicides was by people most similar to Diana: women aged 25 to 44, whose suicide rate increased by over 45%. Another research showed that 50% of Britons and 27% of Americans were deeply affected by her death as if someone they knew had died. It also concluded that in general women were more affected than men in both of the countries. The same research showed that Diana's "charitable endeavors" and "ability to identify with ordinary people" were among the main factors that caused her to be admired and respected by the people. In the weeks after her death counselling services reported an increase in the number of phone calls by the people who were seeking help due to grief or distress.
The national grieving for Diana had economic effects. In the short term, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimated that retail sales dropped 1% that week. Traffic congestion in central London as crowds went to the palaces to pay homage likewise adversely affected , and the CEBR estimated that would cost businesses £200 million, or a total loss of 0.1% of for the third quarter of 1997. However, in the long run the CEBR expected that to be offset by increased tourism and memorabilia sales.
Further information:The , the unofficial Diana memorial in Paris, France
In the years after her death, interest in the life of Diana has remained high. As a temporary memorial, the public co-opted the Flamme de la Liberté (), a monument near the Alma Tunnel related to the French donation of the to the United States. The messages of condolence have since been removed and its use as a Diana memorial has discontinued, though visitors still leave messages in her memory. A permanent memorial, the , was opened by in in London on 6 July 2004.
Under , an is required in cases of sudden or unexplained death. A French judicial investigation had already been carried out but the 6,000-page report was never published. On 6 January 2004, six years after her death, an into the deaths of Diana and Fayed opened in London held by , the coroner of the Queen's household. The coroner asked the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, , to make inquiries, in response to speculation that the deaths were not an accident. The police investigation reported its findings in in December 2006.
In January 2006, Lord Stevens explained in an interview on that the case is substantially more complex than once thought. wrote on 29 January 2006 that agents of the British secret service were cross-examined because they were in Paris at the time of the crash. It was suggested in many journals that these agents might have exchanged the blood test of the driver with another blood sample (although no evidence for this has been forthcoming).
The inquests into the deaths of Diana and Fayed opened on 8 January 2007, with Dame acting as for the Diana inquest and Assistant Deputy Coroner for Surrey in relation to the Fayed inquest. Butler-Sloss originally intended to sit without a jury; this decision was later overturned by the High Court, as well as the jurisdiction of the Coroner of the Queen's Household. On 24 April 2007, Butler-Sloss stepped down, saying she lacked the experience required to deal with an inquest with a jury. The role of Coroner for the inquests was transferred to , who formally took up the role on 13 June as Coroner for Inner West London.
On 27 July 2007, Baker, following representations for the lawyers of the interested parties, issued a list of issues likely to be raised at the inquest, many of which had been dealt with in great detail by :
The inquests officially began on 2 October 2007 with the swearing of a jury of six women and five men. Scott Baker delivered a lengthy opening statement giving general instructions to the jury and introducing the evidence. The BBC reported that Mohamed Al-Fayed, having earlier reiterated his claim that his son and Diana were murdered by the Royal Family, immediately criticised the opening statement as biased.
The inquest heard evidence from people connected with Diana and the events leading to her death, including , Mohamed Al-Fayed, her stepmother, the survivor of the crash, and the former head of .
Scott Baker began his summing up to the jury on 31 March 2008. He opened by telling the jury "no-one except you and I and, I think, the gentleman in the public gallery with Diana and Fayed painted on his forehead sat through every word of evidence" and concluded that there was "not a shred of evidence" that Diana's death had been ordered by the Duke of Edinburgh or organised by the security services. Lord Justice Scott Baker concluded his summing up on Wednesday, 2 April 2008. After summing up, the jury retired to consider five verdicts, namely unlawful killing by the negligence of either or both the following vehicles or Paul; accidental death or an open verdict. The jury decided on 7 April 2008 that Diana had been unlawfully killed by the following vehicles. Princes William and Harry released a statement in which they said that they "agree with their verdicts and are both hugely grateful." Mohamed Al Fayed also said that he would accept the verdict and "abandon his 10-year campaign to prove that Diana and Dodi were murdered in a conspiracy".
The cost of the inquiry exceeded £12.5 million, with the coroner's inquest at £4.5 million, and a further £8 million spent on the Metropolitan Police investigation. It lasted 6 months and heard 250 witnesses, with the cost heavily criticised in the media.
Nine photographers who had been following Diana and Dodi in 1997, were charged with manslaughter in France. France's "highest court" dropped the charges in 2002.
Three photographers who took pictures of the aftermath of the crash on 31 August 1997 had their photographs confiscated and were tried for invasion of privacy for taking pictures through the open door of the crashed car. The photographers, who were part of the "paparazzi" were acquitted in 2003.
Although the initial French investigation found that Diana had died as a result of an accident, several have been raised. Since February 1998, Fayed's father, (the owner of the , where Paul worked, and thus potentially liable for wrongful death liability) has claimed that the crash was a result of a , and later contended that the crash was orchestrated by on the instructions of the . His claims were dismissed by a French judicial investigation and by , a inquiry that concluded in 2006. An inquest headed by into the deaths of Diana and Fayed began at the , London, on 2 October 2007, a continuation of the inquest that began in 2004. On 7 April 2008, the jury concluded that Diana and Fayed were the victims of an "unlawful killing" by the "" chauffeur Paul and the drivers of the following vehicles. Additional factors were "the impairment of the judgment of the driver of the Mercedes through alcohol" and "the death of the deceased was caused or contributed to by the fact that the deceased was not wearing a seat belt, the fact that the Mercedes struck the pillar in the Alma Tunnel rather than colliding with something else".
On 17 August 2013, revealed that they were examining the credibility of information from a source that alleged that Diana was murdered by a member of the British military.
Actor publicly lambasted several tabloids and paparazzi agencies following Diana's death. A few of the tabloids Clooney following the outburst, stating that he "owed a fair portion of his celebrity" to the tabloids and photo agencies in question.
Diana was ranked third in the 2002 poll sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the British public, after (1st) (a distant cousin), and (2nd), just above (4th), (5th), and (6th). That same year, another British poll named Diana's death as the most important event in the country's last 100 years. Historian Nick Barrett criticised this outcome as being "a pretty shocking result".
Later in 2004, US TV network showed pictures of the crash scene in one of its programmes which were "part of a 4,000-page French government report." It showed an intact rear side and centre section of the Mercedes, including one of an unbloodied Diana with no outward injuries crouched on the rear floor with her back to the right passenger seat—the right rear door is fully open. The release of these pictures were poorly received in the UK, where it was felt that the privacy of Diana was being infringed. Buckingham Palace, UK Prime Minister and Diana's brother condemned the action, while CBS defended its decision saying that the pictures "are placed in journalistic context - an examination of the medical treatment given to Princess Diana just after the crash."
On 13 July 2006, Italian magazine published photographs that showed Diana amid the wreckage of the car crash; the photos were released despite an unofficial blackout on such photographs being published. The editor of Chi defended his decision by saying he published the photographs simply because they had not been previously seen, and he felt the images were not disrespectful to the memory of Diana.
The British newspaper has been criticised for continued and sustained coverage of Princess Diana following her death. A 2006 report in showed that the newspaper had mentioned her in numerous recent news stories, with headlines including "Perhaps Diana should have worn seatbelt", "Diana inquiry chief's laptop secrets stolen", "£250,000 a year bill to run Diana fountain" and "Diana seatbelt sabotage probe".
Diana's death occurred at a time when Internet use in the developed world was booming, and several national newspapers and at least one British regional newspaper had already launched online news services. had set up online coverage of the earlier in 1997 and as a result of the widespread public and media attention that Diana's death resulted in, BBC News swiftly created a website featuring news coverage of Diana's death and the events that followed it. Diana's death helped BBC News officials realise how important online news services were becoming, and a full was launched on 4 November that year, alongside the launch of the BBC's rolling news channel on 9 November.