Run-up to the inquest into Diana's death

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Royal Highness
Oct 31, 2003
I'll sue, says Burrell as Charles is identified
By Tom Leonard, Media Editor
(Filed: 07/01/2004)

The Daily Mirror was attacked by the former royal butler Paul Burrell after it published a letter in which Diana, Princess of Wales named Prince Charles as the "senior Royal" who she believed wanted to kill her.

The letter, written by her to Mr Burrell 10 months before her death, was included in his book, A Royal Duty, but the crucial passage was previously blanked out by the publishers, Penguin, and the Mirror, which serialised the work.

Yesterday, the newspaper revealed that the letter read: "This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous - my husband is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry."

The paper admitted that the allegation would seem "utterly preposterous to many people" and Piers Morgan, its editor, said later that he believed the Princess's death was an accident.

However, he defended his decision to identify Prince Charles, arguing that as the coroner had approached Mr Burrell for the uncensored letter, the information was bound to come out anyway.

Mr Burrell said he was consulting lawyers about possibly suing the newspaper.

Speaking outside his home in Farndon, Cheshire, Mr Burrell told Sky News: "I'm not happy about it. I only learned about it late last night and it was always my intention never to publish that name."

Clarence House refused to comment on the letter, possibly revealing a reluctance to say anything that would reflect badly on the Princess. However Colleen Harris, Prince Charles's former press secretary, dismissed the claim as "absolute nonsense" and "unbelievable".
I have a question that is sort of related to this article: If Paul Burrell was in possession of this letter in the weeks and months following the accident that pointed the finger at Charles as a suspect in the least, why did he not come forward with it to authorities who were investigating the accident? Might this little factoid or suspicion/fear by Diana have been an important lead for investigators to follow up on in order to determine if Diana and Dodi's death was an accident or intentional?
"Might this little factoid or suspicion/fear by Diana have been an important lead for investigators to follow up on in order to determine if Diana and Dodi's death was an accident or intentional?"

Good point. Mr. Burrell's true motives have been just revealed I guess. Waiting for the book to be finished. Or he is really concerned about Diana's privacy. There was the court case about another butler stealing things. Maybe Diana had told Paul and some of the people working for her to protect her after she is "gone", since she wrote that she felt that she might be dead sooner than later, and to guard over her things and to wait a certain amount of time or not tell anybody that they were in possession of such personal items. All speculation. But I wonder what his motives were in holding onto the letter if, indeed, she truly believed what she wrote. Of course, the ex-husband or husband is always the first one police suspect in such a situation. It's up in the air for me.
There was an interview on Australian television last night with royal biographer Robert Lacey. He indicated that the letter has been quoted out of context and is, in fact, details of Diana's conversations with her astrologer and a record of her own fears.

But, of course, that wouldn't fit in with Mr Burrell's self serving motives???
Interesting story wymanda.

I just don't know what to make of Paul Burrell. At times he seems like Princess Diana's biggest supporter/ally/friend and faithful servant, and at other times, as wymanda pointed out, he seems like a selfish, self-serving, greedy individual who is out to make mega bucks because of his royal connection.

I tend to think, more often than not, that Paul Burrell is more interested in cashing in on his royal relationship with Diana. Maybe I am naive, but I would hope that a true supporter/ally/friend and faithful servant would not go running to the press time and time again, write books or give interviews, etc.
Originally posted by Alexandria@Jan 7th, 2004 - 7:27 pm
Maybe I am naive, but I would hope that a true supporter/ally/friend and faithful servant would not go running to the press time and time again, write books or give interviews, etc.
I believe that at least those hired by the Queen has to sign a contract that they won't do those things. After the nanny of Princess Elizabeth & Princess Margaret published a book about them the Royal family of Great Britain have sought to protect themselves against these kinds of things. (I think Crawfie was the nickname of someone trusted who turned on them, after the nanny.)
Originally posted by norwegianne@Jan 9th, 2004 - 5:28 pm
I believe that at least those hired by the Queen has to sign a contract that they won't do those things. After the nanny of Princess Elizabeth & Princess Margaret published a book about them the Royal family of Great Britain have sought to protect themselves against these kinds of things.
That seems logical. If Michael Jackson has everyone who comes near him sign confidentiality agreements, why wouldn't/shouldn't the Queen, right?

But why wouldn't the same protection be extended to Diana? Didn't Burrell start working for her while she was still married to Prince Charles? And even if he was hired on after the divorce, wouldn't the palace still want to protect Diana's privacy. Not necessarily for her sake, but as Princes William and Harry would be spending a lot of time with her at her home (and by extension with Burrell), wouldn't the palace sought to protect their privacy, too?
From Hello!

9 JANUARY 2004

Prince William has called off a meeting with Princess Diana's former butler, after one of his mother's private letters found its way into the tabloid press. He had requested the meeting with Paul Burrell after the controversial publication of the royal servant's memoirs last year.

The Prince apparently hoped to win a pledge from his mother's one-time confidante that he would not make any more damaging revelations. It seems he changed his mind, however, because he feared Burrell would only use the meeting to make more money.

His new decision comes after the publication of a letter in which Diana voiced her fear that Prince Charles was plotting to kill her. After his 2002 trial at the Old Bailey collapsed, Paul Burrell said he would never betray his former employer's trust. He subsequently wrote a book containing intimate secrets and damaging revelations about the royal family, however.

"There is a limit to how many times Burrell can swear he is taking Diana's secrets to the grave and then reveal them a few days later," said a source close to the royals.

According to newspaper reports, Prince Charles and Prince Harry were both staunchly opposed to William's plans for a face-to-face with Mr Burrell. Prince Philip, meanwhile, said that any meeting with the former royal servant would "dignify his treachery".
"But why wouldn't the same protection be extended to Diana? Didn't Burrell start working for her while she was still married to Prince Charles? And even if he was hired on after the divorce, wouldn't the palace still want to protect Diana's privacy. Not necessarily for her sake, but as Princes William and Harry would be spending a lot of time with her at her home (and by extension with Burrell), wouldn't the palace sought to protect their privacy, too? "

Good points. I would have thought that an agreement would have be signed for the princes. Bravo to William. Don't dignify him with a meeting. Scandal-monger.
I agree Dennism. Whatever the motives of Paul Burrell are, I think William would have simply added fuel to the fire by meeting him..
I do not think P. Charles is responsible for the deaths of Diana and Dodi. I sincerely hope that he is not. However, I hope P. William and Harry learn a valuable lesson from all this. Whatever is done in secret will one day be brought to light. I hope Willam and Harry think wisely before they do anything. I hope they will be kind to whomever they choose to be their wives. The media will not allow Charles to forget how badly he treated Diana. While Diana was no saint, I'm sure Charles is regretting having been so cruel to her. I have never seen an heir to the throne anywhere so maligned.
Originally posted by bluetortuga@Jan 9th, 2004 - 8:51 pm
I'm sure Charles is regretting having been so cruel to her. I have never seen an heir to the throne anywhere so maligned.
Does anyone ever think about the trauma that Diana's fragile state of mind put Charles through?? Also, what damage did she do to William by pouring all of her woes and delusions onto him??
Charles should have never married her if he didn't love her. Supposedly he was still carrying on with camilla. For goodness sake if at 20 I discover that my new husband still carried a torch for his old flame I would have been devastated. :(
This article just about sums it up for me...

It's from The Mirror..

IT'S NOT hard, given his propensity for moodiness, to imagine how Prince Charles must feel today.

Persecuted, forlorn, embittered and no doubt protesting, as always, that he's a misunderstood victim of circumstances.

Even Shakespeare, at his finest, would have been hard pushed to conjure up anything quite so dramatic as the fate that's befallen the Prince of Wales.

As a morality tale it takes some beating.

From beyond the grave the Prince's estranged wife, Diana, returns to haunt him via Paul Burrell. Her butler has, in his possession, a letter written a few months before her death revealing her darkest fears.

Her husband, she claims, wants to do her in. His modus operandi, Diana explains, is a car accident. Ten months later she's killed when the Mercedes she is travelling in with lover, Dodi Fayed, crashes in Paris.

Whichever way you look at it, the picture for Charles is bleak. Because, absurd though the allegation may seem, there will be millions who really don't see it as far-fetched at all. Why would they?

For six-and-a-half years her death has raised more questions than answers and it's only now, prompted by media furore and the need to quell conspiracy theories, that an inquest has been launched in Britain.

Even if the letter, which Diana called her insurance, is the product of a fevered imagination, it still begs the question as to why she felt so utterly petrified for her life, and terribly vulnerable.

As a columnist, you get to recognise the hallmarks of a nutter but this letter isn't written in green ink nor are her words the meandering thoughts of a complete madwoman. If Prince Charles meant her no ill, she patently didn't believe it.

"I have cried," she wrote in the damning note, "more than anyone will ever know". No wonder. Emotionally fragile, devastated at losing her HRH status and desperately lonely, her ex did nothing to offer her protection or comfort. Instead, his Byzantine court curried favour with him by promoting rumours that his ex-wife was mentally unstable, erratic and a neurotic attention-seeker. There was a market in anti-Diana stories and, if Charles was aware of the trade, he did little to halt it.

She was followed by MI5, her telephone bugged and boyfriends monitored.

Bluntly, Diana was left to hang out to dry. Charles repeated this policy by ignoring Paul Burrell's pleas for help.

Had he acted to prevent the butler from being dragged through a ludicrous Old Bailey trial, it's unlikely Burrell's book or the letter would have seen the light of day.

So if this week Prince Charles feels trapped, cornered, more than a little paranoid and worried about his future, my abiding thought is that it serves him right.

Diana would call it karma, though most of us would simply say you reap what you sow. Right now Charles has a harvest of misery, all of it self-inflicted.

He betrayed a beautiful wife for a woman who mothers him but will never be what he wants, a much-loved Queen.

In the past year, he's been exposed as a weak man who presided over a shambolic court at St James's Palace where gifts were flogged and bullying was rife.

This week we discover he was the most popular hit on Google internet searches in 2003. None of them, alas, prompted by interest in his wellbeing but by the alleged palace romps of a sexual nature.

Even his once-trusted PR, Mark Bolland, has served up intimate tittle-tattle, albeit sugar coated. All of this can only drive him into deeper despair.

Crown jewels apart, one suspects what Prince Charles truly craves is respect.

What a shame no one told him that, unlike the crown, it's not a divine right but something even the richest, most remote and fawned-over man on earth must earn.
"He betrayed a beautiful wife for a woman who mothers him but will never be what he wants, a much-loved Queen."

Has he said that this is what he wants? I think more than anything he wants a woman who love him no matter what.
The Royal who hires you is responsible for insisting that you sign the agreement, not the Palace as a whole. There was an agreement in place when C & D were together (hence the housekeeper scandal which could have landed her in court). But after the separation, it was Diana's responsibility to insist that her staff sign the agreements. Either she didn't do that, or they don't think it counts now that she's dead. Jephson signed an agreement, but, according to him, now that Diana's dead, he's not bound to hold to it. No one knows whether Burrell signed one for Diana.
Thanks for clearing that up, Kelly.
No problem, Dennism.

The problem that I have with the agreements being between two individuals (the Royal and the staff member) is what's popping up now.

Because the housekeeper's agreement was with Charles and Diana, either could sue for breach of contract. When she tried to sell her story in Scotland a year or so ago (he got an injunction forbidding her from selling it in England and Wales in the 1990s), he had to go to court again to sue her in Scotland. He's still able to enforce the agreement, even though Diana's gone.

But because Jephson's agreement was between himself and Diana, can Diana's heirs sue him on her behalf for his flouting of the agreement? Apparently not, or I think they would have done/threatened it. So once that Royal dies, their staff have free rein to write anything.

If the agreement was between the Royal Family (as a whole) and the staff member, the agreement could be enforced even after the Royal employer dies, because the staff would have agreed not to betray any of the Royals. It would allow Diana's heirs to do something to stop some of these stories coming out. I don't think they're going to move to that, but perhaps they should.
I feel awful for W & H. Not only do they have their mother being dragged out again, but they have their father under suspicion for arranging her death. And they keep having to deal with the betrayals. They have to feel they can't trust anyone right now.

LONDON - British police have doubts about the authenticity of the blood sample that led French investigators to conclude drunk driving caused the car crash that killed Princess Diana, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The Times of London reported that senior officers were concerned that no DNA test was conducted to prove the blood sample belonged to Henri Paul, chauffeur of the car that crashed in a Paris underpass on Aug. 31, 1997.

Princess Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and Paul were all killed in the crash, which a French court ruled in 2002 was an accident caused by Paul's speeding and being under the influence of alcohol.

A police spokesman said Saturday the force had no comment on the Times report.

French police inspector Jean-Claude Mules, who played a central role in the investigation, told The Times there was no mistake about the blood sample. "We are very serious people and no errors are allowed," he was quoted as saying.

Many people continue to believe that Diana was the victim of a conspiracy, however, variously pointing to the royal family and intelligence agencies.

British coroner Michael Burgess, who opened an inquest into the deaths of the princess and Fayed this week, has asked London's Metropolitan Police to investigate whether there is any evidence the deaths were not the result of a "straightforward road traffic accident."

The Times said there were "high-level concerns" that Paul's blood could have been mixed up with another sample in a laboratory or the mortuary where his body was taken.

It said the sample tested contained extremely high levels of carbon monoxide that could have rendered Paul incapable of driving.

Fayed's father, Mohammed Al Fayed, and Paul's parents have repeatedly said they are not convinced the blood sample tested was Paul's and have drawn attention to the high carbon monoxide level.

A French court-designated expert said in 1999 that the carbon monoxide level was due to Paul inhaling gas from the car's air bags. "
I also feel for William and Harry. The thing that angers me is that the peope that control the tabloids have to know what this is going to do to these two boys and how it will make them feel, what they are suppossed to be happy. The editor or owner of the Daily Mail said the only reason he made the name public was because it was going to be sensational, he doesn't even believe it!!! Its' disgusting.
"The editor or owner of the Daily Mail said the only reason he made the name public was because it was going to be sensational, he doesn't even believe it!!!"

This is disgusting.
I don't blame the Daily Mail though.

Paul Burrell is being a hypocrite - he gave (sold) the Daily Mail the letter, and now that they've published the name he says he'll be seeing his lawyer??

What did he expect?
And, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

From The Sun..

Burrell 'to tell all on stage'

BIG-mouth butler Paul Burrell wants to spill yet more Royal secrets — on the STAGE.

Several theatres in London’s West End have been approached about staging a one-man show featuring Princess Diana’s former flunkey.

It would be called An Evening with Paul Burrell and he would talk about his Royal service.

Pals say Burrell, 42, now on a book tour, has grown “addicted” to fame and has told his agents to get new projects.

The Ambassadors Theatre Group in London confirmed an approach.

Meanwhile Health Secretary John Reid, visiting a planned mental health project in Sunderland with the Prince of Wales, said the public should be supporting Charles and “getting off his back”.
I don't know what Paul Burrell was thinking. He sold the Daily Mail the letter and expected them not to reveal the name, he sold it to a tabloid for goodness sake!!!

"An account by a witness to the Paris car crash which killed Diana,
Princess of Wales, has added weight to the theory that it was a
tragic accident.

The testimony, published for the first time, reportedly comes from
the driver of a grey Citroen BX which was in front of the Mercedes
when it crashed in the Pont D'Alma tunnel on August 31 1997.

Mohamed Medjahdi's account would be handed over by French police to
British investigators looking again at the events which led to the
deaths of the Princess, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri
Paul, the Daily Mail said.

The Algerian-born 29-year-old, whose girlfriend was also in the
car,told the newspaper the car had been "slewing out of control",
hurtling towards him.

He accelerated away just before there was an explosion and the
limousine crashed into a concrete pillar and the tunnel wall, he

He told the Mail: "It was a dreadful sound, like a bomb exploding,
magnified and echoing around the underpass. Even today, six years
later, I can't get the sight and sound out of my head. I can still
hear the screeching of those brakes."

He insisted there were no other vehicles or photographers in sight
when the crash happened.

He added: "I am absolutely convinced, clear and certain, that this
was a tragedy - but it was an accident."

The French inquiry concluded that Mr Paul, high on a cocktail of
drink and drugs, lost control of the Mercedes car while speeding in
the Pont D'Alma tunnel.

Inquests into the deaths of Diana and Dodi were opened and
adjourned earlier this month by royal coroner Michael Burgess. He has asked
Metropolitan Police to investigate speculation that the deaths were
not the result of a "straightforward, road traffic accident"
Paul Burrell is really asking a lot if he expects people to believe that he wrote his book simply as a tribute to Diana and to set the record straight after attacks by others, and then wrote all sorts of personal things about her boyfriends and printed extracts of a letter that should have been handed over to the French authorities years ago if it really contained anything relevant to the accident. He's just money spinning, and I'm surprised Prince William even entertained the thought of meeting with him since that would have been yet more fodder for the money mill.

When his book came out, I asked the people in our local bookstore if it was selling well, and they said it really wasn't. I was very pleased to hear that.
I found an articles while looking through the Time Magazine website. It's pretty long:

Haunting Diana

A British coroner asks police to investigate the death of the Princess of Wales, reviving all those wild conspiracy theories. Will they ever let her rest in peace? Never, says royals reporter STEPHEN BATES, even as he debunks the myths
For a man attending the inquests into the death of his beloved son and his son's girlfriend, Mohammed al Fayed was anything but mournful. Accompanied by a phalanx of lawyers and p.r. flacks, the Egyptian-born billionaire emerged last Tuesday morning from an inquest session in London with an unmistakable air of triumph. And no wonder: the coroner, Michael Burgess, had just announced that he had asked Scotland Yard to help investigate the August 1997 deaths of Dodi Fayed and Diana, Princess of Wales. After identical proceedings in Reigate, 30 km south of London, al Fayed Senior — who owns the iconic London store Harrods and Fulham Football Club but has long felt shut out by the British establishment — gave the media pack his personal, oft-repeated verdict. "I suspect not only Prince Charles but Prince Philip, who is a racist," he announced. "It is absolutely black-and-white, horrendous murder." With that, the tycoon eased into a dark red Mercedes, looking altogether self-satisfied.

Nearly six-and-a-half years after that fatal car crash in a Paris tunnel, al Fayed finally had an entire nation (and a sizable chunk of the world) paying attention to his claim that Diana and Dodi had been murdered by British agents. Until now, it was mostly Diana worshipers and some paranoid Arab commentators who bought the conspiracy story; after all, al Fayed had provided not a jot of proof for his claim. But by calling in the police, Burgess had — wittingly or not — fired the imaginations of people around the world who suspect royal skulduggery. ("They have to investigate," says Sayed Ragab, a Cairo bookstore worker, "because there was surely foul play.") And if more fuel were needed, the U.K.'s Daily Mirror had supplied it that very morning: the tabloid revealed that in a letter written to her butler, Paul Burrell, 10 months before her death, Diana expressed the fear that she might be murdered in a car crash arranged by her ex-husband Charles, heir to the British throne.

And al Fayed's claim got another boost at week's end: the London Times reported that French investigators into the crash failed to conduct dna tests to confirm that a crucial blood sample, showing Diana's driver Henri Paul was drunk at the time of the crash, did indeed belong to Paul. The billionaire would no doubt take special pleasure in other reports that Charles and British intelligence agencies will face police questioning.

Coroners are sober folks, representatives of one of the oldest and most independent arms of the arcane English judicial system. They usually work in dusty rooms at the back of courthouses, establishing the cause of unexpected deaths. Few ever find themselves in the glare of the world's TV cameras. But Burgess might as well get used to it. A gray-haired, bespectacled lawyer, he is a pivotal figure in the latest chapter of the Diana saga. Not only is he Britain's royal coroner, in which capacity he is looking into Diana's death, but he is also coroner for the county of Surrey, where Dodi is buried, and is thus responsible for finding out his cause of death as well. (The conspiracy theorists may decide that this can't be mere coincidence.) The two inquests were opened separately Tuesday, but may eventually be held jointly since the two people died in the same crash.

As the reporters track Burgess's progress, they will inevitably find themselves jostling for space with a hardy band of Diana devotees — webmasters and hobbyists who incubate and nurture all manner of stories about the "truth" behind her death. Burgess must know that no matter what he finally concludes, they will never believe anything but that she was murdered. After all, they remain unmoved by the French investigation, carried out over two years by 30 detectives, who interviewed 300 witnesses to produce a 6,000-page report. The verdict: it was an accident. Diana and Dodi were being driven too fast, into a tunnel with a curve and a difficult road camber, by a chauffeur, Paul, who was not used to driving the powerful Mercedes S-280 and who was incapacitated by alcohol and prescription drugs. Paul, the investigators concluded, lost control of the vehicle and three of the four people in the car died. The survivor, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only one who had bothered to buckle up his seatbelt.

The sudden or violent death of any public icon is invariably attended by fanciful, often crackpot conjecture. That Diana, in death, should go the way of John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Martin Luther King Jr. was presaged by the worldwide spasm of grief in the week following the crash. The speculation began almost immediately: a website called the First Diana Conspiracy Site was up and running within 13 minutes of news of her death. Fingers were pointed at the Freemasons, the British government, the Vatican, the I.R.A., even the global-arms industry. One instant theory was that a paparazzo who had been chasing the Mercedes was actually in the employ of Britain's MI6, and had shot out the tires. Another suggested the lovers were alive and had been spirited away in a van.

The rumors took hold quickest in the Arab world. Within hours of the crash, Egyptian writer Mohammad Hassanein Haykal wrote for the mena news agency:
They have to investigate, because there was surely foul play

— SAYED RAGAB, Cairo bookstore worker

"A conspiracy-type question arises here was something arranged to kill the two most famous lovers of the closing years of the 20th century?" A day or two later, Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi weighed in during an official broadcast: "British and French secret services mounted and executed the assassination of the Princess of Wales and the Arab citizen who were planning to get married." Gaddafi didn't explain how he had come by this information, but a poll a couple of days later showed that 47% of Palestinians believed the crash had been arranged. Soon paperbacks with titles like Did Diana Die a Muslim? were on sale in Cairo. Another — Who Killed Diana? Order From the Palace — said she was killed because she "threatened to bring down the Crown."

Mohammed al Fayed waited several months before making his allegation to the Daily Mirror on Feb. 12, 1998. He was, he said, "99.9% certain it was no accident. That car did not accidentally crash. There was a conspiracy." That August he offered a reward of up to $20 million to anyone who could prove it. A year after the crash, a poll found that nearly a quarter of Britons believed there had been a conspiracy — a figure that has held to this day (a recent Sunday Express poll found 27% believed it, while a highly unscientific call-in poll netted a whopping 85%).
Al Fayed has never stopped believing. The Harrods boss has a thirst for vengeance against an establishment that has denied him British citizenship and refused to take him to its bosom. He seems convinced that the pinnacle of that establishment — the royal family — had his son killed because he was about to seize Diana, its crown jewel. So the billionaire has funded endless litigation and appeals, so helping delay the inquest for half a decade. Now he has hired one of the most expensive, able and left-wing lawyers in the country to make his case. Michael Mansfield specializes in defending victims of miscarriages of justice — such as the Birmingham Six, Irishmen wrongly convicted of being I.R.A. bombers. It is fair to assume that he will subsidize his pro bono work through his work for al Fayed. He certainly has a talent for getting up the nose of British officialdom.

Ranged against al-Fayed's team is ... nobody. Since this is not a trial, there are no plaintiffs or defendants. But as last Tuesday's events showed, there is an accused: Charles. That the Prince cannot defend himself against the charges in a courtroom — unless he sues for libel, which he has never done — must be especially galling for him. Reviled in the immediate aftermath of Diana's death, Charles was subsequently able to rehabilitate his image, proving a loving and attentive father to his sons, Princes William and Harry, and even winning popular approval for his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. But he has suffered a bad-press relapse in recent months. Amid allegations of lurid goings-on among the servants, he has had to deny unsubstantiated and far-fetched tales about his own sexual behavior, all contributing to an unsavory impression of life at his court. Now the Windsors can only watch and wince as the investigators begin their work and the conspiracy buffs clog the airwaves. Here are some of the wildest hypotheses:

Charles ordered it. Like al Fayed, many theorists believe British agents acted on the Prince's orders to kill the couple. Why would Charles want her bumped off? To prevent her marrying Dodi. Never mind that Diana hardly knew Dodi, having met him only six weeks before, or that she had, according to her close friends, no intention of marrying him.

Diana was pregnant. The story goes that she was carrying a child by Dodi — or possibly by her previous lover, the Pakistani-born surgeon Hasnat Khan. The Princess was said to be keen to have a "beautiful brown baby." Al Fayed and many in the Arab world have assumed that the Windsors could not bear the idea of an Islamic strain in the royal bloodline. ("Can you imagine his son Prince William, the would-be King of England, having a half-brother who is Muslim?" asks Manila cab driver Abdil Causal.) Never mind that she was no longer a member of the royal family following her divorce from Charles. The conspiracists claim that the formaldehyde injected by the French to preserve her body might have disguised any chemical evidence of her pregnancy. Last week the former royal coroner, John Burton, one of only two people present at Diana's postmortem examination, tried to quash the rumor once and for all. "She wasn't pregnant," he told a British paper. "I have seen into her womb." But he conceded that "when it's all over, 95% of the people will still disregard the facts and want to go back to their conspiracies."

The white Fiat did it. Conspiracists are divided over the assassins' modus operandi. Perhaps Henri Paul was blinded by flashlights pointed at his eyes by agents standing on the sidewalk — the Diana equivalent of the grassy knoll. A more popular theory is that the driver of a mysterious small white car veered into the Mercedes and deliberately caused it to crash. The French investigation into small scratches of white paint found on the side of the wreckage of the Mercedes established that they could only have come from a Fiat Uno car made between 1983 and 1987. Although one was spotted by a couple driving through the tunnel just before the accident, the car itself and its owner were never found. The police decided that, although the Mercedes might have touched a Fiat in a glancing blow, that was not what caused it to crash. In any event, how many secret services would use a 10-year-old jalopy as the murder weapon? Also, the couple had decided on their route only a few minutes before setting off from the Ritz Hotel. There was no way for anyone else to anticipate what direction they were taking, no time to finalize or carry out a plot.
The paparazzi did it. Since the Mercedes was being followed by several photographers on motor scooters, some have surmised that one or more tried to get too close to Diana's car — and sent it careening out of control. The trouble is, Henri Paul had left the pursuing photographers far behind by driving at 160 km/h. The French investigators castigated the paparazzi, even arrested some for a time, but ultimately decided they did not cause the crash.

Most objective analysts finger Paul for the crash, pointing out that he was in no condition to drive when Fayed Senior ordered him to do so. But the conspiracists will pounce on last week's report about the lack of DNA tests. Already, there have been allegations that the French postmortem tests showed Paul's blood had a very high level of carbon monoxide. But this appears to have been achieved by conspiracists adding the results of two different samples of his blood — one from his heart, the other from his groin — instead of taking an average between the two readings. Closer examination of the blood test shows that taking account of the fact that he had been smoking all evening, the carbon monoxide level was not abnormally high.

In short, none of the theories stacks up. Why, then, do they survive — and keep on getting new twists? One reason is that the original conspiracy theorist was Diana herself. She claimed someone had tried to take a "potshot" at her in London's Hyde Park, and darkly warned during the time of her divorce that she would one day be killed on Charles' orders in a helicopter crash. And last year, her former butler Burrell revealed the contents of her letter speculating that Charles would have her killed in a car accident. The Prince's name was blacked out, apparently for legal reasons, in Burrell's book, but the Daily Mirror revealed it last week. Diana's distraught letter didn't say why Charles would want to kill the mother of his two young sons — or think he could get away with it.

It's not hard to convince some of Charles' subjects that he was dastardly in his treatment of Diana. As the British know from long experience, the Windsor family is as secretive as it is dysfunctional. So many stories about them — brazen adultery, stingy treatment of servants — have proved to be true. In 1936, the then placid London papers were the last to report that King Edward VIII was planning to abdicate for his American mistress Wallis Simpson. They have never been so tardy or respectful since, ignoring no sliver of a rumor, however sleazy and unlikely, lest it be true. They supply their readers with a steady diet of soap-opera tales, the information coming mainly from royal staff eager to cash in. And by golly it's interesting stuff: Charles throws plates when angry, the Queen cares more for her pet corgis than people.

Diana may not have understood how to cope with the royal family, but she knew her soap operas and she knew her media. She would have enjoyed the fact that she can still give her former husband hell, and that she remains a global icon, the beautiful princess who triumphed over the ghastly family and eventually slipped the surly bonds of earth.

So now the royals have yet another problem. Michael Burgess's decision to hand the conspiracy theories over to the police means that the straightforward explanation for the accident can never win. Even if the theories are fully discounted and dispatched, that will only be seen as incontrovertible proof of a cover-up.
Here is another from

What Michael Burgess Is Looking For
Why did Britain take more than six years to start the inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed? The inquests had to wait until the completion of lengthy French police investigations and judicial proceedings, which were delayed, among other things, by the many appeals filed by Dodi's father, Mohammed al Fayed.

Why are there separate inquests for Diana and Dodi? Under English law, inquests into unexpected deaths are conducted by a coroner appointed by the county in which the victim dies or is buried. For deaths within the extended Windsor family, inquests are conducted by the royal coroner. Michael Burgess, the coroner for Surrey, where Dodi is buried, just happens also to be coroner of the Queen's Household, and is therefore responsible for the Diana inquest. He may yet merge the two.

What is Burgess looking for? The inquests are not public inquiries, but aim to establish how, when and where a death occurred. An inquest does not apportion guilt, but evidence thrown up by an inquest can lead to actions in civil or criminal courts.

But why did Burgess call in the police? He said he was aware that there was speculation about the cause of the deaths, and felt that police findings would help him decide on whether the inquest should investigate these rumors.

But wouldn't such an investigation be beyond the scope of an inquest? No, the coroner must ensure the causes and circumstances of these deaths are thoroughly investigated.

What is Burgess's timetable? He has adjourned for 12 to 15 months, to examine the results of the French proceedings. He will then hear witnesses and could record the verdict himself, if he decides against summoning juries.
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