Diana, Princess of Wales (July 1, 1961 - August 31, 1997) was a member of the British royal family. She was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent to the British throne, and the mother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. She was killed in a car accident on August 31, 1997 at the age of 36.

Death[edit | edit source]

On August 30, 1997, Diana and Dodi Fayed, son of Mohamed al-Fayed and owner of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, arrived in Paris, France en route to London. Having spent the preceding nine days together on the French and Italian Riviera, onboard Dodi's father's yacht, the Jonikal, they had intended to stay overnight at a apartment owned by al-Fayed, located in Rue Arséne Houssaye, a short distance from the hotel, just off the Avenue des Champs Elysées.

Henri Paul, the Acting Head of Security at the Ritz Hotel, had been instructed to drive the black 1994 Mercedes-Benz S280, registration number "688 LTV 75", through Paris in order to elude the paparazzi. A decoy vehicle left the Ritz first, attracting a throng of photographers, leaving Diana and Fayed to then depart from the hotel's rear entrance, around 12:20 am on August 31, 1997 to return to the apartment. They were the rear passengers in the Mercedes-Benz driven by Paul. Trevor Rees-Jones, a member of the Fayed family's personal protection team, was in the front passenger seat.

At around 12:23 am, at the entrance to the tunnel, their driver lost control; the car swerved to the left of the two-lane carriageway before colliding head-on with the 13th pillar supporting the roof at an estimated speed of 65 mph. It then spun and hit the stone wall of the tunnel backward, finally coming to a stop. The impact of the crash caused substantial damage, particularly to the front half of the vehicle. As the victims lay in the wrecked car, the photographers continued to take pictures. Critically injured, Diana was reported to repeatedly murmur "oh my God," and, after the photographers were pushed away by emergency teams, "leave me alone".

Dodi Fayed had been sitting in the left rear passenger seat and appeared to be dead. Fire officers would still try to resuscitate him, after he was pronounced dead by a doctor at 1:32 am. Henri Paul was declared dead on removal from the wreckage. Both were taken directly to the Institut Médico-Légal (IML), the Paris mortuary. Autopsy examination concluded that Paul and Fayed had both suffered a rupture in the isthmus of the aorta and a fractured spine, with, in the case of Paul, a medullar section in the dorsal region and in the case of Fayed a medullar section in the cervical region. Still conscious, Rees-Jones had suffered multiple serious facial injuries. The front passenger airbags had functioned normally, but none of the car's occupants were wearing seat belts.

Diana, who had been sitting in the rear right passenger seat, was still conscious. It was first reported that she was crouched on the floor of the vehicle with her back to the road. It was also reported that a photographer who saw Diana described her as bleeding from the nose and ears with her head rested on the back of the front passenger's seat. He tried to remove her from the car but her feet were stuck. Then he told her that help was on the way and to stay awake. There was no answer from Diana, just blinking.

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 pulmonary vein and the pericardium. Despite lengthy resuscitation attempts, including internal cardiac massage, she died at 4:00 a.m. Anesthesiologist Bruno Riou announced her death at 6 am at a news conference held at the hospital.

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