Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 

Many questions still arise around Princess Diana’s untimely death on August 31, 1997, including whether she could have been saved. SPYSCAPE breaks down six of the most intriguing questions that linger decades later.

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 


Why did it allegedly take six years for Scotland Yard to pass French police the ‘Mishcon letter’ in which Princess Diana predicted her death?

Princess Diana met with her solicitor, Victor Mishcon, in 1995 and told him "reliable sources" warned her that efforts were being made to "get rid of her", either by a car accident or another way. Less than two years later, she was dead alongside her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul. Lord Mishcon’s note of the October 30, 1995 meeting with Diana was passed to Scotland Yard in September 1997 and put in a safe - where it reportedly lay for years, according to the Channel Four documentary Investigating Diana: Death in Paris.

A note of Mishcon’s 1997 meeting with the police was produced for the London inquiry known as Operation Paget. At the time, the police commissioner’s view was that the facts ascertained in the weeks after Diana’s death indicated her death was the result of a tragic set of circumstances. It was six years before the note was handed over to French investigators.

Michael Mansfield, a lawyer who represented Dodi Fayed’s father Mohamed Al Fayed, told Channel Four that the note is important because it’s equivalent to a premonition: “If you were a police officer investigating it, you want to hand the account over to the French. They didn’t do that. They stick it in the safe and they don’t reveal it.”

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 

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Many questions still arise around Princess Diana’s untimely death on August 31, 1997, including whether she could have been saved. SPYSCAPE breaks down six of the most intriguing questions that linger decades later.

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 


Why did it allegedly take six years for Scotland Yard to pass French police the ‘Mishcon letter’ in which Princess Diana predicted her death?

Princess Diana met with her solicitor, Victor Mishcon, in 1995 and told him "reliable sources" warned her that efforts were being made to "get rid of her", either by a car accident or another way. Less than two years later, she was dead alongside her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul. Lord Mishcon’s note of the October 30, 1995 meeting with Diana was passed to Scotland Yard in September 1997 and put in a safe - where it reportedly lay for years, according to the Channel Four documentary Investigating Diana: Death in Paris.

A note of Mishcon’s 1997 meeting with the police was produced for the London inquiry known as Operation Paget. At the time, the police commissioner’s view was that the facts ascertained in the weeks after Diana’s death indicated her death was the result of a tragic set of circumstances. It was six years before the note was handed over to French investigators.

Michael Mansfield, a lawyer who represented Dodi Fayed’s father Mohamed Al Fayed, told Channel Four that the note is important because it’s equivalent to a premonition: “If you were a police officer investigating it, you want to hand the account over to the French. They didn’t do that. They stick it in the safe and they don’t reveal it.”

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Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 


Was a white Fiat Uno involved in the crash?

The French Brigade Criminelle police chief Martine Monteil said investigators found broken red glass from another car, signs of braking, and traces of paint on the side of the black Mercedes carrying Diana. “I even found some tiny pearls. They belonged to the princess,” chief Martine Monteil told Channel Four.

Separately, a witness said a white Fiat Uno was in the tunnel but sped off, according to French reporters. Physical evidence indicated a car collided with the black Mercedes. Police searched to find the owner from a list of more than 5,000 white Fiat Unos made between 1983 and 1987 and registered in and around Paris. No arrests were made.

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 

Was Diana’s driver Henri Paul drunk?

Some of the most curious questions revolve around whether or not Princess Diana’s driver Henri Paul was actually drunk at the time of the crash. Paul, acting head of security at the Paris Ritz hotel, was off duty on the evening of Saturday, August 30, 1997 when Diana and Dodi unexpectedly arrived back at the hotel. Paul returned to work at 10:10 pm but his whereabouts in the three hours before that was never clearly established. 

Had he been drinking? French experts said his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit in France. Yet other experts questioned whether the samples from Henri Paul were properly taken - or whether they even belonged to Paul.

Barts hospital professor Atholl Johnston, a clinical pharmacologist, told a London inquiry into the deaths that one of the blood samples was probably not Henri Paul’s. The fact that results from samples taken from different parts of Paul's body were almost identical also raised suspicions. 

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 

Was Diana engaged and pregnant when she died? 

Even though they had only been dating for about a month, Dodi’s father and Ritz hotel owner Mohamed Al Fayed claimed that on August 30, the couple called him and announced they were engaged and she was pregnant. Dodi had supposedly picked up a ring at the Repossi jewelry store just outside the Ritz that evening. However, Operation Paget found no evidence to support claims the couple were engaged and Diana’s closest friends contend the romance was a summer fling.

Were they expecting a child? Dr. Robert Chapman, who performed the British autopsy on Diana, said there were no visible signs she was pregnant. The former coroner of the Queen's Household, Dr. John Burton, told The Times that he attended a post-mortem examination of the Princess's body and also found she was not pregnant.

Other experts said the visual observations were unscientific, however. “This is ridiculous - you just don’t do that,” Dr. Alan Schiller, professor and chair of pathology at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told Vanity Fair. “It is impossible to see a one-to-three-week-old fetus with the naked eye. Even at six weeks, it would be only four or five millimeters long.”

Furthermore, Vanity Fair said, there is no evidence in Diana’s autopsy report or in the French investigative file that any proper pregnancy test was ever conducted.

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 

Why didn’t Diana have her own personal security team in Paris?

After Diana's divorce, she declined the offer of Royal Protection in the belief that security officers could spy on her and report back to Prince Charles. But why would Diana not hire her own security team, people she vetted and trusted? And why wasn’t she wearing a seatbelt, as was her usual custom? 

On the princess’ last night, she left the Fayed-owned hotel in a car driven by a Fayed employee (who wasn’t a licensed chauffeur), with Fayed’s son Dodi (who she’d been dating about a month), with Fayed’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who answered to the Fayeds. They were en route to Dodi Fayed’s apartment with Henri Paul driving at an estimated 196kph (121mph) when the crash occurred. Only Rees-Jones, who survived, was wearing a seatbelt. 

Diana's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, speaking in the BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days, said: “She was religious in putting on her seat belt… Why didn't she put it on that night? I'll never know."

Ken Wharfe, Diana's Royal Protection Officer for six years up to 1993 (pictured above), said he would have insisted that Diana wear a seat belt. In his memoirs, Wharfe blamed the ‘new’ security team "I am still angry beyond words that this team of 'bodyguards' let her come to harm."

In his book, Wharfe suggests Rees-Jones should have called local Paris police for backup and insisted that everyone in the car buckle up, adding: "If any Metropolitan Police protection officer had been with her, Diana would never have got into a car with a drunk driver: not only experience but common sense would not allow it.”

Questions Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death 

Could Princess Diana have been saved? 

After the crash on August 31, 1997, Diana was reportedly found alive by rescuers responding to the accident. Less than a minute after the crash, Dr. Frederic Mailliez, who was driving home from a party, called the emergency services and attended to the princess, who he said was ‘almost unconscious’ and incapable of saying anything intelligible'. Minutes later, emergency workers arrived.

From the time the Mercedes collided with the pillar to the time Diana arrived at the University Hospitals Pitié Salpêtrière, more than one hour reportedly elapsed. Some reports say the delay was because French emergency medicine dictates patients are stabilized before being transported. Could Princess Diana have survived if Parisian ambulance crews had driven her straight to the hospital’s emergency department? It’s a question that will likely never be answered to everyone's satisfaction.

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