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The Crown: What Really Happened on the Tragic Night of Princess Diana’s Death?

The Crown season six, episode three, “Dis-Moi Oui,” deals with a famously tragic night in history: the death of Princess Diana. Over the course of an hour, Peter Morgan reimagines the final hours of the princess and Dodi Fayed in Paris as they are sieged by paparazzi and buckle under the weight of Diana’s superstardom. Everywhere they go, they are followed. At one point, they even need to leave the restaurant of the Ritz Paris because of all the attention they receive. Eventually, they choose to head back to Fayed’s apartment through the back door of the hotel in a spur-of-the-moment decision after Diana (kindly) rejects his proposal. The viewer knows what happens next: Their car, with an intoxicated driver at the wheel and tailed by paparazzi, crashes into a tunnel.

While the private conversations between Fayed and Diana are figments of imagination—and the possibility of an engagement proposal very much speculative—much of the episode closely mirrors the real, tragic evening.

In 2004, London’s Metropolitan Police launched Operation Paget, an official investigation into the death of Princess Diana and the many conspiracy theories that surrounded it. Dodi Fayed’s father, Mohamed, alleged a conspiracy to murder the couple, suggesting that the royal family “could not accept that an Egyptian Muslim could eventually be the stepfather of the future King of England,” according to the operation’s 871-page report in 2006. The police issued their findings as part of a British court inquest between 2007 and 2008. That jury concluded that Diana died unlawfully due to the “grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles [the paparazzi] and of the Mercedes driver, Henri Paul.” The elder Fayed accepted the verdict.

In the investigative process, they pieced a stark, sad timeline of the princess’s final night in Paris.

On August 30, 1997, the Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed flew from Sardinia to Le Bourget airport outside Paris. They landed around 3: 30 p.m., and paparazzi were waiting for them on the tarmac.

Philippe Dourneau, a driver for Dodi, picked up the couple as well as their bodyguard and drove them to the Fayed home of Villa Windsor in the 16th arrondissement. Their luggage, however, was dropped off at another Fayed apartment in rue Arsène Houssaye. After a short visit, Diana and Dodi left for the Ritz Paris, which Mohamed owned, and arrived at 4: 30 p.m. They stayed in the hotel’s Imperial Suite.



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