Twenty years ago, the death of Diana Princess of Wales stunned the world. From the shocking announcement of the news to her funeral procession lined by a million-strong crowd, this tumultuous week rocked Britain – and the monarchy.
Diana and Dodi leave the Ritz at 00.18, captured on CCTV waiting for their car. A last picture shows them in the Mercedes: Paul at the wheel, Dodi’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, the sole survivor, in the front, and Diana in the back looking out of the rear windscreen. As the car, chased by photographers, approaches Pont de l’Alma at speed, Paul clips a white Fiat Uno and loses control. It hits the 13th pillar. He has no time to brake.
Dodi and Paul die instantly. Rees-Jones is badly injured. Diana is slumped in the back. She is driven to Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital but suffers a cardiac arrest. Her pulmonary vein is torn. Despite the best efforts of staff, she dies at 4am.
At 4.41am, the Press Association issues a news flash: “Diana, Princess of Wales, has died, according to British sources.” Buckingham Palace confirmation swiftly follows. BBC newscaster Martyn Lewis announces it to viewers shortly after 5am. All other programmes are suspended. The first bouquet of flowers appears outside Diana’s Kensington Palace home at 5.30am and by lunchtime there are more than 1,000.
Diana Princess of Wales died from serious injuries in the early hours of August 31 1997 after a terrible car crash in Paris.
Her tragic death led to a huge outpouring of grief among the British people who are now remembering the beloved royal 20 years on.
Diana, Princess of Wales as the people’s princess
Mountains of flowers were left outside Diana’s home, Kensington Palace, after her tragic death.
Diana and Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
THe funeral was one of the most watched events in public history with two billion people tuning in worldwide.
More than 2,000 attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London in 1997.
The funeral arrangements were organised over just one week, and reports have suggested that tensions ran high in the Royal household as they battled with Downing Street over the arrangements.
It has recently emerged that Prince William, then aged just 15, had initially refused to walk behind his mother’s coffin, before being persuaded by his father Prince Charles.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “She was the people’s princess and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories for ever.”