Perhaps it’s fitting that one of the most famous icons of the 20th century also had one of the most controversial deaths. Princess Di was only 36 when she was killed in the August 31, 1997 limousine crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris which also killed her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed and their driver. The cause of the crash was not so cut-and-dry, though. Initially, paparazzi following the limo in hot pursuit were blamed for making the driver, Henri Paul, lose control. A subsequent judicial investigation found that Paul was actually intoxicated and under the influence of an anti-depressant and an anti-psychotic at the time of the crash.
Repeated inquests and conspiracy theories have maintained the mystery surrounding Diana’s death. In February 1998, Dodi’s father, Mohamed Al-Fayed claimed that the crash was a result of a conspiracy. He later contended that the crash was orchestrated by MI6 on the instructions of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. These claims were dismissed by a French judicial investigation that concluded in 2006.
An inquest into the deaths of Diana and Dodi began in 2007. In 2008, the jury released an official statement that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed by the grossly negligent driving of chauffeur Henri Paul and the paparazzi. The jury named the intoxication of the driver and the victims’ decisions to not wear seat-belts as contributing factors to their deaths. Additionally, the limo had been traveling at over twice the legal speed limit of that particular section of road and had long since left the paparazzi vehicles far behind by the time the accident occurred.
No amount of legal conclusions will curb public interest in the late Princess’ untimely death, though. The most recent related documentary, Unlawful Killing, was released this year.
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