President Ronald Reagan Dancing with Princess Diana at a Dinner for Prince Charles and Princess Diana of The United Kingdom in Cross Hall, 11/9/1985 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
With the media scandals taking place about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle the pressure pushed Prince Harry to speak openly for the first time about his mother’s death and how he sees the event today with a different perspective being sort of alienated from the Royal Family.
Prince Harry even mentioned that the traditions within the Royal Family always made him keep quiet about the event and move on. In one of his recent interviews, he mentioned the regret he has for not opening up sooner about his mother’s death and how this affected him as a child since he was only 12 years old when she died.
Princess Diana of Wales and her battle with the paparazzi
Princess Diana was one of the most loved royals not only in the United Kingdom but around the world. Her openness to the public, her kindness, and her lifestyle was something really appealing to everyone although in many instances she mentioned that her public life became quite stressful, especially when she had to beg paparazzi to leave her alone.
People all around loved her for who she was and the way she embraced being royalty in a time when the monarchy was somewhat falling from power. If you ask anyone who knew about her there would only be praises. She embraced all the publicity that comes with being royalty, however, even she had her moments when enough was enough, especially after giving birth to Prince Harry and Prince William.
Prince Harry mentioned that he hates being a royal primarily because of all the public attention and that, in all honesty, isn’t a good life. He also mentioned that this is something he always hated, especially when he went on holiday.
In the video below you can see a moment when Diana kindly asked the paparazzi to leave her family alone as she was afraid for the safety of her children, not as royalty but as a mother.
This constant battle with the paparazzi is a very important factor in her life and potentially in her death. Even public figures get fed up with all the popularity, especially royals that aren’t dependent on fame for some sort of success in life.
Paparazzi have their own job it is true but during the 90s they became very vicious and would go beyond that line of respect just to get a picture as if they didn’t have families. This profession was never able to comprehend how they were affecting the mental health of each celebrity or in this case royalty they were hunting.
Just because a person is popular that does not mean they like to be popular as stated by Prince Harry.
In 1997, Princess Diana was in a relationship with Dodi Fayed, the son of billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. Since the public announcement of their relationship different media outlets from around the world were offering very high bids up to £500,000 for a picture of the couple kissing.
The two were being hunted by paparazzi everywhere they went, even if they were far at sea on a private yacht the paparazzi would be right on their tail. They were not able to catch a break from them and this affected Princess Diana immensely even if she never spoke about it publicly but it was something Prince Harry always picked up on.
On the 30th of August 1997, Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed arrived in Paris where they were taken to the hotel by Henry Paul, the driver. Annoyed by the paparazzi, Princess Diana told Henry to evade the paparazzi who awaited their arrival at the airport.
This just shows that she wanted to have some peace and quiet time with her partner in Paris.
After their arrival, the couple wanted to dine out but they would never be able to escape the paparazzi as they were lined up right out of the Ritz Hotel where a limousine was waiting for them. A backup car was brought by Henry Paul behind the hotel which the couple as well as Trevor Rees-Jone (the royal bodyguard of the princess) embarked and escaped. Even with this good plan, the paparazzi were prepared for something like this so they started chasing them on motorcycles.
Henry tried to lose the paparazzi by not respecting the speed limits. In an attempt to lose the paparazzi chasing them, Henry entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris at 70 miles per hour when the limit was only 30. The driver lost control of the car and crashed into a pillar.
The Mercedes at the scene after all the victims were taken to the hospital (Source: Mirror)
One of the paparazzi chasing them was Romuald Rat accompanied by the motorcycle driver Stephane Darmon who was an important witness. Based on Darmon’s recollection, Romuald Rat got off the bike and ran to the car where he opened the door and mentioned that Princess Diana was still alive.
Rather than being a decent human being and calling an ambulance, what followed was Romuald Rat taking pictures of the victims. Another two witnesses that stopped at the scene of the accident Antonio Lopes-Borges and Ana Simão testified that the paparazzi were taking pictures of the victims rather than helping them.
Prince Harry discussed the same thing in an interview taken by Good Morning America where he blamed the paparazzi in general for the death of his mother.
Princess Diana and Trevor Rees-Jones were the only ones still alive at the time of the accident. Henry Paul and Dodi Fayed had died right on impact. Although alive, Princess Diana was in urgent need of medical assistance as she was severely injured. Every second mattered, especially those when the paparazzi took photos rather than calling for help.
Paparazzi photographers Romuald Rat, Serge Arnal, Jacques Langevin, Nikola Arsov, Laslo Veres, Christian Martinez, and Stephane Darmon, who were taken into custody after the crash killed Diana. (Source: TheGuardian)
Apart from Romuald Rat and Stephane Darmon other paparazzi soon came to the scene. These were Serge Arnal, Jacques Langevin, Nikola Arsov, Laslo Veres, Christian Martinez neither of which helped Princess Diana.
After she was declared dead, all of the paparazzi at the scene were accused of manslaughter, however, in the following days, their charges were cleared. All the paparazzi got was a one euro symbolic fine so that the media could at least say they were fined.
Princess Diana was rushed to the University Hospitals Pitié Salpêtrière — Charles Foix, Paris, France, where she was operated on but sadly she suffered major internal bleeding and she passed away at 4:53 GMT on the 31st of August 1997.
There is another theory saying that Princess Diana in fact died because of a badly placed tear in the vein of her lung. This was mentioned in a book entitled Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd, a famous forensic pathologist in Britain who also stated that such an injury was so rare that he never encountered it in his career.
On the same date, the whole world had been told of the death of Princess Diana. I do not know about the whole world, but I can assure you that the whole population of the United Kingdom fell into a depression upon hearing this news. Over 2.5 billion people around the world watched her funeral procession!
The most affected person by this news although he never said anything until now was Prince Harry. It was difficult enough for him as a 12-year-old to process the divorce between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1996, but with the death of his mother, it was something that he could not cope with and something that affects him even to this day as he mentioned in many of the recent interviews.
Funeral procession of Diana, Princess of Wales, past St. James Park. The coffin is transported by the Royal Force, Royal Horse Artillery, escorted by a group of Welsh guards. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
For years, people kept thinking that Prince Harry was too young to understand exactly what happened, but I think he knows better than anyone else exactly what happened and who should be actually blamed for Princess Diana’s death.
Who is to blame?
The paparazzi are the ones who provoked the driver to drive at high speeds in order to escape from the media. The paparazzi are the ones who pushed those looking after Princess Diana towards such dangerous actions.
There have been many debates, especially after Channel 4 (a popular British television channel) released a documentary entitled Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel which looks exactly at what happened on that tragic night.
In 2004, the British Metropolitan Police launched an investigation, looking at all the rumors and theories that gathered over the years on French soil but this operation named “Operation Paget” was terminated in 2006 as no results came up.
Another important factor to mention is that so people say Princess Diana did not have her seatbelt on upon impact, although no one will know as she might have taken it off after the impact. With the seatbelt on, she might have survived.
However, Prince Harry sees things from a different perspective, such that ultimately it is the paparazzi who simply went too far and those who chased them should have called for help rather than taking photos of a dying woman.
What is very interesting in this whole case is how a handful of people goes from being charged with manslaughter to only being fined one euro. Especially when there were at least three witnesses who confessed that the paparazzi at the scene were taking photos rather than helping.
I wonder what would have happened to them if those photos that were taken right at the scene with the victims inside the car would have been made public. Whatever the truth may have been in this whole story, it is clear that the paparazzi play an important indirect role in the whole event, to say the least.