Princess Diana … her July of sun, sea and love … 15 years ago …

It is hard to believe that it was 15 years ago that Princess Diana died in what is believed to have been a car accident in a Paris tunnel. She died with her lover Dodi Al Fayed, son of Mohamed Al Fayed, one of Britain’s richest men, in the first minutes of Sunday, August 31 […]

It is hard to believe that it was 15 years ago that Princess Diana died in what is believed to have been a car accident in a Paris tunnel.

She died with her lover Dodi Al Fayed, son of Mohamed Al Fayed, one of Britain’s richest men, in the first minutes of Sunday, August 31 of 1997.

At 00.20 a.m Princess Diana, Dodi Al Fayed and a bodyguard (Trevor Rees-Jones, again now known by his birth name of Trevor Rees) set off as rear seat passengers in a Mercedes S280 from the luxury Ritz Hotel on Paris’s Place de la Concorde , and owned by Dodi’s father, and headed for the Al Fayed apartment on the corner of Rue Arsène-Houssaye and Avenue des Champs- Élysées.

Paris’s Ritz Hotel, Christmas 2011 (copyright: Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Behind the wheel of the automobile was the hotel’s acting Security Chief, Frenchman Henri Paul; in the front passenger seat was the bodyguard.

Henri Paul took a roundabout way to the apartment building for a reason or reasons only he knew ,and which he will not ever reveal, as on the route was a tunnel and he did not exit from it. Or rather he did, but not alive.

It could be that his two rear seat passengers had asked him to take them for a short drive past the glittering Eiffel Tower, but this they will also never reveal, because one – Dodi – was dead too on exiting from the tunnel, and the other – Princess Diana – was moribund and to die within hours in a Paris hospital.

As for the bodyguard, having lost consciousness in the accident and having been kept under sedation for some time afterwards, he had lost his memory. (It still has not returned.)

Having written many articles about Princess Diana’s death (and planning to write a book), I can not help to think of her and her lover, and his heartbroken father, right now this month of July, because the princess’s love affair with Dodi had already begun in the month before her August death.

To be exact, Princess Diana, 36, and Dodi Al Fayed, 42, had fallen for each other in the ten days from July 11-20 when she and her two sons vacationed with the Al Fayeds at their estate close to St.-Tropez in the South of France, and on the family’s yacht, the Jonikal.

This 10-day stay did not arouse any suspicions in England and elsewhere of a romance between Diana and Dodi. (I will refer to them like this from now on without any disrespect). It seemed too impossible that she, the “people’s princess” could have anything to do with the son of Mohamed Al Fayed, the man her former mother-in-law’s subjects loved to hate. The man who was not good enough for British nationality; the man the English satirical magazine, Private Eye, called, the “phony Pharaoh”.

But Cupid’s arrows had hit their target, and on the weekend of July 25-27, Diana and Dodi were back together. This time it was in Paris, in the Ritz Hotel to be exact. My research showed me that it was on this weekend that the couple consummated their relationship, although he had spent the first night in the family’s Champs-Élysées apartment and she had slept alone in his private suite in the hotel.

The world media did not find out about this weekend, and it was not until Diana and Dodi were back in London and paparazzi snapped her stepping from the Al Fayed apartment building on Park Lane well after midnight one night that they realized that love was in the air. Or as some tabloids hinted, it was not love that was in the air, but just good sex that was being shared. Enjoyed.

Then on July 31, Diana and Dodi were yet again together and on the Al Fayed yacht, Jonikal.

For this Mediterranean cruise the Al Fayed family had remained on terra firma on the St.-Tropez estate and the two lovers were alone on the yacht. By alone I mean, the crew was there of course, and Dodi’s staff (like his valet) and two bodyguards, but the Al Fayed family was allowing the two to be on their own.

Diana and Dodi remained on the yacht until Saturday, August 30, when they flew to Paris in the Al Fayed’s private green-and-beige Gulfstream.

They were going to spend that night at the Al Fayed apartment, but that afternoon they were at the Ritz, in the Imperial Suite where Diana had her hair done and Dodi went to the Repossi jewelry boutique, like the hotel on Place de la Concorde, and bought Diana a ring. There are those who say that it was not an engagement ring, but my research found that it indeed was.

At the end of the day, the couple, rear seat passengers in a bullet-proof Mercedes S600 with blackened windows, drove to the Champs-Élysées apartment to change for dinner; their luggage had been taken to the apartment earlier that afternoon on their arrival in Paris.

They were going to have dinner at the restaurant Chez Benoit in central Paris in the 4th arrondissement (district), but they did not.

Chez Benoit Restaurant in Paris (Copyright Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Unhappy with the pursuing paparazzi, Dodi ordered the chauffeur to take them back to the Ritz and there they dined in the Imperial Suite.

The rest is history: history as French and British law have told it to us after its investigations and inquests.

But is there more to the death of Diana and Dodi?


You can read one of my articles about Diana’s death here.

The accident was in a tunnel underneath this Statue of Liberty flame, so tourists look on it as a memorial to Princess Diana. (Copyright Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

2 Responses to “Princess Diana … her July of sun, sea and love … 15 years ago …”

  1. 2
    Christina Ankeel Says:

    It is nice to remember someone who have inspired millions with her beauty and kind heart.
    It is always a mystery the way Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed died that day. Other says it is an assassination, others just an accident…. be waiting for your book about the Princess, someone should create a memorial page for Princess Diana on Evertalk –

  2. 1
    Charmaine Howard Says:

    Your CommentsYour articles are always so interesting…….looking forward to a book from you about Diane’s death.

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