How Did Princess Diana Spend Her Last Birthday?

It’s been more than two decades since Princess Diana died following a car crash in Paris. All these years later many are still fascinated by the People’s Princess and want to learn as much as they can about her life.

Diana was born on July 1, 1961, and on July 1, 1997, she celebrated what would be her last birthday. This is how the Princess of Wales spent her 36th birthday and the unanswered questions we still have about her untimely death.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

How the princess spent her final birthday?

One day before she turned 36, Diana appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair and revealed in an interview that she was building a new life for herself and her sons following her divorce from Prince Charles.

According to Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, the next day the princess received 90 bouquets of flowers for her birthday and a phone call in the morning from her son, Prince Harry, who along with his classmates sang her “Happy Birthday.”

That evening she attended the 100th-anniversary celebration of the Tate Gallery in London where she was the guest of honor. At the affair, Diana was given even more flowers as well as cards and balloons.

What happened the night of the crash?

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images

At the time of her death, Princess Diana was dating Dodi Fayed, the son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. The two dined in the Imperial Suite at the Ritz Hotel in Paris on Aug. 30, 1997. Just before midnight, the pair left the Ritz to head to Fayed’s apartment. They exited the rear of the hotel in an attempt to escape the paparazzi but to no avail.

Some reports have said the vehicle they were originally supposed to travel in would not start while others claim that they changed cars at the last minute to throw off the paps. The couple ended up leaving in a Mercedes S-280 limousine driven by Henri Paul, the head of security for the Ritz.

Paul, who had been off duty that night, was operating the limousine at a high rate of speed through the streets of Paris and eventually crashed into a pillar in a tunnel under the Alma bridge.

Paul and Fayed were killed instantly but Diana was still alive and suffering from multiple injuries including a severed pulmonary vein. She was transported to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital where she was pronounced dead several hours later on Aug. 31, 1997, just 61 days after she turned 36.

Unanswered questions we still have

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Following their deaths, conspiracy theories about the fatal car accident circulated and to this day there are still many unanswered questions.

One theory is that the British royal family plotted and had her killed so that she would not marry an Egyptian Muslim. Fayed did purchase an engagement ring hours before the crash, which authorities later found in his flat, but because they never made it to the apartment he didn’t get the chance to propose to the princess.

There’s also the “flash before the crash” theory. That stems from the account of eyewitness François Levistre. He had been driving in the tunnel in front of the Mercedes limo and claims to have seen a bright light flash in his rearview mirror when the crash occurred.

And one of the biggest questions is about the mysterious Fiat. There is reportedly evidence that a white Fiat Uno was also involved in the crash. The Fiat though fled the scene that night and the driver of that vehicle has never been found.

Read more: Why Princess Diana Didn’t Want To Divorce Prince Charles Despite His Infidelity and Who Changed Her Mind