Inside Princess Diana’s Last Night With Dodi Al-Fayed

More than 20 years after her tragic death, royal fans are still obsessed with Princess Diana. The People’s Princess will forever remain in the hearts and minds of fans all over the world. And next summer, Prince William and Prince Harry will honor their late mother when they unveil a special statue at Kensington Palace. When Diana died, she was in a relationship with Egyptian businessman Dodi Al-Fayed. The couple had just gone public with their romance that summer and they died together on August 31, 1997, in Paris’ Pont de l’Alma tunnel.

Princess Diana
Diana, Princess of Wales | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Princess Diana met Dodi Al-Fayed while on holiday with her sons

According to The Mirror, Diana met Dodi while on holiday with William and Harry at a villa in southern France. Dodi’s billionaire father, Mohammed Al-Fayed owned the villa. And Dodi was a successful movie producer of films like Chariots of Fire and Hook.

Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles became final in 1996. She spent the next year rebuilding her profile as a humanitarian ambassador. She also did her best to move on from royal life and her bad marriage.

Diana traveled the world during the summer of 1997. She visited both Bosnia and Angola to highlight the plight of citizens in those countries. She also enjoyed vacations with Dodi, and cameras caught the couple on his yacht in the Mediterranean multiple times.

At the end of August 1997, William and Harry traveled to Scotland to join Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral for the royal family’s annual holiday. But Diana decided to rejoin Dodi, and on August 30 they boarded a plane to Paris. Sadly, that was the last flight Princess Diana would take.

After the couple landed, the head of security of the Ritz hotel, Henri Paul, greeted them. Dodi’s father owned the five-star Ritz in Paris, and the paparazzi was more than ready for Dodi and Diana’s arrival.

Diana’s last meal was in her Paris hotel room

Diana and Dodi arrived at the Ritz Paris around 4:30 pm local time. They entered through the back door and checked into the Imperial Suite. Numerous reports have claimed over the years that Dodi decided to propose to Diana that night. However, Diana told a friend that she expected the ring would be “going firmly on my right hand,” according to a 2013 Vanity Fair article.

Dodi left Diana to relax at the hotel while he and his bodyguards went to Repossi jewelers. Later that evening, they delivered two rings to Diana and Dodi’s suite, according to USA Today.

Around 7:00, the couple leaves the Ritz through the rear exit and their driver takes them to Dodi’s residence near the Arc de Triomphe. Nearly three hours later, Diana and Dodi returned to the Ritz, but this time through the front door.

The couple had dinner reservations at Benoit Paris, but they had to cancel because of the paparazzi. They decided to eat dinner at the restaurant inside the Ritz, L’Espadon. However, Dodi suspects that members of the paparazzi are posing as restaurant patrons. He asks the wait staff to deliver their food to their suite.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed tried to avoid the paparazzi

In Christopher Andersen’s book The Day Diana Died, he claims that Diana’s final meal was Dover sole, vegetable tempura, and a mushroom and asparagus omelet. The couple was back in their room by 10:00, and that’s where they stayed for another two hours.

By 12:20 a.m, reports claim that Diana and Dodi left the hotel through the rear entrance with bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. They wanted to return to his apartment, and they left through the back to evade photographers.

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Dodi and Diana got into the backseat of a black Mercedes S280, with Henri Paul driving. Andersen claims that Paul drank a Scotch and a beer. Autopsy reports would eventually reveal that Paul’s blood-alcohol level was three times France’s legal limit. He also had Prozac and Tiapridal on his system.

The Princess of Wales did not die at the crash site

At approximately 12:23 am, the speeding car was trying to outrun the paparazzi when it collided with a concrete pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Fayed and Paul died on scene, and first responders tried to stabilize Diana on site.

An ambulance rushed Princess Diana to a nearby hospital, but she suffered cardiac arrest on the way. When she arrived at Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital, Diana underwent surgery. However, doctors pronounced Princess Diana dead at 4:00 a.m. The only person with his seatbelt on, Rees-Jones, was the only person to survive the crash.

“Diana’s body arrived in a condition of serious hemorrhage and shock,” hospital anesthesiologist Dr. Bruno Riou told the media an hour later. “An urgent surgery showed a severe wound to the left pulmonary vein. Despite the closure of this wound and the two-hour external and internal cardiac massage, no official respiratory circulation could be established.”