Princess Diana Shouldn’t Have Been in Paris On the Night She Died

Thinking back on Princess Diana’s shocking death is difficult even now more than two decades later. It’s not just that her death was tragic and senseless — though it was both of those things for certain. One of the most frustrating things about that fateful night in August 1997 is that everything that happened was so avoidable.

And it goes beyond just the paparazzi chasing her and the driver of the car reaching a reckless speed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. On the night of Princess Diana’s death, every detail combined to create a perfect storm that ended with the world losing a beloved soul. The worst part of it all? Princess Diana shouldn’t have even been in Paris in the first place.

Princess Diana
Prince Diana | Neil Munns – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Diana was lonely and adrift

Though she had recently begun dating Egyptian billionaire heir Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana was a bit lonely and depressed in 1997, just one year after her divorce to Prince Charles was finalized. In a June interview with journalist Tina Brown, the Princess of Wales admitted that she doubted she’d ever marry again.

“Who would take me on?” Princess Diana said when asked that question. “I have so much baggage. Anyone who takes me out to dinner has to accept the fact that their business will be raked over in the papers. Photographers will go through their dustbins. I think I am safer alone.” 

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Princess Diana should never have been in Paris in August

Even though she was no longer an official part of the royal family, Princess Diana was still a socialite, a famous person who was perhaps even more pursued after her divorce than she was before it. That’s what makes it so perplexing that she was hanging out in Paris in late August.

As Brown recounts, “When the news came of her death, my first thoughts were of place and time—of the wrongness of any royal princess, even a divorced one, contriving to be in that place at that time. In late summer, the Paris of the rich and the titled simply closes down. The city’s grandees retreat north to cool woodlands or south to sunny coasts.”

Princess Diana
Diana in St. Tropez | Michel Dufour/WireImage

She may have been trying to avoid her biggest critics

It all makes sense that Princess Diana might avoid the places where former friends were hanging out, however. Maybe she intentionally chose Paris in August as the last place in the world where people would think to look for her.

“The fact that she was there [in Paris] at all was discordant, a poignant symbol of a season of panic and flight,” Brown concluded.

Of course, Diana couldn’t have known that her decision would ultimately end her life. Or that the paparazzi would hunt her down even in a place she shouldn’t be in.

Diana | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

We can speculate forever on how each decision changed the course of history. But now that it’s over, the only thing we can do is continue to celebrate Princess Diana’s legacy forever.