What Really Happened the Night Princess Diana Died? The Unanswered Questions We Still Have About Her Death

Princess Diana

Princess Diana | Pierre Verdy/ AFP/ Getty Images

More than two decades after she died, the world remains fascinated with Princess Diana and still has many questions about the circumstances surrounding her death on that fateful night.

There have been several different conspiracies theories about the car crash that killed the princess, her companion Dodi Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul. There’s even some who believe her death was no accident.

Here’s what happened on Aug. 31, 1997.

A year after her high-profile divorce from Prince Charles, Diana was dating Fayed and the two were in Paris dining in the Imperial Suite at the Ritz Hotel. Around 11:30 p.m. the pair left the Ritz to head to Fayed’s apartment. They exited the rear of the hotel 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. They ended up leaving in a Mercedes S-280 limousine, which Paul was operating at a high rate of speed through the streets of Paris eventually crashing into a pillar in a tunnel under the Alma bridge. They were less than two miles from the hotel.

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 died several hours later.

She was laid to rest five days later in London.

(L to R) The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles walk outside Westminster Abbey during the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales.

Princess Diana’s funeral | Jeff J. Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images

French and British authorities concluded that Paul was drunk and on anti-depressants when he lost control of the Mercedes in the tunnel as he was trying to shake off the photographers. An inquest jury later ruled that both Paul and the paparazzi chasing them were responsible for the crash due to “gross negligence.”

But not everyone is so convinced and believes there is more to the story.

Were they murdered?

Author Martyn Gregory has insisted that Fayed was going to propose to Diana the night of the crash and that he had been shopping for a ring at Repossi Jewelers. A ring bearing the inscription “Dis-moi Oui” (Tell me Yes) was recovered in Dodi’s flat after their deaths.

Fayed’s father, Mohammed Fayed, stated that not only were they going to be married but that the princess told him she was pregnant with his son’s child. He claimed that the British royal family plotted and had her killed so that she would not marry and have a baby with an Egyptian Muslim.

It has never been confirmed if Diana was pregnant. She was actually embalmed before an autopsy could be performed and therefore her blood could not be tested. However, tests were said to be done on her blood in the Mercedes and no traces of the HCG hormone that indicates pregnancy were found.

The mysterious white Fiat Uno

There is reportedly evidence that a white Fiat Uno was also involved in the crash with the Mercedes carrying the princess and the others that evening. The Fiat though fled the scene and the driver of that vehicle has never been found.

Some conspiracy theorists think that the driver was a French paparazzo named James Andanson who was also thought to be an MI6 informant. Andanson had always maintained that he had not been driving in the tunnel the night of the accident and thus could not have been involved. He was found dead in his car three years later.

What about the ‘flash before the crash’

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

However, Levistre’s wife, who was sitting next to him in the car, said that no such flash had taken place.