Published On: Wed, Aug 30th, 2017

Princess Diana: The four questions still haunting Paul Burrell 20 years after crash death


Paul Burrell’s questions over Princess Diana deathGETTY

Princess Diana and her lover Dodi Al-Fayad had dined at the Ritz in Paris that night

The royal’s former butler, who worked for the princess from 1987 up until her death, returned to the place where Princess Diana died for the first time. 

Despite travelling to Paris on the fateful night 20 years ago to visit her body, he never went to the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. 

Almost two decades to the day she died, on August 31, 1997, Mr Burrell laid flowers at the tunnel. 

Now 59, he revealed he was still haunted by what happened that night, and several questions had dogged him over the years. 

Princess Diana and her lover Dodi Al-Fayad had dined at the Ritz in Paris, owned by Dodi’s father Mohamad al-Fayad. 

They left the hotel at 12.20am to make the two-mile trip across town to Dodi’s apartment near the Champs-Elysées. 

But Mr Burrell reveals his confusion over this decision, querying why the pair did not stay at Dodi’s suite in the Ritz. 

He said: “It was strange to me the princess would want to cross Paris at midnight. 

 Paul Burrell’s questions over Princess Diana deathGETTY

Mr Burrell says he often has nightmares of Diana screaming “slow down”


She always wore a seatbelt

Paul Burrell


“Knowing her, she’d rather be tucked up in bed early. 

“If you look at footage of her going down in the lift in the Ritz, that is not a woman who wanted to go out. 

“Why didn’t she stick to her guns, like she usually did, and say ‘we’re staying here tonight’.”

The Mercedes the princess travelled in along with Dodi, sole survivor her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones and head of security at the Ritz, Henri Paul, was said to be pursued by paparazzi which caused Mr Paul to speed along the tunnel, hitting 120mph. 

Mr Burrell says he often has nightmares of Diana screaming “slow down” before the car smashed into the 13th pillar in the tunnel.

And he questioned why safety-conscious Diana was not wearing a seatbelt. 

Reports indicate nobody in the car was wearing the safety device, contributing to their horrific injuries. 

Her ex-butler said: “She always wore a seatbelt… so why wasn’t she that night? 

Paul Burrell’s questions over Princess Diana deathGETTY

The royal’s former butler worked for the princess from 1987 up until her death

“She wasn’t a fast driver and she would have been scared of going so fast.”

Toxicology reports indicate Mr Paul was three times the drink-drive limit, another issue which haunts Mr Burrell. 

He says he cannot fathom why bodyguard Mr Rees-Jones allowed her into a car with a drunk chauffeur. 

Mr Burrell said: “Why would Trevor let a drunk man drive? Let alone Diana and Dodi?

“That’s rubbish, I think there was a mixing up of toxicology results.”

His last problem with what happened that night is the time it took to get the severely injured princess to hospital. 

The car crashed around 1.25am, but she did not arrive at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital, some four miles away from the crash site, until later that morning. 

Mr Burrell criticised travelling to that hospital, with the ambulance arriving some 40 minutes after it left the tunnel. 

Paul Burrell’s questions over Princess Diana deathGETTY

He questioned why safety-conscious Diana was not wearing a seatbelt

He said: “Who made the decision to go to that hospital?”

Surgeons tried to repair a ripped blood vessel near her heart, which was causing massive internal bleeding. 

After attempting to electrically shock her heart into restarting, she was pronounced dead at 4am. 

Anaesthetist Daniel Eyraud said in a statement read to hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London: “We decided by common consent to stop heart massage as it was completely impossible to restore cardiac activity after such a long period of arrest.

“From that point, the Princess was pronounced dead. I personally believe we did everything possible to save the Princess with the appropriate means.”


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