Skip to main content

Newly revealed conspiracy claim in Princess Diana death sparks talk

By Michael Pearson and Atika Shubert, CNN
August 19, 2013 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
Limousines parked in front of the Ritz on August 31, 1997 -- shortly before Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed left the Paris hotel. The pair died in a high-speed crash after leaving the hotel. Limousines parked in front of the Ritz on August 31, 1997 -- shortly before Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed left the Paris hotel. The pair died in a high-speed crash after leaving the hotel.
HIDE CAPTION
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
The scene of the crash
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ministry of Defence says claim is for civilian police to deal with
  • But police seem to be knocking down claim that commandos were involved in Diana's death
  • Allegation emerged amid collapse of soldier's marriage
  • London police stress they are not re-investigating, merely assessing credibility

London (CNN) -- A newly revealed claim of conspiracy in the death of Princess Diana has royal watchers buzzing once again, nearly 16 years after the woman who would now be a royal grandmother died in a Paris car crash.

But British police seem to be knocking down the claim -- that the British military was involved in the deaths of Diana, her boyfriend and their driver in August 1997.

"This is not a re-investigation," London Metropolitan Police tersely stressed, in a statement that revealed none of what it had been told.

Diana, Princess of Wales listens to children during a visit to the British international school in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 6, 1989. Diana, Princess of Wales listens to children during a visit to the British international school in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 6, 1989.
Life of Princess Diana
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
>
>>
Photos: Life of Princess Diana Photos: Life of Princess Diana
New info on Diana's death surfaces
Police: Diana death probe not re-opened
Author: Conspiracy 'not feasible'
New Princess Diana investigation

The latest claim appears to have been sent first to military authorities and then to London police by the parents-in-law of a British special forces sniper after his marriage had fallen apart, according to an article on the website of the Sunday People newspaper. It did not offer a source for its reporting.

Sunday People said it had seen a seven-page handwritten letter by the in-laws alleging that the soldier, whom the newspaper did not name, had boasted to his wife that the elite British Special Air Service commando unit was behind the deaths.

The UK Ministry of Defence told CNN only that "this is for Metropolitan Police to investigate."

Military authorities have been aware of the claim since the 2011 court-martial of the soldier's former roommate on weapons charges, Sunday People reported. The unnamed soldier mentioned in the letter was a witness in that case, according to the newspaper.

Neither the Sunday People piece nor an earlier version carried by Press Association offered details of the claimed involvement by soldiers in the deaths.

Diana, 36, and Dodi Fayed, her 42-year-old boyfriend, died when the Mercedes-Benz they were traveling in hit a pillar in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris in August 1997.

They were being followed at the time by the paparazzi after leaving the Ritz Hotel. Their driver, Henri Paul, was also killed. Investigators concluded that Paul was drunk and driving at high speed. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the sole survivor.

Dress Princess Diana wore to dance with Travolta auctioned

The princess left behind her two children, Prince William, whose wife recently gave birth to Diana's first grandchild, and Prince Harry. Some 2.5 billion people around the world watched Diana's funeral.

A British coroner's inquest in 2007 concluded that the deaths were the result of "grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles and of the Mercedes." The inquest found no evidence of murder. A London police spokesman said no new information had been examined since this inquest.

Yet the deaths have always been paired with conspiracy theories accusing British and French intelligence services and members of British royalty of orchestrating Diana's death.

The Daily Mirror reported in 2003 that the Princess of Wales wrote to her former butler Paul Burrell 10 months before she died, saying her life was at its "most dangerous" phase and warning of a plot to tamper with the brakes of her car.

After their deaths, Mohamed al Fayed, Dodi's father, said the couple were planning to announce their engagement and publicly accused Prince Philip, Diana's former father-in-law, of orchestrating the couple's murders. He testified at the 2007 inquest.

A spokesman for al Fayed said Sunday he had no comment at this time but trusts the police will do a thorough investigation.

Diana remains wildly popular in death, and news of the new claim sparked an immediate surge in discussion of her death on news sites and social media.

But many seemed skeptical.

"Is it just me or does it (seem) like a Princess Diana conspiracy hits around this time of year, every year?," Twitter user DMR09 posted.

The rumors come to light weeks before the 16th anniversary of Diana's death, and a little more than a month before the British premier of "Diana," a new movie about the former princess's life.

It's unclear whether these allegations will make it any further than previous claims have. London police seem unlikely to make any big announcements, based on the closing line of their statement.

"Not Prepared to Discuss Further," Scotland Yard said in the statement.

Rare photo of teenage Diana sold for $18,369

Michael Pearson wrote and reported from Atlanta; Atika Shubert reported from London; CNN's Bharati Naik also contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT)
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT