Skip to main content
CNN International EditionWorld
The Web     
Powered by
CNN Access

Diana and the conspiracy theory

Paris death crash
Conspiracy theory about Diana's crash will always exist says Arbiter.

Story Tools

Was Princess Diana's death an accident?
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.

LONDON. England (CNN) -- Princess Diana wrote warning her butler Paul Burrell of a plot to tamper with the brakes of her car 10 months before she died in Paris, according to Britain's Daily Mirror.

CNN's Walter Rodgers talked to former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter about the "death plot" letter and what the princess really thought about the royal family.

RODGERS: Will there always be a conspiracy theory about Diana's death?

ARBITER: I think the conspiracy theory will always exist as long as there are people talking about what happened in Paris that fateful night in 1997. The fact that this letter has now emerged puts a question mark. At the end of the day she was something of a loner, where most people would talk about problems, most people say "I hope I don't get knocked off by a bus or fall off a pavement and break a leg or die in a plane crash," she tended to put pen to paper.

She was a vociferous writer and therefore being rather lonely she would tend to put pen to paper rather than talk about it to other people. And she didn't have a lot of people to talk about it to.

RODGERS: Was she paranoid?

ARBITER: A number of people have suggested she was paranoid. I think if you are lonely you tend to think the worst. But paranoid she wasn't. She was just a lonely lady. She swept up people. She gathered up a lot of acquaintances. But she didn't have many friends. The number of friends you could probably count on one hand and not too many fingers for that either.

RODGERS: Is the Diana letter authentic?

ARBITER: If you look at the letter as published in a London tabloid today, it is definitely her writing, so I think quite definitely the letter is genuine.

Mirror's story
The 'death plot' letter was published in Monday's Daily Mirror tabloid.

RODGERS: What possessed her to write it?

ARBITER: I think you write all sorts of things when you're on your own. I really don't know, nobody will be able to see into her mind. But it is interesting how the letter has come up six years after the accident, several years after the French concluded an exhaustive inquiry, and you have to ask yourself why is the letter produced now and not then? The answer is, there's a book being published and it's good fodder.

RODGERS: So the remarks are genuine?

ARBITER:The letter's genuine, and I'm not suggesting for a moment that anyone's making anything up, but he is writing a book and the book is about to be published and today one needs as much publicity as possible to sell a book.

RODGERS: Would she have believed that?

ARBITER: She might have had the odd thought, but there was a suggestion today that it was something being conceived to get her out of the way so that the Prince of Wales could marry Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles. That's absolute nonsense because she was divorced. Therefore she was free and he was free, and him being free he could marry who he likes when he likes and how he likes.

RODGERS: Wasn't she an obstacle perceived to be at war with the monarchy?

ARBITER: She was a great believer in the monarchy. She worked hard for the monarchy the 15 years she was doing the job. She wasn't at war with the monarchy, she might have been at odds with certain individual members of the royal family.

Nothing on earth says you have to like every member of the royal family. She had tremendous respect for the queen, she liked the queen. She had an on-off relationship with the Duke of Edinburgh. She had a relationship with her husband that went pear shaped-as we say in the UK -- it went sour. She didn't have a perfect relationship with everybody, but then again nobody does have a perfect relationship with everybody.

RODGERS: She was a threat to them in a sense...

ARBITER: She co-opted publicity, attention and sympathy, but she was not at war with the monarchy. She was a great believer in the monarchal system in the United Kingdom. And therefore she worked hard for it. She strived hard for it. And she did everything that was expected of her during her 15 years that she was on royal parade.

But I have to say again, she was at odds with certain individual members of the family and that is perfectly normal you can't like everybody all of the time. But against the monarchy, at war with the monarchy no, she was a great believer in that she believed that one day her son, her eldest son William would be king. And one day he will be king.

I don't believe in conspiracies. She was a free agent to go about as she pleased. Yes, there were certain restrictions in terms of her royal duties, she couldn't just go off to a foreign country. She had to seek permission from the government in order to so because that's the way being a member of the royal family works. I just don't believe that conspiracies are the name of the game in terms of this. What happened in France was an unfortunate accident. And that's all it is.

RODGERS: Burrell quoted the queen as talking about "powers at work about which we have no knowledge."

ARBITER: I don't believe it at all. It is an alleged quote. An alleged statement. And it's not the kind of thing, the way that the queen speaks.

It is something that was published on the basis that the royal family would never answer back and would come out and say "I did not say that." Because they come out and say "I did not say that" so the media will then say "okay, what did you say." You give the story legs -- they're not in the business of giving story legs. So we have to look at it at what it is -- an alleged quote.

There will be an inquest. It was announced a several weeks ago that there will be an inquest. And we have to wait for the coroner to announce as and when that inquest would be. There couldn't be an inquest until the French had finished their inquiries. The French have finished their inquiries, they have published their inquiries, the results of their inquiries, and there will be an inquest. The coroner has announced that. We have to wait and see when that's going to be.

The letter that was published? I think it's basic loneliness. We all think at some stage or another I hope I don't die in a car crash, I hope I don't die in a plane crash. We all travel a lot and it is conceivable that we could die in a car crash.

RODGERS: She went further than that...

ARBITER: Implicit in there was a suggestion that there might be brake failure, brakes fail -- they're mechanical. I think there was an element of loneliness and just putting her thoughts, at the time, we don't know how she was thinking, at the time that she wrote that. And we'll never know. And it's just one of those unfortunate letters that she did write that has now become public.

The inquest is entirely up to the coroner. And if the coroner feels that he wants to call members of the royal family, he will do just that. He is required by law to hold an inquest and to call whomever he wishes to call. And if he wishes to call members of the royal family he will do so.

Hollywood couldn't have written this could they? And yes it does have all the hallmarks of a classic murder mystery, but I go back to what I've said time and time again. There is no question of murder. There is no question of conspiracy. It just didn't happen. It was an accident. It shouldn't have happened, but it did.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
EU 'crisis' after summit failure

On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.