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Coroner: Diana was not pregnant

Diana's friends and family dismiss conspiracy theories about her death.
Diana's friends and family dismiss conspiracy theories about her death.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Princess Diana was not pregnant when she died, a former royal coroner says, apparently ruling out one of the rumors which has swirled around her death in a car crash six years ago.

John Burton was the former coroner of the Queen's Household, and was present at the autopsies of Diana, and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, who died when their chauffeur-driven car crashed in an underpass in Paris on August 31, 1997.

According to the account in The Times newspaper, which has not been independently confirmed by CNN, Dr. Burton said: "She wasn't pregnant. I have seen into her womb."

The coroner's rules require that the post-mortem examination report includes the result of an internal examination of the deceased's "generative organs."

One conspiracy theory has suggested that embalming fluid used in Paris would distort blood tests and make it impossible to tell if she was pregnant.

"You wouldn't need to do any tests if you looked at the womb," Dr. Burton told The Times.

Speculation that the Princess was pregnant by her boyfriend has been at the heart of the many conspiracy theories about their deaths.

That speculation was recently revived when another British newspaper recently published a story quoting a senior French police source as saying she had indeed been pregnant.

However, Dr. Burton says the French did not carry out a post-mortem examination on the body of the princess.

Burton spoke on the same day that the present royal coroner, Michael Burgess, opened formal inquests into the deaths of Diana, 36, and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, 42.

A French judge laid responsibility for the crash on the driver, Henri Paul, who was found to have been intoxicated and driving at high speed. He was also killed.

Burgess announced Tuesday that he had asked police to look into theories that the princess was the victim of a conspiracy, variously attributed to the royal family and intelligence agencies.

"I'm aware that there is speculation that these deaths were not the result of a sad but relatively straightforward road traffic accident in Paris," Burgess said.

"I have asked the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (Sir John Stevens) to make inquiries. The results of these inquiries will help me to decide whether such matters will fall within the scope of the investigation carried out at the inquests," he said.

Fayed's father, Mohammed Al Fayed, has supported claims that Diana may have been pregnant when she died. He has also accused Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, of masterminding a conspiracy.

The Daily Mirror newspaper on Tuesday published a letter apparently written by Diana to her butler, in which she claimed that her ex-husband, Prince Charles, was plotting to kill her in an car accident.

The Daily Mirror itself described the idea as "utterly preposterous to many people" and said there was no evidence to support the claim.

Burgess adjourned both inquests at least until early next year, to give him time to collect evidence, read the French police reports and to give British police time to complete their investigations.

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