Princess Diana's body comes home
August 31, 1997
Web posted at: 10:51 p.m. EDT (0251 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) --
Prince Charles brought the body of the
beautiful woman he once took as his princess bride back to
London Sunday night, as the nation and the world mourned
The body of Diana, Princess of Wales, was taken to a private mortuary and then to the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace, where both Charles and
Diana had offices before their divorce. Funeral plans are
expected to be announced Monday.
Earlier in the evening, Diana's coffin -- draped with the
official flag of the British royal family -- arrived at
Northolt Royal Air Force base near London about 16 hours
after the princess died from injuries suffered in a violent
car crash in Paris.
Charles and Diana's two sisters looked on at Northolt as the
coffin was placed into a hearse by an honor guard.
Diana's new companion, Dodi Fayed, and the chauffeur of their
car were also killed in the accident in a Paris tunnel early
Sunday morning. A bodyguard in the car was seriously
They were reportedly being pursued by photographers -- as
Diana was throughout her public life. Her brother, Charles
Spencer, said earlier in the day: "I always believed the
press would kill her in the end."
Charles went to Paris with Diana's older sisters -- Lady Jane
Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale -- to retrieve Diana's
body from the Salpetriere Hospital, where doctors had
desperately tried to save her.
At the hospital, the prince and French President Jacques
Chirac thanked doctors for their efforts. A British Embassy
spokesman said that before Diana's body was taken away, her
sisters spent a few moments alone with their sibling.
Physicians said the 36-year-old princess died from internal
bleeding stemming from major chest, lung and head injuries
she suffered in the accident.
"Diana's body arrived in a condition of serious hemorrhage
and shock. Shortly thereafter, she went into cardiac arrest,"
said the hospital's Dr. Bruno Riou.
"An urgent surgery showed a severe wound to the left
pulmonary vein. Despite the closure of this wound and the
two-hour external and internal cardiac massage, no official
respiratory circulation could be established, and she died at
4 a.m. Paris time," he said.
Fayed's body was flown to London, where he was buried Sunday.
The bodyguard, identified as Trevor Rees-Jones, suffered a
head contusion, a lung injury and facial injuries. He was in
intensive care in the same hospital where Diana died.
His condition was described as grave but not life-threatening. He could play a crucial role in helping police find out exactly how the car crashed.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles said in statements
early Sunday that they were "deeply shocked and distressed by
this terrible news."
The Prince of Wales woke his and Diana's children, Princes
William, 15, and Harry, 12, and informed them of their
mother's death. The boys had been spending the summer at the royal retreat at Balmoral Castle, Scotland.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "I feel like everyone
else in this country: utterly devastated. ... She was a
wonderful, warm human being."
Across the nation, for millions of Britons, the mourning began for the queen they never had.
In St. Paul's Cathedral, where Diana was married 16 years
ago, the vast nave was filled for a special evening service,
attended mostly by people in casual weekend dress. Flags flew
at half-staff across the kingdom. All soccer games -- the
national sport -- were canceled. The airwaves were filled
with "God Save the Queen," the national anthem.
The Mercedes crashed in a tunnel at the Pont de l'Alma bridge
along the Seine River. Immediately afterward, police detained
seven photographers who reportedly were pursuing the car for photos.
On Sunday afternoon, police announced a further step: The
photographers had been placed in formal custody, and the
probe would be handled by a special police unit usually
assigned to high-priority terrorism cases.
Bernard Dartevelle, a lawyer for Dodi Fayed's father, Mohamed
Al Fayed, said Sunday the family may file a civil lawsuit
when the results of an investigation are complete.
The car was traveling at 80 to 85 mph (128 to 136 kph)
before it slammed into a concrete abutment in the narrow
tunnel, careened into a wall and was crushed like an
accordion, police said. According to witnesses, paparazzi --
the commercial photographers who constantly followed Diana --
were pursuing the car on motorcycles.
Police seized two motorcycles and a motor scooter
believed used in the chase. France Info radio said at least
some of the photographers took pictures before help arrived
-- and that one of the photographers was beaten at the scene
by horrified witnesses.
"Serious questions will need to be asked as to whether the
aggressive intrusion into her privacy has contributed to this
tragedy," said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
In London, people gathered outside Diana's Kensington
Palace residence before dawn. Some sat with their heads in
their hands and wept. Flowers from mourners adorned the
One man lit two candles at Kensington Palace.
"I just feel disbelief more than shock," said student Fiona
von Schank, 24, who brought two roses. "It's amazing that
this woman who finally seemed to have just about found some
happiness has now died so tragically."
Diana and Fayed, the 42-year-old son of the billionaire
Egyptian owner of London's prestigious Harrods department
store, had arrived in Paris on Saturday afternoon on a
private visit. They had dined at the Ritz and were headed to
a villa owned by Fayed in a posh district in western Paris,
France Info reported.
|Fayed family spokesperson Michael Cole relates Dodi's feelings for Diana
264 K/24 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The royal family's Web site, www.royal.gov.uk, invited users
to offer condolences. The site opens with a color photograph
of Diana smiling and dressed elegantly with a bouquet of
wildflowers. The caption is simple: "Diana, Princess of Wales
1 July 1961 - 31 August 1997."
On a special link, users can sign in on the visitor's book
and express their sympathy.
"Thank you for your kind message of condolence for the sad
loss of Diana, Princess of Wales," a message from the royal