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Princess Diana's body comes home

Latest developments: 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 her death.

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 injured.

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.

Attempts at heart massage failed

"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.

Photographers who trailed car taken into custody

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.

Aerial of mangled crash

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.

Mourners gather at Kensington Palace

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 palace gate.

Kensington Palace

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
icon 264 K/24 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Offering condolences via Web

The royal family's Web site,, 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 family reads.


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