Why Diana died

spiked editor Mick Hume in The Times (London), on the inquest into the death of Princess Di.

Mick Hume

Mick Hume

Topics Politics

Did al-Qaeda kill Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed, her lover, to stop them polluting the Muslim world with Western decadence? (Nobody had heard of the terror group in 1997 – suspicious, isn’t it?) Or were they killed by traditional British monarchists (Lord Lucan, perhaps?) to stop them polluting our aristocratic stock with Islamic genes?

Could the fatal Paris car crash have been staged by a secret Committee to Re-Elect Tony in 2001 (CRETIN), to provide an unwitting Mr Blair with his resounding soundbite about ‘the People’s Princess’? Or by some music industry Svengali looking to relaunch Elton John as the nation’s new Vera Lynn? Or was it Martians upset that the Princess’s New Age practices were giving ‘other-worldly lifestyles’ a bad name?

Any sensible reader would, of course, dismiss all the above as crackpot nonsense. Yet now that these questions have been raised here, we might expect them to be aired at the inquest into Diana’s death, finally due to open this week. After all, The Sunday Times reports, the Royal Coroner wants to examine ‘every theory about the death of Diana’ in an inquest he expects to run until 2005. It’s a happy new year to every sad freak with an implausible story about how and why Diana died.

The questions that Michael Burgess will examine apparently include whether the car in which Diana and Dodi crashed had been tampered with or forced off the road, and whether Henri Paul, the driver, was ‘really’ drunk. Mr Burgess has reportedly already asked to see a recently published letter, written months before her death, in which Diana accused somebody of ‘planning an accident in my car’ involving ‘brake failure and serious head injury’.

Some of us might think that this sort of question has already been asked far too often, and satisfactorily answered, not least in the 6,000-page French police report. The letter might provide fresh confirmation that the Princess was rather paranoid, but that is not evidence that everybody really was out to get her. All the known facts shout that her death was an accident. For the ‘real’ reason why Diana and Dodi died in that Paris tunnel, we need look no deeper than that (despite her expressed belief that somebody was plotting a crash), they didn’t bother with seatbelts.

It is bad enough that lunatic conspiracy theories about Diana’s death still abound on the internet. Worse, they are now to be given serious credence by as un-loony a figure as the Royal Coroner, turning a straightforward inquest into a Hutton inquiry-style circus. This in turn will provide newspapers that should know better with more excuses to reprint all the old nonsense under such headlines as ‘The Questions That Won’t Go Away’. Not if you keep regurgitating them, they won’t.

Some will point out that conspiracy theories have always existed. Yet this carry-on shows how times have changed, and how far things have now gone. Over the quartercentury since he died, plenty of cranks have claimed that Elvis Presley was murdered, or that he is in fact alive. But nobody thought it worth setting up a legal inquiry to test the validity of countless Elvis ‘sightings’. Now, however, as the line between rumour and fact appears increasingly porous, even British officialdom is taking the conspiracy-mongers seriously. It is as if the American Government had launched an inquiry to see if the rumours were true and Nasa really did fake the Moon landings. The public mistrust of authority now seems to be infecting the authorities themselves.

The Diana inquest threatens to be a grim, drawn-out ritual serving nobody. The coroner might think that airing these rumours will dispose of them. But no matter what the result of his inquiry, many will still think that she was murdered. So deep is the mistrust of authority today, it is widely assumed that the official explanation for the death of Diana, or of David Kelly, cannot be the truth. And the more official denials are issued, the more convinced cynics become that something is amiss.

Ours is an anxious age when many from the top downward seem to find it difficult to cope with uncertainty and risk, or to accept that accidents will happen. When a plane full of French holidaymakers crashed to their deaths at the weekend, and groundless speculation about possible terrorist attacks began, Egyptian officials sought to calm the rumours by reminding us that sometimes, even in the 21st century, aircraft can crash. So can a luxury Mercedes car, especially when driven at more than 100mph through a tunnel at night, by a driver who has been drinking. That is no reason to drive a runaway bandwagon of morbid emotionalism through common sense and the coroners’ courts.

This article is republished from The Times (London)

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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