Just feel that she has stolen their job and is better at the thing that they're supposed to be best at, and she's not even from here.
Welcomes hearing about where every story has to come to an end.
Oh, you're already putting us in like an illegal mood for this one guy.
I've been saying that word elegiac in my head, and I have genuinely no idea which one of us is right.
Well, we know that I am perfect at pronouncing things. That's true. I think history tells us it's probably. Yeah, I am. Michael Hobbs. I'm a reporter for Huffington Post.
I'm Sarah Marshall. I'm working on a book about the satanic panic.
And if you want to support the show and hear cute bonus episodes, you can go to on dotcom.
You're wrong about or perhaps you are cute enough already. Yes. You don't need to do any of those things. And I support that also.
And today we are denouncing our Princess Diana series. Yeah, I'm bummed.
I know. I'm kind of bummed, too. We've been doing this for a while. I know. And it's also adorable that we thought it was going to be frivolous at first.
I didn't think that you thought that.
I know I meant me, but I said weeks. I wanted to make you part of my little conspiracy.
But it's not true. Thank you.
This is a story about a family where people push old ladies down the stairs, which is pretty universal.
You know what I think? I think it's frivolous and not frivolous at the same time. And I think that's one of the reasons why people are engaging with it, especially now. Like it's a complicated, difficult time. It's nice to consume a story where people are behaving in ways that are recognizably human and yet are wearing beautiful, expensive clothes while they do so. So I think I just explain soap operas as a phenomenon. Yes, that's nice. And Greek myths.
I also think that all of us are frivolous and non frivolous. I think all of us have frivolous, quote unquote, frivolous interests and quote unquote, serious interests. Yes, the division of stories into frivolous and important is very silly.
All of us right now are Amy living through the civil war, wondering if she will be cast before she dies. Oh, yeah. One of the things that perhaps we are prone to imagine about ourselves is that an important historic times we would like be unhindered by our day to day human woes and foibles. And I think this is a time for Americans to certainly realize that we haven't yet. But like, that's not true. Yeah. In this fascist, apocalyptic epidemic, we're still defined by being lonely and horny and wanting macaroni the baked beans on toast.
But I mean, all of this goes back to something I've actually been thinking about a lot this week. I remember reading about a French trilogy of films years ago.
Each movie in the trilogy was a different genre, a romantic comedy and then a suspense thriller and then a relationship drama.
And all three of the films had the same characters. I mean, in all of our lives, we are in different genre of stories.
And I think it's really noticeable in this story because the first episode of the series is kind of a romantic comedy.
There's kind of like a comedy of manners thing. You know, she's going to the opera with her grandma and this weird guy with ears. And it's awkward. It's kind of a funny story at first.
Yeah, there's a little bit of a Julia Stiles movie and. Yes. And then the middle two episodes are sort of like this Noah Baumbach movie of just broken ass people being mean to each other. Yes.
And then this episode ends up being basically a true crime story. She is now really the archetypal victim of a true crime narrative. Right. She's this hot white lady and this terrible thing happens to her. And then there are years of people talking about her with her as a sort of tangential character, like a Laura Palmer type of figure.
She's also like Laura Palmer and that she's someone who we all collectively killed. And this is now getting into my first real memories of Princess Diana, which is that I was vaguely aware of her right before she died, like in nineteen ninety six. Then when she died, what I remembered was just this endless, amazing, astounding outpouring of public grief.
I remember it as before 9/11. It was kind of our generation's. Where were you when you heard JFK got shot? That's true. It was just a massive deal.
I was trying to watch Rugrats at the time. Do you want to do you want to catch us up to where we left her? Yeah. She has finally gotten divorce from Prince Charles. She had just ended a relationship with a doctor who she had been seeing for a couple of years. Well, it basically kind of gotten him to break up with her by being photographed in the company of another gentleman named Dodi Al-Fayez. Yes. And so she was seeing him apparently in the last month of her life, which was August nineteen ninety seven.
Yes, she is killed on August 31st. Nineteen ninety seven.
So we also talked last week about another confusing thing, which is that she announced that she was resigning from public. Yes, exactly like she was just trying to have a more chill existence, trying to spend more time with EastEnders, but so I am about to send you the first photo of this episode.
OK, I'm ready.
And as usual, we are going to put all these in a blog post and link it in the description under this episode.
Wow. She looks great, right? Do you think she looks like Natasha Richardson? Oh, yeah, a little bit. Especially the gamze. Yeah, she has a big ass.
Looks like a diamond necklace, a sparkly blue dress and shimmery tights and also baby blue shoes that have also kind of a shine to them. She's just like very sparkly.
This is the opposite of the mom jeans. Look, she's like full glam here.
I don't know. I would actually say it's a continuation of the mom jeans because when mom jeans goes out, she wants to be a big sparkle.
She's also doing some championship clutching here because none of her clothes, of course, have pockets in like every photo you ever see of her.
She's always holding something in her hand.
Yeah, well, she can't get a purse because that's the queen's thing. Yes. So she has to have a clutch. She has to be clutching. So where is this?
This is where we are beginning our story. It is June 3rd of nineteen ninety seven.
So this is her arriving at a performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Ballet. This is where she bumps into Mohammed Al Fayed, who is the owner of the Harrods department store.
She has known him for a while. He's basically her father's age. And Mohammed Al Fayed and her father have been buddies for a while.
He also for years now has been organizing late night after the store closes shopping excursions for Diana at Harrods because she can't just, like, go there and shop like a normal person.
Can you explain what Harrods is for people who don't know it's OK.
I have a beef. I have like a 20 year long standing beef with Harrods because when I lived in London, I only went there once and they made me take my backpack off.
It's just a super duper duper posh department store. And I guess wearing a backpack is unpossible or something, but they make you carry around your backpack like some sort of chump the entire time you're walking around there.
So I was there for like 15 minutes and I couldn't afford anything anyway, so I left.
That's ridiculous because the point is, OK, because I have not been but isn't the thing with them that they're like very fancy and they have everything, right? Are they like the Neiman Marcus of England? It's basically the aristocracy supply store.
Interesting. So he owns the place. They have known each other for years. It's becoming kind of a joke between them that every summer he will invite her on holiday with him and his family.
So be like, oh, we're renovating this castle in Scotland and we're all going to go up there for three weeks. You should take the kids and come with us.
She never says yes to these invitations, but it just kind of an inside joke between them like, oh, where are you going to invite me to go this summer?
He's actually a fascinating guy in that he grew up in a extremely modest family. His mother was a public school teacher in Egypt. And he's now, I believe, more than a billionaire or at least a hundred millionaire.
And for our purposes, there's really two things that we need to know about Mohamed Al Fayed. The first is that he's fabulously wealthy.
He's kind of one of those rich people that everybody knows that he's rich, but no one quite knows specifically what he does.
Like the Kennedys, he started out doing like import export stuff in Egypt and then somehow he rode the huge boom in Dubai.
For years, Mohamed Al Fayed has basically been like a middleman, kind of a fixer between rich business interests in London and rich business interests in the Middle East. He also starts early in the night. He starts doing property development. So he develops, importantly, the Ritz Hotel in Paris, which is where Diana will eventually die.
So the second thing to know is that he fucking hates the British establishment from the very earliest days. He is convinced that everyone in upper class British life is Islamophobic and is deliberately locking him out of opportunities and sort of the upper crust social set. Wow.
Sounds like a paranoid God. I know.
I mean I mean, later on, a lot of the conspiracy theories around Diana's death will be like the royal family's Islamophobic. And it's like, yes, that is not.
Yeah, that belief is not conspiratorial at all.
I'm shocked. Shocked there's gambling at this establishment.
So his main evidence for this is that starting in nineteen ninety five, the British government will not grant him citizenship and they won't tell him why they chose.
For their part, the British establishment basically says that the dude is sketchy, is he's sketchy.
Oh, yeah, OK. It's actually extremely sketchy. I mean, someone who makes their money in import export. Yes. You know, there's a scandal in 1994 where he's paying NP's to. Ask questions of the prime minister in parliament, which is like something you're not supposed to do. He's giving other MPs free rooms at the Ritz.
My God, I think his main beef with the British establishment is that, you know what, I'm sketchy, but Richard Branson is sketchy. Prince Charles is a sketchy name me a billionaire who is not fucking sketchy.
Yeah. Is that not just us? This also, I think importantly is what attracts him to Diana, because Diana is a member of the establishment, obviously, but she's also an outsider to the establishment.
She's also just very nice and lovely. And they chat like she'll stop by his office in Harrods when she goes shopping and they'll chat for an hour. I think that he has sort of strategic motives for getting closer to her, but I think he also just likes her as a person, too. So I don't I don't want to make him seem like this cartoon super villain.
He seems like a nice guy with a nice boat who's made his money in a few unethical ways, which describes a lot of people.
So back at Swan Lake, she has bumped into Mohammed Al Fayed and sort of in this jokey way, she's like, oh, where are you going on holiday this summer, Mohammed?
And he's like, you know, me and the family are going to send pay on my big ass yacht. We're actually bringing two different yachts.
If you and the kids want to come, it would be a great holiday. That sounds nice.
And she actually doesn't really know where to take the kids for holiday this summer because all of these country homes that she would normally take them to, they're sort of tainted by like the Charles and Camilla having sex in them stuff.
So she's kind of flailing and she's like, this actually sounds great, by the way. That he presents it to her is like times are kind of tough right now. Why don't you just come and get away from it all?
I love her. You're explaining this and this very like this. This is an inexplicable choice. She made way. And I'm like, listen, I go out on his yacht right now if he asked me.
So she agrees. And on July 10th, 1997, she goes down to Sandra. And this leads us to our next picture.
This one's like a little medley. So I assume these are paparazzi photos. Yes, this is actually a very Carol Baskin. Yeah.
Like that she has she's wearing a one piece bathing suit that is simultaneously leopard print, tiger print and maybe cheetah print. I think I see three different big cat prints. Yes.
That's known as a Basken Neopolitan. Yeah. And she's doing a beautiful dive to like she I think she has good form, in my expert opinion, as someone who watches diving briefly every Summer Olympics. Yeah, she looks great.
So the picture on the lower right becomes very important later because it sparks a lot of speculation that she is pregnant.
Oh, really? Because people are fucking terrible.
Well, I mean, honestly, I think that, like, the best policy about the potential pregnancies of other people is like, unless you see a baby coming out of them, don't assume anything unless they are crowning at the time of your conversation.
So the idea is like she's pregnant. So they killed her. Yes. All right.
A lot of the conspiracy theories depend on this idea that the royal family wants to kill Diana because she is pregnant with Doty's baby and Dodi is a Muslim.
The royal family through this entire story has seemed to me to be like stunningly out to lunch and and about everything.
And why do you think it's credible that they have anyone killed at this stage in the game? Like, do you think that they're even that relevant?
I mean, these people cannot get heating in their castles.
I don't think they're assassinating their daughter. It's really a Dolores Claiborne situation. Right, because if you kill some princes in a tower, you don't get punished. Time passes and then you get blamed for the thing you didn't do.
The only evidence that she is pregnant is this photo. And just after she gets to Santur pay, the photographers, unfortunately, find her. There's these paparazzi that basically hang out in Santa Fe in August because a lot of celebrities go there and they just hang out like looking for whatever celebrity they can find. And when they find them, they'll just sort of attach themselves to these celebrities and take pictures of them for the rest of the summer. We later find out that Diana made arrangements with some of the photographers after they find her, that she'll kind of go over to them and she's like, look, you got thirty minutes.
Take as many photos of me as you want in thirty minutes and then leave me the fuck alone for the rest of the day. And they're like, yeah, that sounds fine.
At one point there's like this scrum of press and she's just chatting back and forth, what are you up to the summer, how are things. Whatever. And they chat for sort of ten minutes. And one of the things that she says is you'll have a big surprise coming soon with the next thing I do.
I know. Which I'm sure meant that she was going to, like, open up your own pottery studio or something like that.
I mean, the current theory is that she was opening a chain of hospice's. Oh, I.
And she also later in August, she talks to a journalist and says that she's planning on retiring from public life sort of even more.
She's. Like Fleetwood Mac, he just keeps going on a farewell tour, basically. But it's really I mean, it's a very vague announcement. And keep in mind, she has not met Dodi Al Fayed yet.
So the idea is that she would be coyly hinting and announcing the fact that she's pregnant with the baby of her ex-boyfriend, who has had a really sad breakup with also like it's funny because before you mentioned pregnancy rumors, I was looking at these pictures and thinking to myself, I hope that this body reflects maybe a story where Diana has stopped so actively battling with her body she's been doing for her whole life and is just sort of enjoying what it is, which is beautiful and strong and adult and does what she needs it to do.
I mean, this is a perfectly normal body for a 36 year old woman to have, and also that she is being photographed like being active, jumping around, diving.
Like it's the other piece of evidence for this sort of deep, dark conspiracy thing is a handwritten note that people find after her death. So in the note, she says, I'm sitting here at my desk today in October, longing for someone to hug me and encourage me to keep strong and hold my head high. This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous.
Someone is planning an accident in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry him.
It's pretty smoking gun ish. Yeah, it's very specific.
What's amazing to me, the most amazing thing about this to me, the handwritten note, you can find it online. It's not difficult to find.
And they truncate her last sentence to sort of an excerpt of this that goes around is they're planning an accident in my car in order to make the path clear for him to marry.
That's what you always read. What she actually wrote is that they're going to kill her in order to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy.
So the reason why everybody cuts off the last word of that sentence is because it reveals that Diane is pretty fucking paranoid and she's paranoid about a bunch of stuff that isn't true. Right. This is at the time when she thinks that Charles is sleeping with his nanny.
Right, because it's her being simultaneously right and wrong. Yes.
And the reason why she predicted this in particular is remember her security guard who died in a motorcycle accident rides.
So all of that is to say, A, she's not pregnant. B, she goes on this holiday and she's having a blast. I mean, it sounds like her kids are enjoying themselves. She's enjoying herself. It's private. The press is kind of bothering her, but it seems like she's managing it quite well.
So she goes out to, like, throw out some shome, do her chores, and then she comes back in and plays backgammon or whatever.
So then fatefully, on July 16th, Dodi Al Fayed arrives. I have spent all week reading various biographies of Dodi, and there's a really interesting Vanity Fair article about him.
And Tina Brown talks about him in her book.
And every account of him describes him as this weird nonentity. So this is from the Vanity Fair article.
He rarely read a book and expressed a few opinions or interesting ideas. He wasn't someone who was the life and soul of a party. A friend says he would sit and observe.
One of the things that attracts Diana to Dodi is that he has a very similar upbringing to her. He grows up in one of these households that is materially very privileged, but emotionally utterly bereft.
So one of the details that is in Tina Brown's book is that when they go back and interview his relatives about what he was like as a kid, a lot of his relatives don't even know where he was living there, like I think he was in Egypt that year, or maybe he was in a villa in the south of France when he was just a little traveling bachelor when he was eight.
There's also a story in the Vanity Fair article that his friends threw him a 30th birthday party. And in the midst of this, like poppin bottles type birthday party, he sits down and he gets kind of morose and his friend is like, what's going on, Dodi?
And he's like, no one's ever thrown me a birthday party before. Wow. He also ends up accidentally producing the movies, Chariots of Fire and Hook Up.
How did he accidentally produce Hook? I'm imagining him like being knocked out of a window and falling through several awnings and then into a hook.
Meaning metaphorically. Yes, OK. Essentially, his dad chips in. I think it's three million bucks to the production of Chariots of Fire and then the movie ends up getting made. And Dhoti is the one that gets the producer credit. But everybody who worked on the movie is like he he didn't really visit the set as like at one point they ask him, like, do you have any input on the script?
And he's like, make sure it's funny and smart.
And they're like, OK, Doti is kind of really good advice. This is what Vanity Fair says. Dodi Fayed was a 42 year old man child with a lavish monthly allowance, by most accounts, one hundred thousand dollars. He was charming and generous, but his good. Intentions couldn't dislodge his reputation for reneging on commitments and creditors, Doty was accused of failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent wrecking rental properties, selling film rights he didn't own, and neglecting to pay attorneys, doctors, repairmen and even his projectionist.
One account for model and actress Tracy Linde alleged that during their affair, they fought like children, trading pushes and slaps.
She also claimed that he once threatened her with a nine millimeter Beretta like that for Diana at the time that she meets him, he's involved in all these weird legal battles.
He's getting sued by American Express over some random stuff. He's suing his own ex-girlfriend for living in a condo that he gave her. But then he tries to get the deed back.
He's also engaged to someone else.
When he meets Diana, he's engaged to a model.
And Kelly Fisher. So he is also a hot mess. He's a huge hot mess, dude.
But in these various accounts, too, because we know Diana well enough at this point, you can also see why Diana likes him, because, first of all, he has basically the same childhood as her. He is great with her kids, which is really important to her.
At one point in Centropa, he rents them a nightclub so that they can go dancing and not have any press there. That's very cute.
He also activates her rescue complex. This is from Andrew Morton's book. His sensitivity was attributed to the calamities he experienced in his life, namely the death of his mother, whom he adored, and several other close relatives. This combination of suffering and sensitivity was attractive to Diana, who reacted with an intuitive reflex when she saw pain and others.
Diana has a type rich, sad guys who are old and emotionally incompetent.
This is exactly what attracted her to Prince Charles. He's this rich dude who I need to rescue.
She also I think this is really moving, actually, and this only shows up in Andrew Morton's book when she's on this holiday in Santa Fe with Mohammed and Mohammed's wife and Dodi Al-Fayez and all their kids.
It's her first glimpse of an upper crust family that's really warm with each other.
Mom, Diana, all of her experience of kind of rich people in families in her social set are these royal family adjacent type people where it's really formal. And then she's with this family, like on a yacht. And, you know, they're just like sitting at the dinner table like they're still dripping from going swimming that day. And it's chill.
You know, you can just sit there in a bathing suit and snack because they're like the slightly shady nouveau riche. So, you know, it's totally old money versus new money.
She's all of a sudden in this family where it's like, I feel like I fit in with these people because on material things like, oh, you know, my yacht broke down yesterday, what a bummer. We can relate. And also, they're just fucking nice and they have feelings that they are comfortable expressing.
Yeah. We also know that Diana has a history of getting super infatuated with people.
She's just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her. Yes.
We don't actually know that much about what happened on this holiday and how they got together. But we know that after he shows up in Santa Fe, they pretty quickly fall in love and get infatuated with each other.
And he's minus the defining things of her husband, it seems like, which are like being cold and having a weird relationship with his parents. Where does he want to be king? Because, like, his mom has to die for that to happen. That's a stressor.
So they overlap in Xandra pay for a couple of days. I think it's four or five days. She comes back to London, he sends her a bunch of pink roses upon her return to Kensington Palace the following weekend. This is total infatuation stuff.
They have a sex weekend in Paris, sex weekend, where he picks her up in a helicopter and he doesn't tell her where he's taking her.
And then he flies the helicopter to the Ritz Hotel in Paris and it seems they like barely leave the hotel for this entire weekend.
I think that if you're taking someone somewhere and you're not telling them where they're going, there is like one place you're allowed to go. And it's the Ritz Hotel in Paris is sex holiday. Are you with them or is this what like the Daily Mail calls? Oh, this is amazing. Oh, great.
Because we know from Tina Brown's book that she likes sex, which is chill.
I love sex. Holiday is a surprise because to be clear, I would like to promote its usage as much as I can. Yes.
Basically, just like a stage of the relationship, like with death, there's denial, anger, bargaining, whatever with relationships. There's like meeting sex weekend, IKEA. Then on the 31st of July, they go on another yacht holiday.
This is like three days after they get back from their sex holiday. I mean, they're like really into each other. They just fuck off on this yacht again for a week. That's lovely. I love this detail. This is from Andrew Morton's book.
According to a stewardess who serve them, their nights were filled with champagne and caviar. Frank Sinatra, George Michael and the English Patient soundtrack on the stereo and passionate embraces under an inky, star filled sky.
I hope that they listen to freedom. So it's just like two. Boomers hanging out to yacht boomers, so I'm going to send you another photo this time I'm going to send you to. These are ultimately the photos that on some level kill her.
Oh, God. OK, Sunday Mirror, August 10th, 1997, 60 P World exclusive, the one they all wanted. And then the big headline says that kiss. And then it has a very grainy picture of presumably Princess Diana from the back and Dodi Al Fayed. And interestingly, you can't really tell who either of these people are or what they're doing.
It's clearly like taken from space, right? It's so grainy.
Yes. And then the sub headline is now Dodi flies off to buy an engagement ring for Diana, locked in her lover's arms. The princess finds happiness, alas, inside 10 pages of the most sensational pictures ever. And then there's a lottery ad.
And then I also sent you the inside spread.
I do not think these are the most sensational photos ever. To be clear, the most sensational photos were taken by Robert Mapplethorpe.
OK, the headline is Princess in Love, and it's pictures of them on a yacht, mostly from the back.
And they're not doing anything. They're hugging, I know, sitting around. And then she's pointing at something and he's looking at it and he has so much chest hair that it looks like he's wearing a very deep cut tank top. That's a plus. But I would not call them sensational. I would call them invasive and boring.
What these photos do and the reason I say that they eventually kill her is that they completely transform the economics of photos of Princess Diana.
So for the last couple of years, she's single and a photo of her shopping, a photo of her attending an event, these go for a couple hundred pounds, a couple of thousand pounds. Right. If it's really sensational or she's yelling at a photographer, maybe thirty thousand pounds or something like that. Right.
The photographer who takes these photos sells them for two million pounds.
Oh, my God, it's hell. Why not do it? Two million pounds in nineteen ninety seven.
You can buy a great number of Tickle Me Elmo on Cosmo Dotcom. He takes them on the seventh. But there's three days of negotiation with all the tabloids about like. Right. There's like one paper by first day. Right. Then the next one gets like three days later right there. In such high demand, one of the other tabloids makes a computer recreation of them, can't get rights to the photos themselves.
I cannot begin to express how boring these images are to look at later.
It's just it's mostly but it's just spotz remember what we said in the first episode that it's not about the photos in the tabloids.
It's about the narrative that the photos are an example of. Right.
And it's about having new data points because we're seeing inside her love life. We're excited because she doesn't know she's being seen. She's being candid. There's one shot where she's sitting very unladylike and splayed because she's on a fucking boat in the fucking ocean. Yeah, it's like more information in this gossipy story, but like everyone in the country is addicted to.
And so overnight, the number of paparazzi that follow her around quintuple because, hey, I can get a photo of the two of them together and sell it for two million bucks.
The next couple of weeks of their relationship are basically them trying to avoid the paparazzi in London. And then on the 22nd of August, she leaves London for the last time to go on their final cruise together. We have on August twenty ninth. This is the day before they die in the car crash.
Mohammed says that Dodi called him and said that he was thinking of asking Diana to marry him.
We also have extremely consistent reports from Diana's friends that, you know, they would tease her like, oh, you're seeing this guy. You know, I hear wedding bells, whatever.
And she'd be like, oh, no, I'm not getting married again. Are you fucking kidding me? I just got out of a marriage. There's no way I'm going to get married again.
So in principle, she was not looking to get married again. But, you know, maybe she would have made an exception for Dodi. We don't know. It doesn't seem he ever got the chance to ask her to marry him.
It is kind of nice that, you know, if you have to die suddenly, then, like in a state of infatuation is one of the better states to be in.
I mean, this to me is one of the small graces of this story that she does appear to have died at really one of the happiest points of her life.
They seem to be blissfully in love.
They're still in the throes of infatuation. They're still high off their sex weekend. Whether it would have gone anywhere or whether it was just summer lovin had me a blast. She had a fucking blast. Yeah.
Summer dreams rip at the seams, Mike. So now we get to the day that she dies. OK, I don't know.
I can show you a photo, but it's going to be really fucking depressing. I mean, it's taken of her while she's alive, right? Yes, yeah. Oh yeah, yeah. Is this the last photo taken of her? I mean, the last sort of like full body photo taken of her.
There's various photos taken through the car windows. But this is the last sort of where it looks like Diana photo.
I know. I know.
She looks cute. Yeah. She looks a little bit harried. Yeah. She's not in a great mood in this when this photo was taken. We'll talk about it.
So she's striding into the car. It looks like she's in a hurry. Looks like she's aware of being photographed and is in a studied way ignoring the cameras and just looks like this is a moment like a million other moments of her life.
That's the thing. That's what I thought when I first it, too, that this there must be many more photos like this that we've never seen because they're sort of quotidian and it's like her not in a great mood.
Getting into a car like this is one hundred pound Diana photo, right? Yeah. This is this is one of the shows.
Yeah. So I, I spent all this week reading various accounts of what actually happened this day.
So most of this is based on a book called Death of a Princess, which is an extremely thorough examination of what actually led to her death and everything that happened in the aftermath.
And then also there's the British inquest into her death, which is 900 pages long.
It really is like JFK.
My notes for this were originally one hundred and forty pages long. And a lot of it was this sort of tick tock, what they did during the day, what they ate, who they saw. And last night I just cut out a lot of extra detail.
So if there's anything you want to know, ask me. But I'm going to race through this pretty quickly, because honestly, these are just very standard day in the life of a celebrity and a very standard drunk driving car crash.
Well, one of your pet things is that we if we want to talk about clear and present danger in our lives, we could be talking about cars and car accidents. Yeah, but we never want to talk about it. And then when it happens in a high profile way, we're like, oh, my God, who would have suspected cars?
Exactly. Yeah. So they've been on this yacht for a week. It is now August 30th. They're killed on August 31st, but it's 20 minutes after midnight. So it's sort of like an extension of August 30th. So August 30th is really the day in question. At 3:00 p.m., they arrive in Paris. They had flown from Sardinia.
They're getting off the plane.
And there's a huge cast of characters here. But we just need to know the four people that are in the car at the time of the crash.
So there's obviously Diana and Dodi are in the backseat. The driver of the car is named Henri Paul. He is the head of security for the Ritz Hotel. His job on this day is to go to the airport, pick up Dodi and Diana and get them to the Ritz Hotel safely. There is also a guy named Trevor Reese Jones, who is the personal bodyguard of Dodi.
He will eventually be the passenger in the car when it crashes.
So the whole plan is they're on their way back to London, but they're going to stop by in Paris for a day because Prince William's birthday is next week and Diana wants to do some shopping. So they're planning to sleep at Doty's apartment because he has an apartment on the chandeliers. But they want to stop by the Ritz first because Diana wants to get her hair done and Dodi has some business stuff to do.
So they go straight from the airport to the Ritz.
Dodi runs out to a jewelry store where he is getting an engagement ring fitted.
Oh, wow. So he's really getting serious.
Yeah, all day they're getting pursued by the paparazzi.
At one point, there's thirty photographers outside of the hotel and one hundred sort of onlookers, because when random people, tourists and stuff see a bunch of photographers, they're like, oh, I'm going to wait here and see if a celebrity comes out.
So they eventually leave the Ritz around 7:00 p.m. They go to Doty's apartment and there's already a shitload of photographers camped out at the apartment. They just sort of duck their heads down, get into the apartment. They hang out upstairs for two hours. The plan is they're going to go down to some fancy Michelin seven star restaurant, something, something, and then they're going to come home and crash at Doty's apartment. They've given up on the plan of shopping because they just can't leave the house.
So they drive to this fancy restaurant. There's paparazzi all around the car and taking photos of them.
And they basically get to the restaurant and they see that it's going to be a disaster. If they sit at this restaurant, there's gonna be paparazzi outside taking photos and the whole time and potentially sneaking in.
And it just going to be a bad scene. So, like, you know what? Let's just go back to the Ritz. This is ridiculous. So they try to eat in the restaurant of the Ritz, but even in there, there's too many gawkers and they're like, oh, fuck this. They just go up to a room and they hang out there for like two hours.
It's now around 11:00 p.m. and they have to figure out how to leave.
There's a hundred people outside and they're both just in a bad mood.
One of the most amazing things about this is that we've had French investigation, a British investigation.
We've had documentaries. We still don't know how Henri Paul, the guy. He was driving the car, how he got drunk, huh? So basically his job was to get them from the airport to the Ritz safely after they hang out at the Ritz during the afternoon.
Danny gets her hair done.
They leave. Henri Paul is like, well, my day is done. It's Saturday night. I'm going to I'm going to go. So he leaves. And to this day, we do not know what he did in the next three hours.
A later autopsy report will show that he has nothing, no food in his stomach, but he has the equivalent of eight or nine shots of whiskey.
Oh, God. Wow. OK, I really thought it was going to be like he had too much wine, but wow, why isn't he eating bread? Well, this is the thing.
He didn't know that he was going to get called back to the Ritz. He had no idea they were going to come back to the Ritz.
It's a Saturday night. I ain't got nobody. Yes, I got some money because I just got paid. I'm going to have eight or nine shots of whiskey.
The authors of the Death and Diana book go around to sort of his regular haunts because he has a lot of bars near his house that he goes to regularly. And everybody reports that they didn't see him that night. However, all these interviews are taking place after Diana has died famously in this car crash. And nobody wants to admit I'm the bartender who gave him the whiskey that night.
One thing we do know is that one of the bars he goes to is a lesbian bar where he hangs out all the time.
Oh, this is an excerpt from The Death of Diana book.
I've known him for twenty years, says the bar's owner, Jose Fiftyish, blonde, tough looking and a self acknowledged lesbian.
I love it, leaning on the bar under a garish mural depicting nude women.
And he was a nice guy. Gentle self acknowledged. The lesbian is one of those very niños phrases that gives away what it thinks of being a lesbian, because that's like calling yourself a self acknowledged con artist yourself, acknowledged diva like kind of a shady thing that you're taking pride in being so like, well, then 90s you ruin everything.
So we don't know where he is when he gets this call, but we know that he's had these sort of three ish hours off the job. We know that he's been drinking. He gets a call from his sort of deputy, the next guy down at the hotel and says, Henri, Dodi and Diana are back at the Ritz Hotel. And there's this massive scrum of paparazzi outside. Things are looking dicey. You might want to get back here.
Let's call him Hank. He's like, Hank, you got to got to come back to work. Come back, man. So he does. So he goes back to the hotel.
He arrives around 10:00 p.m. He sits at the hotel bar with some colleagues. He has two more drinks. His job is still to get Dodi and Diana safely out of the hotel. So he somehow gets pulled into Doty's plan, Doty's plan to solve all this.
He's like, what we're going to do is there's like our official cars that are out front. So what we're going to do is we're going to sort of ostentatiously have our official cars leave the hotel.
And that way the paparazzi will follow them and then we will quietly leave in another car by itself out of the back, like how O.J. used to use AC as his decoy and give A.C. Cowlings is close to where it's not a great plan.
But Dodi nominates Henri Paul to drive and Henri Paul is the head of security. He's not a chauffeur, a driver. He's not licensed to be a chauffeur driver. There's been other incidents where people have been like, hey, can you drive me?
And he's like, I don't have the license for that.
But apparently Dodi either talked him into it or whatever mood he's in. He agrees to be part of this weird plan, even though this really isn't his job.
I feel like it's a classic kind of rich person thing to do to, like, assign a job to someone who's a supervisor of some sort. Yeah. Rather than realizing that the person whose job it is to do that would be good at it. Yeah, exactly.
So it seems, Diana, for this whole thing is just very passive and it's just like whatever you guys figure it out, I just want to get home. This is this is bullshit. Like it's been a long day.
She's looking at the assortment of objects she's clutching, waiting for it to be over.
So whatever happened, we know that that is the plan that they had. They drive the cars out of the front and Dodi, Diana, Henry and Trevor get in the car. That's the photo you just saw. And so now we get to the crash.
So they leave out of the back entrance. But there's three or four paparazzi back there that start following the car. And then almost immediately, someone tips off all the paparazzi in the front who are like, oh, Dodi and Diana just left out of the back. So all of the paparazzi that were previously in the front get on their motorcycles, get in their cars and rush around to the back route.
It doesn't seem like Henri Paul was speeding superduper recklessly. Until they're driving through Paris, they get to a red light and all of the paparazzi catch up to him.
There's motorcycles around them, there's cars behind them and there's flashes going off. People are taking photos in. Car, you can find these photos online and so the for the light right before it turns green. Henri Paul guns and just there's like a long straightaway leading into this tunnel and he just literally floors it. And it appears he was going somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred miles an hour when he entered the tunnel. Oh, wow. It's bad.
Your ability to anticipate what's in front of you with that speed is basically nonexistent.
So, OK, now we're going to talk about what actually caused the crash. For this, we have to do a little physics corner.
So have you heard of something called the trampoline effect?
No, I am familiar with trampolines. However, that's a start. So, Sarah, if you are driving straight and then all of a sudden the road slopes downward, what happens?
It depends on how fast you're going, because if you're going at a moderate speed, your tires would stay with the road and you would stick with it. But if you were going and depending on how much the road sloped and depending on how fast you were going and depending on the suddenness of the road slipping downward, I can see you getting some error, literally getting air.
Yes. Not only do you get air, but then after you get air, you crash back to Earth. Right.
So there's sort of this this feeling of less gravity. And then there's this feeling of kind of double gravity.
Gravity catches up and it's like you thought you got away from me.
So this is known as the trampoline effect and it takes place even when you don't leave the ground. So even if you're only going, whatever, 30 miles an hour and the ground slopes down and the car, you can kind of feel that. Right, that the car kind of lifts up.
Oh, yeah. And then it sort of settles back down. So when the car lifts up, the tires have less traction.
So in a lot of crashes, what happens is right when the car lifts up, you try to steer. The car doesn't really respond because there's not as much traction. And you're like, oh, shit, so you oversteer. And then the car comes crashing down and then you have double traction and then the car just veers off.
So this actually explains a lot of crashes.
So as you are probably predicting, what happens is this tunnel that they enter in Paris, as soon as you get into the tunnel, there is both a sharp dip downward and a left hand turn on a normal day.
The speed limit in the tunnel is 30 miles an hour, going 30 miles an hour. You barely notice this. The trampoline effect means nothing.
If you're going 100 miles an hour, it means a lot there in the left hand lane, in the right hand lane, there is a white fiat uno. As the road dips and curves, Henry steers the wheel to turn along with the road. And because the car has kind of lifted up off the ground at this point, he doesn't steer enough.
So he sideswipes the Fiat. So he hits the back corner of the Fiat.
And then as the car settles back to Earth, he overseer's there's these, you know, fractions of a second where he kind of skids and he slams on the brakes, but it's not enough.
And so in this over steering, he ends up running head on into one of the pillars between the oncoming lanes.
Oh, God. So they hit the 13th pillar, the car crumbles and you can see the square indentation of where this power goes straight into the front of the car.
That's horrible. It's really bad.
So I imagine that being like just you're looking at the car and then the car is crumpled up like a tissue, they say, because he slammed on the brakes and turning, etc. He hit the pillar at about 60 miles an hour.
God, nobody in the car was wearing a seatbelt. Oh, no. Originally, reports were that the bodyguard was wearing a seatbelt, which is actually odd because bodyguards are supposed to exit vehicles quickly. So the protocol is actually for them to not wear seat belts, which seems bad and weird.
But anyway, it turns out later or at least the British inquest finds that nobody was wearing a seatbelt if they had been wearing seatbelts, but that have done anything, if if you had a pillar at 60 miles head on, the driver would not have lived.
Rhys Jones did live and Dodi and Diana probably would have lived on one of the guys. The experts, it looks at this later says that if you hit head on anything above sort of 60, 80 miles an hour, the car, like the whole car disintegrates.
Whereas in 60 mile an hour crashes, oftentimes the rear of the vehicle is pretty intact. But there is a possibility that one or both of them would have lived if they had seatbelts on.
Yeah, I mean, it's not guaranteed that they would have, you know, better odds wear seatbelts, everybody. Yes.
So I just want to talk quickly about the sort of the conspiracy theories around the crash.
Yeah. Around this very ambiguous event where it's like, wow, like how could a healthy woman have died after a 60 mile per hour impact with a colony?
So this is what the British inquest says. The vehicle was moving at excessive speed. The chauffeur did not regularly drive this type. The vehicle the two toxicology analyses of the driver showed a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit and the passengers were not wearing seatbelts. All the conspiracies aside, most people who are in crashes like this die.
A huge thing for me, too, is that this was not the normal route that you would drive. If you look at a map of the Ritz Hotel and Doty's apartment. This is not remotely a straight line in a crowded European city. It's not like L.A. or something like this. Tic tac toe board of freeways. Paris is like a little rat king of like little Windy City.
There's an almost infinite number of ways you can get from point A to point B. There's all these things of like, you know, somebody flashed bright lights in the tunnel to blind Henri Paul and that's why he crashed.
And it's like there's no reason you would think that they would even be driving in that tunnel. Also, the timing is important.
It was only yesterday that Dodi started telling people that he was going to marry Diana and there's no evidence that he had asked her or that she sort of saw this on the horizon.
So if the royal family, somebody wanted to kill them, to keep Dodi out of the royal family, how would they even know and how would they have planned something this vast? Right.
There's also the extremely basic thing that it really makes no sense to assassinate someone in a car crash anyway.
It doesn't make a lot of sense to assassinate somebody in this extremely public way.
In an accident to which there are dozens of witnesses, the lead up to it has dozens of witnesses. There's just too many moving parts.
And also it double doesn't make sense because of all the time that they were spending on boats.
So like in various interviews over the years, former like MI6 people, CIA people, whatever they'll be like, it's actually pretty easy to assassinate somebody on a boat ride. You can get divers, you can attach an explosive to the boat, you sink it, and then the crime scene is at the bottom of the ocean. Like it's actually much more easy to get away with that.
I mean, I just feel like putting conspiracy theories into this suggests that there was a dearth of factors that we knew about and were partly responsible for in Princess Diana's life that could collaborate to kill her. And if you add fleeing from paparazzi to like someone is driving who shouldn't be driving and they go into the wrong tunnel at the wrong moment, at the wrong speed, that's enough.
Like that's not suspicious. Those things, you know. But it does feel to me like that's the kind of thing that you come up with. And like as a public who is invested in this woman's death, partly because you have been supporting the industry that obtains images of her, then like you're to blame.
Yeah, exactly. So Henri Paul is killed instantly. Dodi is also killed instantly. Trevor Reese Jones, he has extremely grievous injuries, which I am not going to describe because I accidentally read a sentence.
But what they were and it bummed me out. But he's grievously injured. It takes him two weeks to wake up to this day. He doesn't remember anything after they get in the car.
Now that this is kind of incredible that Diana is slumped in the back seat, but she has really no visible injuries. She has a trickle of blood going down her forehead. But that's it. It's kind of amazing. I mean, she has already internal bleeding, which nobody can see on the outside.
She actually kind of looks OK when she always looks OK on the outside, doesn't she? So the first person to reach her is a photographer who opens the back door either to take her pulse or to take a picture, depending on which account you believe.
Why not? But as I'm sure their response to that, we know that at the scene he calls an editor for a British tabloid and offers him photos for three hundred thousand pounds.
This is like minutes afterwards, you know, when you when you call something ghoulish. Normally, I know it doesn't mean that you find yourself picturing literal ghouls.
It's fucking gross, dude. I know. And they don't know that she's dead yet, but like, they at least know that she's grievously injured. Yeah.
There's a lot of discussion later about why didn't the photographers do anything? The photographers and I kind of understand this. They're like we didn't know what to do.
And moving somebody in one of these situations can be really bad for them.
And we fucking doctors, what most horror movies show you is people like picking up someone who has clearly just suffered potentially a spinal injury and just like yanking them around. Yeah, like, I respect the opinion of someone who sees what is clearly a serious accident and is like, I don't have training in this. I don't know how to remove someone from a car crash. Yes. I don't defend their right to take photos of it, but like I do defend their right to just, like, not know what to do.
Yeah. And then seven minutes after the crash, the ambulance arrives shortly after that. The cops arrive and start arresting a bunch of paparazzi. So there's these like year long manslaughter trials in France of the paparazzi that followed her and took pictures.
Yeah. Is this a good time to talk about their liability?
I mean, there's a direct liability and there's the sort of indirect liability. The the the French authorities eventually clear all of these photographers of charges. What the judge eventually says in this case is that what you did with immoral and unethical, but it's not clear that it's illegal.
It's that most unsatisfying thing where blame is really spread like cut up thinly and spread across different people. Exactly. You know, there's the chance there's the fact that he made poor decisions because the fact that Dodi wanted him to drive for some reason, there's the fact that the paparazzi are there, as usual, but it's just like it's stacked in from so many different directions that, like, you can't seize on any one individual cause and feel satisfied. This is it.
And people often say that there's no way he would be driving that fast unless someone in the car was telling him to go faster. Potentially Dodi or Diana could have been like, hurry, hurry, hurry. Sure.
I don't know. It's not satisfying human malice in the story. It is exactly what you can find and be like. You wanted her to die. Right.
And also, it's not clear that the French authorities picked up the seven paparazzi that were chasing them most aggressively because they got to the scene 10 minutes after the crash and just were kind of arresting photographers willy nilly when the people who were just implicated themselves might have decided it's a good idea to move on.
So we we don't even know if these are the right seven photographers to arrest. But then, of course, then there's like the broader stuff of like, well, why was the photo of her worth that much?
Why were they in front of the hotel in the first place? Then you get into all this, like, indirect stuff.
It's like who's to blame for fast fashion? We are. So essentially the ambulance comes, there's a doctor on the ambulance. They very slowly move Diana out of the car.
They have her next to the car trying to sort of stabilize her. They're really worried about moving her.
Yeah, I would assume so.
And so they get her gingerly into the ambulance. And then I guess it's like a five minute drive from this tunnel to the hospital where they're taking her. And it takes them almost an hour because they're driving so slow because they don't go over any bumps and they stop a couple of times because she'll sort of go into some sort of arrest and they stop. They administer things to try to stabilize her and then they get her to the hospital. So one of the very interesting conspiracy ish aspects of this is the car crash.
Was it twelve? Twenty five? She didn't get to the hospital until after 2:00 a.m.. Oh, God.
So there's a really interesting section in the death of Princess Diana book that talks about basically this entire thing hinges on the difference in emergency management practices between French authorities and American and British authorities.
So, once again, if you want a conspiracy theory, you're going to go home feeling like you've got a rock trick or treating. Yes.
So the French theory of car crash victims is known as stay and play.
That sounds like something you do on a sex holiday, right? The theory is you want to get people as stabilized as possible immediately because it is so risky to move people and there might be internal injuries that you cannot see. So in car crashes in France, they will stay there with the victim for one two hours, getting them ready to move.
Then they will move them to the hospital. Interesting. Whereas in America and Britain, the theory is called scoop and run that the risks of getting somebody to the hospital late far outweigh the risks of moving them. So even though it's risky to move people and you could exacerbate their injuries, it's really important to get them to the hospital ASAP.
I'm annoyed that it's not a rhyming name. There's various like I guess this strikes a debate in the medical journals at the time between French doctors and US doctors about risks. And our method is better and know our method is better.
But ultimately, like a lot of people are going to die no matter what you do. So like, yeah, perhaps that's why we haven't arrived at any kind of a consensus. It's difficult to measure.
And also the biggest thing, the most important thing for our purposes is that there's nothing suspicious about the fact that it took Diana almost two hours to get to the hospital after a car crash in France. Right.
It's just French. It's like being wasn't it suspicious that she had a loaf of bread under her arm? Right. It's like, no, it's cultural.
Yes. So there are various debates over whether she would have lived if they had gotten her to the hospital sooner. And the death of Diana book says that they could have saved her. But then there's an update to the book 10 years later where they say, no, she probably would have died anyway. Who knows? Yeah.
And her injuries had to be really significant. When they get to the hospital, they they figure out the extent of the internal bleeding.
So they take her to the specialist doctors and they do their best. And it takes until 4:00 a.m. to declare her dead. There's just nothing they can do. So to return briefly to the conspiracy, the.
Raise at around 1:00 a.m., so around 40 minutes after the crash, someone on his team calls Mohammed and tells him there's been a car crash. Your son is dead. Diana is severely injured. And apparently the first thing he says is this was no accident.
I mean, I can understand him having some of the same idea as the Princess Diana has. Exactly.
So from the earliest days, Mohammed Al Fayed is one of the greatest boosters of Princess Diana conspiracy theory.
And because his beloved son died in a really silly and unnecessary way and there's a Vanity Fair article in 2004 that covers a lot of the conspiracy theories and the journalist goes and meets with him.
The journalist says you've lost almost every legal action you've undertaken so far. Why do you persist face to face darkens? Do you have children? I nod, yes. Put yourself in my position. Somebody snatches your son and slaughters him. What do you do?
You have to get the bastards. I can't rest till I find out who did this. The tycoons eyes suddenly well up with tears. He stands and heads for the door. I'm sorry, he says, shaking his head. I have to go.
This really becomes his life's work after 1997. And one of the things that's amazing is if you read the British inquest report, this 900 page behemoth, it's all based around claims that Mohammed Al Fayed has made.
It's like Mohammed Al Fayed claims there was a bright flash. This is why it's not true. Over the course of the next decade and a half, he pays private eyes. There's all these documentaries that come out that he participates in. He makes himself available to journalists. I mean, he is ceding this theory systematically that there had to be something more going on.
He's Penelope waiting for Ulises to come home traveling and unraveling his documentaries because like, if he stops doing this, then his son is just gone and gone in this, like, meaningless way.
He dated this lady. She was being pursued by the paparazzi and then he died in a drunk driving crash.
The wrong person was driving. Yeah. On the wrong name.
I think this case is very instructive for understanding sort of how conspiratorial thinking works.
So one of the things that Mohammed mentions this is in the Vanity Fair article, he says there are serious unanswered questions.
Why did it take medical rescuers nearly two hours to get the princess to a hospital? Why did French authorities not make available tapes from surveillance cameras outside the Ministry of Justice and along the Mercedes itinerary? Why did MI6, which would have been alerted to Diana's presence, failed to come forward with what they know about the crash? These are all, by the way, totally answered questions like like we know why it took medical rescuers two hours to get her to the hospital.
You know, he puts the stuff out over and over again. And it's like, dude, there's answers to these questions available. You're just not accepting those answers.
And also, you can deny everything a face with an explanation. You're just like. Now, the most fascinating example of this is that years after the crash, somebody somehow finds out that one of the paparazzi that was following Diana around when she was in Santa Fe owns a white Fiat. And it's like dun dun dun paparazzi owns the white Fiat.
And it turns out that he killed himself under very mysterious circumstances.
A couple of years later, these poor people that work for the British inquest have to look into this. And yes, it's true that he owned a Fiat UNO at the time and it was white.
And the paint samples match like match the white paint that was put on the Fiat at the Fiat factory. Yes.
And literally any white Fiat in the fucking country would match the paint. It's not like matching a fingerprint.
Yeah. And Fiat's answer, like economy cars right there, like a normal person, just car like there's a lot of fiat that large. Yes. It's like a Honda Civic or something in America.
That's exactly the comparison that I wanted to make. Yeah, it's like a Honda Civic.
So like, OK, there's also all this great shit that the Fiat that he owned, he actually hadn't driven it in two years. In nineteen ninety seven. It was, it was not, it didn't have wheels on it. Was it a junkyard.
Now it's not even a functioning fiat, you know, at that time. And also he doesn't even live in Paris. He lives 90 minutes outside of Paris and there's no evidence that he was in Paris that night.
They interview his this poor woman, his wife, who lost her husband to suicide.
And she says like, well, he had been having all this financial anxiety because his son was a racecar driver. And that's a really expensive hobby. And he was running out of money, basically, and the press paparazzi industry was changing and becoming digitized. And now that everybody has a cell phone, they can take photos. Celebrity photos aren't worth as much anymore.
He's seeing that leaner times are coming and he's like, fuck my sons. And to race cars. Exactly. Famously, I'm shady hobby shared by Michael Abenaki.
If you look at anything like you could take any car crash in America and if you subjected it to this amount of scrutiny, I have no doubt the. You would find things like this, like little puzzle pieces that are like, well, that's a little out of the ordinary, isn't it? So, again, I could spend hours talking about these. There's like a million of these little, quote unquote, discrepancies that when you look into them, aren't discrepancies.
And also it just feels so perfunctory to debunk these things because it's like there's no alternate theory of the crime that makes any sense.
Right. So our last chapter is going to be about the reaction to Diana's death by the royal family. Have you seen the queen? Are you aware of this? I feel like this is pretty well Trodd territory.
I have not seen the queen because one of the things you know about me is that whenever people won't shut up about a certain piece of media, I cannot stand the concept of engaging with it. And the Queen was a movie that people loved, like people were really into that movie. And I was like, OK, I care negative at this point.
So I'm fresh, OK. Second to last photo, I have seen this.
Right. Hmm. So we are looking at the scene outside the gates of Kensington Palace and it is just a field of flowers. And I'm sure other stuff. I see teddy bears, I see balloons. I see a lot of people who are sort of huddled together in a group paying their respects. But just like and because of the way the photo was taken, you can't see where it begins or ends. So it's hard to say especially how big this is, because, like just a field of flowers.
And I actually know because I wrote a paper once for as researching some Diana facts. And one of them was that the under layers of flowers became a layer of mulch because there were flowers on flowers, on flowers. It's kind of lovely, actually. It is, yeah. And actually, you can see that the balloon that is in the foreground is the queen of hearts. You see that? Yeah. So it's it's the scene outside Kensington Palace after her death and gets the public tribute.
I mean, it was a huge deal. We'll talk talk about the news breaking and how did this hit people? How did people react like all of that?
So the news breaks at four, 41 a.m. on August 31st.
So just 40 minutes after she was pronounced dead, basically, the royal family is told about 30 minutes before that Prince Charles gets a call.
It wakes him up in the middle of the night. He gets up, but he decides not to wake up his children because he wants to figure out how to tell them.
The first thing that has to happen is that Charles has to go to Paris to get her body.
There's some actually like, very sad stuff here that apparently in the last couple of months of her life, they had been getting along pretty well after the marriage is over and the negotiations and the lawyers and everything else, they can both finally start to mourn this marriage. There's this interesting scene right before they finalize the divorce where Diana invites him over to Kensington Palace for tea and they finally have a sort of like half. Well, we tried kind of thing like the way that you do with your ex where neither one I really trying to get back together.
But he was like, you know, looking back on it together, kind of like with whatever friendship is left.
Yeah. Like things have calloused over and they're able to sort of see things as they were and maybe be like, we did not have a shot, did we.
Yeah, exactly. Like you can kind of bond over that on some level.
There is like a really special thing that happens when, like, the thing that has been turning you against each other suddenly becomes the thing that you like, bond over and commiserate about. Yeah.
Something that you share, basically. And she had actually sent him a cute note when this guy that he was obsessed with remember Lawrence Vandar Post that he was reading her excerpts from this guy's miserable books. Yeah, he died.
And Diana sends Charles a nice note like, man, you must really be like this guy was a mentor of yours. And I know he's really important to you. Just want to say I'm sorry. That's sweet.
It's like a little Merry Christmas text from an ex. And that is like very I'm fraud.
Yes, exactly. Yeah. So he flies down to Paris that day to get her body.
This is from Tina Brown's book.
The Prince went into the room alone to view his former wife and death at the moment, Charles. And today in this chamber, he was still calm and collected. But it was another man who emerged, a man utterly shattered by what was happening. He later told Camilla that seeing Diana's lifeless body was the worst sight I have ever had to bear witness to. I could only think of her as the girl I first met, not the woman she became and not the problems we had been through.
I wept for her and I wept for our boys, trained all his life like the Queen to transfer the expression of emotion to something other than its cause. The Prince became agitated about a detail the loss in the crash of one of Diana's gold earrings. No, she can't go without her second earring, he kept repeating distractedly.
Oh, Charles, I know the royal family. You know, this happens in August when they're in the middle of their Balmoral holiday. So they're all up at their weird country home.
Essentially, they make. The decision very early that they are going to rally around William and Harry and give them whatever they need, the queen takes all the TVs out of the house so that William and Harry can't see what's going on.
They have this sort of sense when they're in Balmoral that it's just like a, you know, a place away from politics. It's their vacation time. And they just really are not paying attention to what is going on in the country. And the queen's position throughout this period is basically that like, well, Diana wasn't a member of the royal family because she doesn't have her title anymore.
It feels possible to me that without malice, just like an incredibly callous person, because she was raised according to this pointless set of beliefs, the way that Tina Brown puts it is that she has been raised her whole life and so is Charles to see stoicism as the most important value.
The thing you must do as a person for your duty is to not show emotion, to not have political opinions, to not make waves, to not say things unless you utterly must.
So to them, this is you know, the nation is in mourning. They don't need to hear from us.
British culture is amazing and it sometimes feels like a weird RPG, you know, because with all of the fox hunting and the weird use of language and the pub names like, I feel like I'm being tricked into believing such a place exists.
Well, this is the thing I keep thinking. They're responding like they're asking themselves sort of how would a fairy tale king respond to this in some imagined old timey Shrek time?
What does the actual population of our actual country in actual 1997 need us to do? What do they want from us? Right.
The country is like you're not saying anything. And it's like it's just weird that what we consider to be a member of the royal family has just died and the actual royal family is not doing anything right.
There's this huge controversy over, you know, obviously in London, all the flags at half mast and at Buckingham Palace, there's no flag at all. There's just this naked flagpole sitting there. And it's like, excuse me, why would the one people who are supposed to care about this woman not be flying their flag at half mast?
Yeah. Do they have a flag normally?
Well, this is this is a thing it's a bit of a you're wrong about because everybody gets really worked up about this and it, of course, becomes a symbol of royal callousness. But people who know all these protocol very well, what they point out is that it's not like a normal flagpole. It's this thing where they basically put up the royal sigil when the queen is in residence, which you wouldn't know because you don't even have one single.
I know. It's like it's like an out of office auto reply. Yeah, it's a vacancy, no vacancy sign.
It's literally never flown a Union Jack in the first place and it's never flown at half mast because like, that's what it does because the queen is happy here.
This is actually a media generated controversy that apparently there's this journalist that they're doing, the man on the street interviews.
They're talking to people who are in this mourning period outside of Buckingham Palace. And one journalist will sort of ask people on the street, like, what do you think about the fact that Buckingham Palace doesn't have a flag at half mast?
And of course, because people don't know, because they're fucking normal people, they're like, I think it's bullshit. And that shows up on the TV. And then other people see it on the TV and they're like, this is bullshit.
Do you think they're also like, pack it in, boys. This is our last Diana bonanza. We got to make it count.
And there's there's a million other things like this. There's the police won't let bouquets be placed outside of Buckingham Palace.
At first, they're like my ass, a roadway. Man, you can't put bouquets here. And there's this thing where you can sign a guest book for Diana and there's eventually a twelve hour long wait to sign it because there's only one.
And so people are like, why don't you just have five or six that people can sign and then they don't have to wait that long.
But the royal family for no particular reason, just like doesn't work. That's not how it's done.
It's like, OK, I never before realised how little they understand what other people think their job is.
Yes, I know. And it's such a weird Fleck's to be like, oh, she's not a member of the royal family technically.
And I don't think it's a Fleck's. I think they're just like bound by this iron clad sense of like, well, she's just not like I know that everyone said, but she's just literally not. And like, we're not going to do something bizarre just because the public wants it.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's basically the stance. There's also this very pervasive sense of just bafflement among the royal family. So Prince Charles tells his biographer, I felt like an alien in my own country because he's like, well, none of these people knew Diana.
And yet they're all really sad.
It's so they just don't understand the concept of celebrity. It's like that's literally the only thing that you do. Yes. It's like it's celebrity, Charles.
It's called a Paris social. Relationships like this here, you earn your bread and butter by doing the very thing that you fail to grasp here, some of this is actually manufactured and I think this is really important.
Then in the days like the hours, days immediately following Diana's crash, and I remember this very vividly, all of the blame went on to the press.
I remember that, too. Yeah. The press itself has kind of an existential crisis during this period because everybody's mad at them. Right? Like you were the ones selling these shitty up in space pictures of her. Yeah.
And we were buying them. But who can even remember that part? This is the conventional wisdom for the first sort of 72 hours. You have to guess who this quote is from.
As much as I want to blame the press, we all have blood on our hands. All of us, even myself, bought these magazines and read them.
Do you know who said that? Fergie. Madonna? Oh, yeah.
Well, that's very insightful. Good job.
Madonna, Diana's brother, his sort of first statement of this, like as soon as he's called by the press, he says, I always believed the press would kill her in the end, but not even I could imagine that they would take such a direct hand in her death.
It's like, whoa, he's here.
So what is the belief that they were, like, nipping at their heels? Basically? I mean, the original information that we had was that she was chased by the paparazzi and that she was trying to escape.
And so then on September 1st, so this is like a day after her death is announced, we get the toxicology report on Henri Paul.
And immediately, because the tabloids want to deflect attention from themselves, all of the headlines are it's a drunk driver.
The driver was drunk. Look out drunk. The driver was the driver was super drunk. This becomes a very useful narrative for them because then it doesn't matter that the paparazzi were chasing her. It doesn't matter that the press had been hounding her for years. All of a sudden, woops, it's just a bad apple in the sun.
They have a headline that says Die Driver Drunk as a pig.
Pigs aren't characteristically about drunk. It's not even whatever. I mean, of course, it's the media itself has to be the one sharing this information. So you can see why they would be getting a little bit excited about having an alternate theory they could just use to describe the whole thing. Yes, exactly.
And the royal family being aloof is another great narrative to distract from all of the anger at the parade.
It's like the press didn't kill her. Her in-laws being rude killed her. Exactly.
Yes. So these are some of the headlines that show up in the days after her death. The Daily Express. Show us you care. The son. Where is our queen? Where is her flag? The Daily Mirror. Your people are suffering. Speak to us, mam.
A Sun editorial says that empty flagpole at the end of the mall stands as a stark insult to Diana's memory. Who gives a damn about the stuffy rules of protocol? So finally, all of this gets fixed. This is the climax of the movie The Queen Boys. So almost a week has gone by. On September 5th, the queen flies back to London. They do put a flag on the Buckingham Palace flagpole. They're like, fuck it, we've never done it before, but who cares?
Just put it up there. Get people to stop yelling at us. The queen does a walkabout. She shows up at Buckingham Palace and, like, shakes people's hands.
There's this famous moment where she's shaking people's hands and somebody gives her flowers and she's like about to put them on the pile for Diana. And the person who gave her the flowers says, no, no, they're for you. It begins to humanize her. She then gives this very famous speech live where the quote that comes out of it is what I say now to you. I say as a queen and as a grandmother. And that was the first time she had sort of let that mask slip and spoken as the head of a family rather than the head of a country.
And, you know, we take what we can get with monarchs, like it's not that big of a deal, but it's like, oh, she's speaking to us as a person right now, not necessarily only as the queen celebrity has changed and the time that she has been queen, like she's been doing this for a long time.
Oh, yeah. Perhaps people used to genuinely want her as a symbol in a way that they feel differently about in the nineties.
I mean, Diana's death was really a symbol then and now of all the ways that she had changed the monarchy, but also all the ways that she didn't change the monarchy and couldn't change it.
This is from Andrew Morton's book. He says, Those few days after her death captured forever the contrast between the princess and the House of Windsor, her openness, their distance, her affection, their frigidity, her spontaneity, their inflexibility, her glamour, their dullness, her modernity, their stale ritual, her emotional generosity, their aloofness, her rainbow coalition, their cohort of aristocrats.
While all of the themes that she had brought up were just like getting hammered into the British public at this time, although, interestingly, they decided.
Quite quickly, I mean, once the queen sort of fixes it and she shows up in London and she puts the flag up, most of the anger is actually anger, denial, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Like maybe they just needed someone to get real mad at her a while.
And so on the 6th of September, nineteen ninety seven is her funeral. Did you watch this on TV?
No, I'm sure there were lots of nine year olds who were compelled by this, but I'm pretty sure I was watching Alex Mack at the time.
So they didn't they had never planned for this, obviously, because she's thirty six years old. So they didn't know what would happen if she died. So they use the instructions like the protocols that they have in case the queen mom dies.
So they're like, oh, let's just use that as a template for a similar people.
They have to extend the parade route because there's so many people that want to watch the procession. So they have to sort of spread it out as long as possible so that they parade her casket through town.
Yeah, exactly. So she's in sort of this like open. It's not a hearse thing, but like a sort of stagecoach thing, just like the wedding. There's this issue where sort of traditionally Prince Philip, Diana's brother, and Prince Charles would all be walking behind her casket. And so that's how like the procession is going to work, that they're all these three men in the casket are going to walk through London.
But Charles is afraid that he's going to get booed.
Oh, Charles, suck it up.
So they add William and Harry. Oh, so he creates a blue shield with his children. Exactly.
And so he gets Prince Philip to talk them into walking in the procession.
Wow. How do they feel about that? This is my, like, ultimate fame as abuse thing.
They're 12 and 15 and they're essentially as part of their whatever royal duties, being forced to make a public display of when their fucking mother dies. It is so gross to me.
And because their father is so afraid and just maybe not justifiably so. But like, I don't think this is coming from outside. I don't think it is like the fake arm thing like this is not entirely out of nowhere, is so afraid of getting booed by the public at XYZ funeral that he has to use children as human shields.
I just think whenever anybody has lost their mother, they should not be having to think of how it will play in the press and they should not be having to be used for these narratives of like, how is this going to affect my job?
Basically, it really sucks. However, a 12 year old and a 15 year old want to mourn.
It should be completely up to them.
But then when you think about it, it's just as gross for Charles. Like Charles is just as much of a victim of the system as they are. It's all abuse. It's all totally indefensible.
Yes, it's very gross. The whole thing is gross. It's gross. Episode five, it's gross.
So it is kind of cute that on the funeral procession to keep the kids from breaking down, Prince Philip is just telling them about landmarks along the way. So he's just like, oh, that's the building where this thing was signed.
How long of a walk is this, too? Is it's like Miles. I mean, it's like an hour and a half. It's God. Yeah, no. All right. So now we're going to watch a clip. OK, I'm ready.
This is Diana's brother's eulogy. So there's some gossipy stuff. He sort of shit talks the royal family, and this becomes like a minor scandal. But I think the much more interesting part of his speech is when he's talking about Diana as a person. So that's what he's talking about here, right? Three to one go.
There is a temptation to rush to canonize your memory. There is no need to do so. You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities, not need to be seen as a saint. Indeed, to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, you know, wonderfully mischievous sense of humor with a laugh that bent you double your joy for life, transmitted wherever you took your smile and the sparkle and those unforgettable eyes, your boundless energy which you could barely contain.
But your greatest gift was your intuition, and it was a gift you used wisely. This is what underpinned all your other wonderful attributes, and if we look to analyze what it was about you that had such a wide appeal, we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives. Dana, explain to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected.
And here we come to another truth about her, for all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness, of which are eating disorders were merely a symptom. Well, since this part of her character and cherished vulnerability, whilst admiring her honesty, what do you think?
It's really good. I mean, I didn't know her, so I don't know if this is accurate, but like, based on everything else I've seen and heard, like, it feels like he's trying and being somewhat successful, at least in conveying who she was as a human being.
Yeah, I think it's important when people die, to be honest about them. Yeah. I like his instinct not to canonize Diana and to see her as a person before she was a queen, before she was all this other shit. She was also a person and she was messy and she was also nice. And all that complication is part of her legacy.
Yeah. And then we need to be able to remember that, like, you can be a hot mess express and still leave the world better than you found it and be a light in people's lives. It's important to wrestle that meaning away from, I think, the more frequently accepted idea that, like some people are just great and we love them because they're great and we're sad about them dying because they're great and they're not like you because they're a hot mess express.
It's like, no, she was one of us all along.
I think there's like two interpretations of her legacy, one, which I think is too cynical and one which I think is too naive.
The too cynical explanation is that something that I think both the royal family and world leaders and politicians and people in power generally learn from Princess Diana is that the illusion of authenticity is a great replacement for actual caring. I can see somebody looking at the kind of work that Diana did and be like, you know what? What we need to do is go to this hospice and shake people's hands and get great photos and then fucking cut their budgets.
Yeah. How much can you get away with if you look nice in front of cameras and you had this display of authenticity.
So you think she inspired like a generation's worth of imitators who cynically appropriated the hollow, yet effective version of her celebrity?
I mean, one of the things I found very reassuring in the research for this is that there is no evidence that Diana was doing any of this cynically. Like you don't find behind the scenes that she was like rolling her eyes at people she met on these AIDS wards, like all of the evidence is that she really did care about the kind of work that she was doing. And she opened the door for a different kind of person in power.
But once that door was open, then people who really were doing it cynically can rush through.
I think that we have had this massive appropriation among people in power of the kind of authenticity that Diana had. People realised that they could fake that and that they had to fake that.
That sucks. But then the naive explanation of her legacy is really that the most moral dimension of our lives is what we do with power.
Well, can you embroider that on a pillow? I mean, most of us don't have very much power, and our power over other people is very limited. It's you know, it's over our kids or it's over people who work for us or, you know, it's nothing like most politicians have.
The person taking our order at the sandwich shop. Right. Notably.
But what Diana did, she didn't have a lot of sort of official power. But what she did have was the power of attention. She didn't really have to do this. I mean, the extent to which this sort of charity stuff, this was not something that she had really been expected to do on the level that she did raise.
She easily could have done one tenth as much of this as she did and been fine in the eyes of the public.
Yeah, and I think I grew up with the Diana model in a sense that this was just what royalty did, that they were just just constantly holding children and going to where the landmines were. I mean, it feels like it's like she's like training a puppy. She's like, if I run over here, you're going to chase me.
And it seems like those were her ambitions for later in her life. If she had lived right, she was working on a chain of hospices like she was trying to expand how effective she was at these kinds of efforts.
So I have one last photo. This is my favorite photo of Princess Diana.
And I have been saving it for the last thing we talk about. Here we go.
Oh, this is super cute. You know, I love this. This is really great.
This is her at an AIDS hospice. She is chatting very intently with me and vibing, it seems like totally vibing. She's dressed like she is at a wedding. She's wearing a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, her heart of the ocean ring. She's got her shiny nylons and she's wearing a dress that is exactly like the, like, dress up dress that I had when I was. All that's like a very busy floral pattern, and she looks like she's at a nice outdoor wedding and also has the demeanor of someone at an outdoor wedding not stressful.
A nice one like she is.
She looks like she has a, like, little plate of half eaten canapés just out of frame beside her because she's like, you know what it is? This is gossip. Oh, yeah.
Yeah, it really is.
She's sitting there with her legs crossed and she's like leaning her whole body toward this guy who she's talking to. And then she's talking to a guy who has the power of someone who's not doing very well. He's wearing like a terrycloth robe and what looks like a hospital pant, you know, he fits with the hospital setting. She doesn't. But it actually it feels as if she has, like, airlifted him into this moment of being at a summer wedding with her and guessing about something.
Yeah, that's a lovely way to put it.
And so I found this really moving description. This is someone describing a photo. This is not the photo in question. I looked very hard for it, but I couldn't find it. But he's describing a photo that was taken of him and Princess Diana.
So this is Tina Brown's describing a conversation she had with a NBC reporter. An NBC commentator recalls the reaction to Diana's death from a patient at an AIDS hospice outside London to which Diana had once brought William and Harry.
I was sitting at a table with a gay gentleman in his early 60s in the hospice cafeteria. It was a picture of him and Diana with another man, and Diana was laughing hard in the picture. I said to him, what the heck was going on? That she was laughing so hard. And he said, Well, I was so nervous. And my lover, who was very sick, he has since died, was sitting beside me. And it was all very strange.
And I didn't know what to say. I looked at her and I suddenly said, hey, you're a princess. And I, I'm a queen.
And he started to cry as he told me the story. And it suddenly connected with me that she was a symbol of letting it all go, letting all the bridges down. Even in the midst of being a royal and being a celebrity royal, she was the symbol of saying, fuck it, none of it matters.
Love that for her. Yeah.
And so I think that's a good thing for there to be a symbol of. Yes. Of letting it all go. Yeah. Yeah. I'm just bummed, I guess feeling like once again, like if she were alive today she would be like fifty nine years old and just like there would have been so many more years of just this, you know, just these, these visits and these conversations. And also it feels like she was someone who like felt genuine life sustaining joy and connecting with another human being.
And that's what's driving you then. I don't think it can be fully cynical. I think there can be aspects of cynicism and sincerity operating at once, especially if you're in a very email centric fields and you know how to anticipate how people are going to interpret your behaviors and all of that. But, you know, it just feels as if like this was something that was sustainable for her and that she would still be doing today because it meant apparently as much to her as it did to anybody else.
I think people want that in the same way.
When she gave that speech in Wales and she was really nervous, it connected people with her. And when she's dealing with her own issues and she's acting out those issues by talking to other people and hearing about theirs, that's something people can feel.
And so that's it. That's our. And a series that was Diana. That was Diana, you know. Yeah, I like her.
She can stay. So in conclusion, carry on the legacy of this wonderful person by pushing an old lady, though. Do you think that that's not it either?
I think carry on the legacy of this lady by caring about people that you have power over and connecting with people who maybe are going through some stuff.
And maybe you're going through some stuff to notice the power you have and teach it to chase you like a puppy to the places where it needs to go.
Yes. Puppy powers, Farida.