It’s impossible to convince conspiracy theorists that Princess Diana’s death was an accident, according to the investigator who led one of the inquiries.
The case lent itself to conspiracy theories because people couldn’t handle the truth, Lord Stevens, 79, the former head of the Metropolitan Police, told Times of London reported.
Stevens led Operation Paget, which investigated the August 1997 Paris car crash which killed the popular royal.
“She was so popular. People find it very difficult to understand how someone like that could die in such an accident,” Stevens said. “You will have certain people around who — whatever the evidence — will still think there is a conspiracy here. I think it is probably impossible [to persuade them otherwise].”
Princess Diana’s then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed died instantly when the couple’s Mercedes, moving in excess of 60 mph, slammed into a concrete pillar in the Alma underpass in Paris at 12:22 a.m. on Aug. 31. Medics initially thought Diana would survive her severe injuries, but she died at a hospital around 4 a.m.
Conspiracy theories about the crash still thrive online, especially on the video-sharing app TikTok, which is rife with allegations that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and MI5, the UK’s intelligence service, conspired to kill Diana.
Operation Paget launched in 2004 to investigate the conspiracy theories around Diana’s death. Its first reports came out in 2006. Stevens showed them to Princes William and Harry before their public release.
“It was very emotional,” Steven said. “They asked to see me on my own. It wasn’t easy. There was anger there around a number of issues, but the main one was paparazzi.”
As part of his investigation, Stevens regularly met with Dodi’s father – Mohamed Al Fayed, the one-time owner of Harrods of London.
“When I first went in, he offered me some presents including a tie … which we certainly said ‘no’ to,” Stevens said. “And he said, ‘Would you like a glass of champagne?’ I certainly had a glass – and never more than one as it happened, even though he accused me of drinking him out of champagne, which was just not true. He was a grieving father. We were basically family liaison officers.”
Stevens’s task force examined 104 allegations, including the falsehood that Diana was pregnant and engaged to Dodi. One mystery they investigated was the apparent high level of carbon monoxide in driver Henri Paul’s blood, and who owned the white Fiat that had hit the Mercedes. Paul was also killed in the crash.
“The [carbon monoxide] was so high that it really caused concern, because the implication could be that it was pumped into the car, disabling Henri Paul and the residents,” Stevens told the outlet.
“We threw everything at this, and found the French had made a mistake. They had taken the blood from the chest cavity rather than the heart. If we hadn’t got to the bottom of that, we would have found it very difficult to come to the conclusion that there hadn’t been some malfeasance or criminal action.”
Stevens’ inquiry closed with the conclusion of the British inquest in 2008. A jury accepted the findings of Operation Paget and delivered a verdict of unlawful killing by the driver, Paul, and the pursuing paparazzi.
Stevens made his remarks in advance of a new four-part documentary about Diana’s death airing Sunday on the Channel 4 network in the UK.
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