Diana's body arrives in Britain
August 31, 1997
Web posted at: 3:47 p.m. EDT (1947 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- The coffin carrying the body of Princess Diana
arrived at an airport Sunday night near London, and was put
into a hearse by an honor guard as Prince Charles and other
family members watched in silence. The cortege then slowly
Flags flew at half-staff as Britons mourned the death of
Diana after a car accident in Paris early Sunday morning.
Also killed were her companion Dodi Fayed and the chauffeur.
A body guard in the car was seriously injured.
The coffin, draped with the official flag of the British
royal family, arrived at Northolt Royal Air Force base. The body reportedly was taken to a private mortuary. No funeral plans have been announced.
Prince Charles, visibly shaken by the turn of events, and
Diana's two older sisters -- Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady
Sarah McCorquodale -- went to Paris to retrieve Diana's body
from the Salpetriere Hospital, where doctors had desperately
tried to save her.
Prince Charles and French President Jacques Chirac, who was
with the prince at the hospital, thanked the doctors for
A British embassy spokesman said that before Diana's body was
released by the hospital, her sisters spent a few moments
alone with their sibling.
Physicians said the 36-year-old Diana died from internal
bleeding stemming from major chest, lung and head injuries
she suffered in the accident that also killed her companion
Dodi Fayed and the chauffeur. The fourth person in the car,
a bodyguard, was seriously injured. There was no word on his
Attempts at heart massage failed
"Diana's body arrived in a condition of serious hemorrhage
and shock. Shortly thereafter, she went into cardiac arrest,"
said Dr. Bruno Riou, an anesthesiologist at the hospital.
"An urgent surgery showed a severe wound to the left
pulmonary vein. Despite the closure of this wound and the
two-hour external and internal cardiac massage, no official
respiratory circulation could be established, and she died at
4 a.m. Paris time," he said.
Fayed's body was to be flown to Alexandria for burial,
according to Egyptian state television.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles said in statements
early Sunday that they were "deeply shocked and distressed by
this terrible news."
The Prince of Wales woke his and Diana's children, Princes
William, 15, and Harry, 12, and informed them of their
mother's death at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, where they were
spending the summer.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "I feel like everyone
else in this country: utterly devastated. ... She was a
wonderful, warm human being."
Photographers who trailed car taken into custody
The Mercedes crashed in a tunnel at the Pont de l'Alma bridge
along the Seine River. Immediately afterward, police detained
seven photographers who reportedly were pursuing the car in a
high-speed pursuit of photos.
On Sunday afternoon, police announced a further step: The
photographers had been placed in formal custody, and the
probe would be handled by a special police unit usually
assigned to high-priority terrorism cases.
Bernard Dartevelle, a lawyer for Dodi Fayed's father, Mohamed
Al Fayed, said Sunday the family may file a civil lawsuit
when the results of an investigation are complete.
The car was traveling at 80 to 85 mph (128 to 136 kph)
when it slammed into a concrete abutment in the narrow
tunnel, careened into a wall and was crushed like an
accordion, police said. According to witnesses, paparazzi --
the commercial photographers who constantly followed Diana --
were pursuing the car on motorcycles.
Police seized two motorcycles and a motor scooter
believed used in the chase. France Info radio said at least
some of the photographers took pictures before help arrived
-- and that one of the photographers was beaten at the scene
by horrified witnesses.
"Serious questions will need to be asked as to whether the
aggressive intrusion into her privacy has contributed to this
tragedy," said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
Mourners gather at Kensington Palace
In London, people gathered outside Diana's Kensington
Palace residence before dawn. Some sat with their heads in
their hands and wept. Flowers from mourners adorned the
One man lit two candles at Kensington Palace.
"I just feel disbelief more than shock," said student Fiona
von Schank, 24, who brought two roses. "It's amazing that
this woman who finally seemed to have just about found some
happiness has now died so tragically."
Diana and Fayed, the 42-year-old son of the billionaire
Egyptian owner of London's prestigious Harrods department
store, had arrived in Paris on Saturday afternoon on a
private visit. They had dined at the Ritz and were headed to
a villa owned by Fayed in a posh district in western Paris,
France Info reported.
|Fayed family spokesperson Michael Cole relates Dodi's feelings for Diana
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Witnesses: at least 1 photographer at scene
American Mike Walker was among the first on the scene. He
said the car Diana was in "looked like it hit a wall."
American tourists Tom Richardson and Joanna Luz, both of San
Diego, were walking nearby and sprinted into the tunnel when
they heard screeching tires and a horrific bang.
"There was smoke. I think the car hit a wall. A man started
running towards us telling us to go," said Richardson.
Luz added, "The horn was sounding for about two minutes. I
think it was the driver against the steering wheel."
They described the car as a dark blue Mercedes, with the
passenger side airbag deployed, facing oncoming traffic.
They also said at least one cameraman with professional
equipment was snapping photographs less than 15 seconds after
|Eyewitnesses describe the crash scene
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"His equipment was very professional. His camera was a foot-
and- a- half tall," Luz said. "It definitely was not a
Offering condolences via Web
The royal family's Web site, www.royal.gov.uk, invited users
to offer condolences. The site opens with a color photograph
of Diana smiling and dressed elegantly with a bouquet of
wildflowers. The caption is simple: "Diana, Princess of Wales
1 July 1961 - 31 August 1997."
On a special link, users can sign in on the visitor's book
and express their sympathy.
"Thank you for your kind message of condolence for the sad
loss of Diana, Princess of Wales," a message from the royal