Inquest jury told Diana feared for her life

NY Daily News | October 2, 2007
By Ellen Tumposky

LONDON - Princess Diana told her lawyer that her husband wanted to "get rid" of her in a car accident so he could marry her children's nanny, according to evidence presented today at the start of the inquest into her death.

Coroner Scott Baker told the jury of six women and five men that most of them would remember where they were when they heard of the Paris car crash that killed Diana and Dodi Fayed but they never would have expected to be investigating the tragedy 10 years later.

"You will be in the public eye as no inquest jury has ever been before we all will be," he warned the jurors, who are being picked up and taken home every day by police to avoid harassment during the proceedings, which could last as long as six months.

Before the inquest began, a huge crowd of photographers gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice for the arrival of Fayed's father, Harrods department store owner Mohamed Al Fayed, who alleges that secret services and Prince Philip engineered the fatal crash.

A French investigation and an exhaustive Scotland Yard probe found that the Aug. 31, 1997, crash was an accident caused by chauffeur Henri Paul's speeding and intoxication. Paul was also killed in the wreck.

"I have been fighting for 10 years, at last I want to have justice," Al Fayed said.

Baker told the jury its duty is to answer four questions: who died, when and where they died, and most controversially, how they died.

"This is an investigation and not a criminal trial," he said.

He said the couple began their romance on July 14, 1997, when Dodi Fayed arrived in St. Tropez, where Diana was vacationing as a guest of his father. A famous photo of Diana in a leopard-print bathing suit - often cited as evidence that she was pregnant, because her stomach appears rounded - was taken before Dodi arrived, so she could not have been pregnant by him, Baker said.

Al Fayed has suggested Diana was pregnant and that Prince Philip had his ex-daughter-in-law killed to prevent her from marrying a Muslim. Friends of the princess and the doctor who conducted her autopsy have repeatedly said Diana was not pregnant.

Baker described two notes that reveal Diana feared for her life. In October 1995, she told her lawyer, Lord Mishcon, that Queen Elizabeth would abdicate in favor of Prince Charles, and that both Diana and Charles' mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, would be "set aside" so Charles could marry William and Harry's nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke.

Eight years after Diana's death, Charles did marry Camilla, now styled the Duchess of Cornwall.

In another, undated note to her butler Paul Burrell, Diana allegedly wrote, "My husband is planning an accident in my car, brake failure or some serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy...Camilla is nothing more than a decoy."