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Princess Diana Death: Timeline of the Fatal Crash

A minute-by-minute chronicle of her last hours.

23/08/2017 12:36 | Updated 30 August 2017

Princess Diana, arguably the most famous woman on the planet, was killed in a high speed car crash in Paris on 31 August, 1997.

The 36-year-old was travelling in a Mercedes Benz S280, driven by Henri Paul, the acting head of security at the Ritz Hotel in Paris where Diana and her new lover Dodi Fayed had earlier shared their last meal.

Paul, 41, was killed instantly in the crash, as was Fayed, 42. Diana died several hours later in hospital. Her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, then 29, was the only survivor. None of the occupants of the car were wearing seatbelts. 

Who was in the car

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Diana, Princess of Wales. Former wife of Prince Charles and mother to Princes Harry and William. Pictured here with William, then 15, leaving a Chelsea restaurant a month before the crash.

Andrew Stawicki via Getty Images

Princess Diana’s new lover Dodi Fayed, the son of Egyptian business tycoon Mohamed Fayed, who is the former owner of Harrods and the Ritz in Paris. 

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Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, pictured here a year after the crash in 2008. The ex-paratrooper suffered severe brain and chest injuries and every bone in his face was broken. He spent ten days in a coma and surgeons had to use 150 pieces of titanium to re-build his face, using old family photos as a guide. 

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Henri Paul, who was acting head of security at the Ritz, drove the car. Tests later showed he was three times the drink drive limit. 

Here’s how that tragic night unfolded:

30 August 1997

16.35: Dodi and Diana are seen in CCTV images revealed at the inquest into their deaths in October, walking through the hotel lobby towards a lift.

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 Princess Diana with Dodi Fayed arriving at the Ritz hotel on 30 August 1997
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The couple were captured on CCTV in a hotel lift 
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Diana was smiling and appeared carefree in what would become the last hours of her life 

16.38: The couple are seen in the foyer of the Imperial Suite, walking into Room 102.

17.37: Dodi is seen leaving the Imperial Suite and walking down the corridor with Rees-Jones. The pair drive to Repossi jewellers and return nine minutes later. Fayed is holding a brochure form the store and a member of staff later takes two rings to the couple’s suite.

18.54: The couple leave the hotel and are driven to Fayed’s apartment near the Arc de Triomphe.

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The couple leaving the hotel 
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Diana seen outside the hotel with her bodyguard Rees-Jones (in an orange shirt) as she prepared to travel to Fayed's apartment near the Arc de Triomphe 

19.00: Henri Paul goes off duty.

21.51: The couple return to the hotel and dine at the restaurant until 22.01.

22.08: Paul returns to the hotel.

22.20: Fayed speaks to a night duty manager, who then addresses Paul and two further Ritz chauffeurs.

22.30: Paul goes to Place Vendome in front of the hotel, speaking to paparazzi on at least three occasions.

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Paul was seen speaking to paparazzi on at least three occasions. Photographers had been seen near the hotel from 4pm that afternoon 

22.43: Paul enters the Bar Vendome, exiting with Rees-Jones 25 minutes later.

23.51: A Mercedes and Range Rover are sent on a dummy run to test the reaction of the waiting photographers.

31 August 1997

00.06: Diana and Fayed leave the Imperial Suite at the Ritz, intending to travel to back to Fayed’s nearby apartment.

00.10: The couple are pictured on CCTV going downstairs in the lift, appearing to share a joke with Diana holding her hand up to her face as she giggles. They arrive in the lobby where Fayed is seen putting his arm around her waist.

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Diana suppresses a giggle in the lift at the Ritz, where she was pictured with Fayed, Rees-Jones and Paul 
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Diana and Fayed in the lobby of the hotel at around 00.12 as they prepare to leave 
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The couple were seen entwining their hands as Fayed put his arm around the princess 
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The couple were waiting to travel back to Fayed's nearby apartment 
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The couple one minute before getting into the car outside the Ritz 

00.20: The couple get into the car, followed by at least two photographers.

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Minutes later the car entered the Pont D'Alma tunnel
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Rees-Jones and Paul are seen in the front seat of the car. The back of Diana's head is visible in the back 

00.25: The Mercedes crashes into the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel at 120mph, instantly killing Paul and Fayed. Rees-Jones and the princess are seriously injured. Photographer Romauld Rat arrives within seconds to be the first on the scene.

00.26: Emergency doctor Frederic Mailliez is driving by when he spots the crashed vehicle. He is the first doctor on the scene and makes the first call to the authorities.

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The wreckage of the Mercedes carrying the princess, Fayed, Rees-Jones and Paul 
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Emergency doctor Frederic Mailliez is driving by when he spots the crashed Mercedes. He is the first doctor on the scene and makes the first call to the authorities
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Photographer Romauld Rat arrived within seconds to be the first on the scene

00.28-00.30: First two police officers arrive and start to cordon off the accident from gathering paparazzi.

00.32: Fire engine and ambulances arrive. Eight paparazzi are arrested at the scene and taken in for questioning. 

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Photographers and emergency workers at the scene of the crash. Diana was still alive at this point and being pictured by paparazzi as she lay in the back seat of the car, having suffered fatal injuries  

01.15: Police confirm Fayed and Paul have died. 

01.25: One hour later, Princess Diana’s ambulance leaves for hospital. She has already suffered a heart attack.

01.55: Princess Diana’s ambulance stops for five minutes so medics can inject adrenaline into her body. 

02.06: The ambulance arrives at Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital. She receives open heart massage for almost two hours.

04.00: Princess Diana is declared dead (03.00 BST.)

04.41: The Press Association issues the following newsflash: Diana, Princess of Wales, has died according to British sources.

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British Newspaper front covers reporting the death of Princess Diana
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Flowers lain at the Pitie Salpetriere in Paris, France after it was announced Diana had died 
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