Diana again

Photo by Propboy - follow link for the originalIs it me, or is the Diana inquest turning into a long slow public humiliation for Mohammed al Fayed?

The Stevens report concluded that there was no conspiracy, and was damning in the number and quality of the details on which it based its conclusions. No – she wasn’t pregnant. No – she wasn’t going to marry Dodi. Yes – the French medical and post mortem professionals had all behaved professionally and – yes – Henri Paul was drunk. Accidents happen, and marrying royalty doesn’t change the laws of physics.

But though it was impressive to read the details of the Stevens report, it had nothing like the effect of the slow drip-feed of partial, personal, idiosyncratic evidence coming out of the inquest. It’s a compelling glimpse into the lives of the idle rich; lives cluttered with drivers and body-guards and butlers and spiritual healers and other odd and trashy acolytes.

Everybody seems to have been using everybody else; al Fayed was using Diana for headlines and glory, Diana was using Dodi to provoke Hasnat Kahn, Dodi was using his father to bank-roll his wooing of Diana, Diana was using al Fayed to sponsor her charities, al Fayed was using the press to puff up his own importance, the Press were using Diana to sell newspapers, and Diana was using the press to publicise her affair with Dodi. It’s almost as if al Fayed was buying Diana, with Dody as his proxy. Ach, that’s my imagination. Like everyone else, I am over-egging a summer fling.

So far we have discovered:

  • Diana thought that al Fayed was bugging the yacht
  • Diana thought that al Fayed was tipping off the press about her movements
  • Diana was on the pill for the whole of that summer
  • Diana’s letters to Prince Philip were articulate and thoughtful, but her letters to Dodi were inanely polite

      We already knew:

      • The photographs supposedly showing Diana was pregnant were taken before she was in a relationship with Dodi
      • al Fayed regularly over-ruled the advice from his security staff, in particular on the night of the 31st August
      • al Fayed employed a chauffeur who was known to be an aggressive driver, who was an habitual drinker and who had drunk a lot of alcohol that night
      • al Fayed approved the plan to leave from the back of the building

      Two inescapable sub-texts come from the press coverage of the inquest: al Fayed was beside himself with excitement at the idea of ensnaring Diana as a trophy daughter-in-law, and he strutted around Paris and the Med overruling his professional advisers, showing off his tin-pot entourage which did not have the numbers or professionalism to be up to the job.

      I still feel sorry for al Fayed because, as the details come out day by irritating day, it’s clear that he was the one whose decisions more than anyone else’s brought about his son’s death, and it’s equally clear that he has spent the last ten years blaming everyone else. But there’s another picture emerging from the inquest, a picture of a greedy opportunist, bullying his staff, exploiting his family and their friends, manipulating everyone – his son, his son’s fiancée, Diana, the press, us – all for his own aggrandisement and glory. I used to think that the events of the 31st of August 1997 were the final pay-off of a beautiful and insecure woman’s faustean pact with the press; I am beginning to think it was more a matter of Saturnus eating his own children.


      11 responses to “Diana again

      1. The interesting thing is the almost dogmatic mindset of people who have for 10years said: ‘Of course she was murdered.’…like my mother.

        Of course, now it’s pretty much conclusive that Diana was not murdered my mother has changed her mind to:

        ‘Well, we will never really be sure/be certain/know.’

        The other interesting factet is the reason it has taken 10years to get to this point is that Fayed has been dragging it out as long as possible. We may now know why: he never wanted it to get to this point as the truth would out.

      2. I think it is all rather sad and pathetic and worrisome how the public at large let itself be pulled along in this so called murder conspiracy. It was as though everybody had lost their common sense and wanted to believe the unbelievable. I hope this can all be put to rest now and that the outcome is clear to everyone and their mother included. I very much dislike it when some form of self enforced ignorance prevails under a large group of people.

      3. I just kind of hoped that the coroner would call Mr Al Fayed as a witness and have him cross examined by everyone there. In person, not just answering the questions he wants to answer through his proxy pr person.
        The real sad thing is some parts of the press are still using Diana to sell their papers. It’s over. She died ten years ago in a car crash can we all just get on with our lives now?

      4. I think it’s merely a continuation of the humiliation that’s been going on for years. Mind you, having been banned from his store for toting a perfectly formed backpack in through the doors, I can’t say my sympathies are exactly with him.

      5. “Is the Diana inquest turning into a long slow public humiliation for Mohammed al Fayed?”

        I certainly hope so.

        “I still feel sorry for al Fayed”

        Why? He’s an obviously megalomaniac person of shady financial antecedents who has used his “ownership” of Harrods to promote himself in a totally unscrupulous manner and has heaped scurrilous abuse upon the Royal Family [not that I’ve much time for them either]. The sooner he’s kicked out of the country, the better. I might then feel free to go shopping in Knightsbridge again.

        As for the public’s feeding frenzy over the Diana saga, what else are the Royals for except to provide a public soap opera and sell newspapers? They whine about their privacy, but would soon shrivel without the oxygen of publicity.

        And of course it IS a rattling good story – even better than the Maddie McCann madness [did they – didn’t they?].

      6. Afster, I’m curious, given that there is almost no difference between the information in the Stevens enquiry and the information reported out from the inquest, and given that almost all of that information was in the public domain before Stevens was published, what’s changed your mother’s mind? Is it that she’s actually read the drip-feed from the inquest, and didn’t bother with Stevens? I’m not dissing your mother, just trying to understand how other people think.

        Irene, “self enforced ignorance” is such a good way of putting it, and I find the conspiracy theorists extremely irritating. Initially it was just a matter of denial and shock, both of which lead people to errors of judgement. What’s not ok is the huge amount of money that the conspiracy theorists have caused to be spent on the Stevens inquiry and on the bloated inquest.

        Phil, I’d love al Fayed to be brought to the stand.

        Omega Mum, don’t be petty now!

        Anticant, I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, adult or not, and I feel doubly sorry for anyone whose actions contributed to the death of their own child. It’s happened close to home, and I found it impossible not to feel rage with the parent as well as pity. But it’s quite clear that no matter how much you or I blame the parent in such a case, the parent will blame themselves far more, which is what I think is happening here. I do feel very stupid though: Ian Hislop was saying for years that al Fayed was everything you describe him to be. I can’t say I hadn’t heard it. The McCanns are another case of parental stupidity but I doubt very much that they are a case of parental guilt. The criminal people there were the Portuguese police who failed to treat the apartment as a crime scene from the start, and who permitted the forensic evidence to be destroyed.

        Ach, as Phil says. They are dead. We should move on.


      7. Aphra, I find it hard to feel as charitable towards the McCanns and their endless manipulative media-spinning as you are. They may not have done anything intentionally criminal, but their entire behaviour pattern since day one reeks of denial.

      8. I haven’t picked that up from their behaviour, but am willing to accept it’s there.

        It’s hard to imagine that they aren’t having to struggle to come to terms with their own culpability in leaving the children unattended, which was an arrogant and stupid thing to do. (I do find it incredible that anyone could think it ok to leave children un-minded in that way, though people do it all the time).

        It seems to me to be very implausible that Madeleine died accidentally at their hands, so we are left with the idea that they both murdered her (which I find equally implausible for different reasons) or that the was abducted which is like a lottery win – something that happens to someone on a regular basis, but which is statistically very unlikely to happen to any specific individual.

        I don’t see anything to explain in their behaviour other than their initial stupidity, and heaven knows we are surrounded by that in this world.


      9. I have stayed three times at Praia da Luz – thankfully in pre-McCann days – and it was a quiet, friendly, sleepy little place off the beaten track with a good many retired British residents as well as mostly British holidaymakers. Not at all the kind of place where predatory prowlers or child snatchers would be likely to lurk without sticking out like a sore thumb.

        Whatever happened to Madeleine, the whole thing seems extremely odd to me – not least the parents’ relentless media-hogging orchestrated by an ex-government PR man. There’s more than a smack of “the lady protesteth too much” about it. Umpteen other children have gone missing since Madeleine disappeared. Why not a similar hoo-haa about any of them?

      10. Madeleine was a photogenic blonde, and for whatever reason the media like to spin unnecessary mysteries around photogenic blondes. In fact it’s more surprising that Princess Grace’s death was not assumed to be mysterious than that Madeleine’s disappearance was.

        Yes, Kate McCann protested more than somewhat, but on the other hand her frankly unforgivable stupidity enabled her daughter to be kidnapped. Even if there was some form of accident (which I don’t credit) it’s clear that they were in the habit of leaving the children alone each night.

        I’ve no idea what predatory prowlers or child snatchers look like, but I do know that con artists don’t look like con artists, and based on that experience I’m willing to accept that child snatchers don’t look like child snatchers. Ian Huntley didn’t raise hairs on the neck in Soham until after the girls disappeared.

        I’m not evangelical about the McCanns; you are more than entitled to your own opinion, anticant. I see nothing more than naive and arrogant stupidity on the part of the parents, than pride coming before a dreadful fall.

        The question I have, and the area I’d look for conspiracies if I were so inclined, is with the police. Why the f*** did they not treat the place as a crime scene straight away? Modern forensics are more than good enough, when crime scenes are treated as crime scenes, for the whole thing to have been sorted out in a matter of days, or weeks at the most.

        As I said, I’m not trying to convince you, merely to articulate my own opinions.

        All the best


      11. “Photogenic blonde” be blowed! She was/is a perfectly average looking not particularly pretty little girl with a squint.

        We are neither of us mind readers, but we both have some psychological experience. I find the lengths to which the parents have gone to whip up a media storm and to collect oodles of money [being spent how, and on what?] not only distinctly peculiar but distasteful. Is this how you would have behaved? I very much doubt it. I am not accusing the McCanns of conspiracy, but they are certainly not naive and do come across as arrogant and self-promoting.

        As for the Portuguese police, I agree they don’t seem the brightest. But they had to come three or four miles from Lagos late at night, and by the time they arrived there would have been plenty of time for the ‘crime scene’ to have been thoroughly trashed over.

        Just my opinions, too. Will we ever know the true answer? I certainly hope so.

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