movements of Diana, Princess of Wales, preparing for the car journey
that would kill her were shown in public for the first time
images showed her laughing and chatting with Dodi Fayed as they
walked past a succession of CCTV cameras in the Paris Ritz hotel on
the afternoon and evening of August 30, 1997. The inquest jury was
asked to watch jerky footage from 31 of the hotelís 43 cameras in
various rooms, corridors and a lift at the hotel.
began with the arrival of paparazzi outside the hotel at 3.55pm. The
Princess was shown avoiding them by arriving at the rear entrance at
4.30pm. The couple had flown in from Sardinia that afternoon.
Princess, wearing a light-coloured jacket, was shown climbing the
stairs joined by Mr Fayed and her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. She
smiled and turned to face Mr Fayed as they walked to the imperial
suite, where the Princess was staying.
couple disappeared and the Princess did not reappear until 6.53pm,
when she and Mr Fayed went out for the evening.
Princess, still wearing a pale jacket and with sunglasses perched on
the top of her head, left her suite shortly before 7pm. She and Mr
Fayed, smiling and laughing, descended in the lift and made their
way to their Mercedes, at the rear entrance of the hotel. The couple
returned to the hotel for the last time at 9.49pm, when they were
ambushed by about a dozen photographers. Two young girls looked on
as the Princess, now wearing a black jacket and white trousers,
pushed her way, head down, through the revolving doors. She and Mr
Fayed visited the restaurant for nine minutes before returning to
Princess and Dodi Fayed stand inside the back service entrance to
the Ritz, a doorway more used to kitchen porters passing through
than shiny celebrities. As security men clamp mobile phones to their
ears, for news that the coupleís Mercedes has arrived, the wait
Their body language is of a couple
who have just, or will soon, enjoy intimacy. The Princess, in
characteristic pose, inclines her blonde head slightly to her left;
Dodi, nuzzling up to her, grasps her left hand folded round her back
and occasionally strokes the base of her spine. In her other hand
she holds his cigar box.
The Princess is dressed in a dark
blazer and white trousers, Dodi in a brown casual jacket. As the
view is from the back, their expressions are largely unseen, but a
ten-minute wait for a car would normally have a former member of the
Royal Family in a strop.
Around them fusses Henri Paul, head
of security at the Ritz, and Trevor Rees-Jones (now called Trevor
Rees), their bodyguard. All move like puppets; the CCTV cameras take
only one picture per second, and the poor quality is in contrast to
Mario Testinoís sharply brilliant pictures of the Princess of not so
At the bottom of the screen the
digital clock ticks away the seconds; it is 11 minutes past midnight
on August 30, 1997.
Outside, another CCTV camera shows
the road where they hope to make their secret getaway from the
paparazzi. Roadworks block the Rue Cambon immediately outside the
door and two photographers, sensing a quiet escape, have appeared on
the opposite pavement. Around the front their colleagues, and a
sizeable crowd, cluster at the hotelís grand entrance on the Place
Then a curious thing happens. Henri
Paul goes outside to see if there is any sign of the car, and waves
to the photographers across the street. Was this a signal that their
quarry was about to appear? It will certainly be seized upon by the
Paul returns inside and appears to
brief his charges on the plan to get them to Dodiís apartment. Diana
raises her left hand to her forehead in apparent salute, as if to
signal her acquiescence to his instructions.
At 16 minutes and 57 seconds past
midnight, the Mercedes appears in the back street but cannot stop at
the hotelís rear entrance because of the roadworks. A paparazzo who
has either been tipped off or has worked things out for himself
races the wrong way along the one-way street on his motorcycle in
time to catch the action.
Henri Paul leads the Princess, Dodi
and Mr Rees-Jones a few yards along the pavement. The driver who
brought the car gets out and the four get in and immediately drive
off with Paul at the wheel, out of range of the CCTV cameras. It is
the last image of them alive; all the traffic cameras on the way to
the fatal underpass are, strangely, out of action. For the jury at
the inquests, yesterday provided a riveting morningís viewing, a
film edited down from hours of footage from 31 security cameras in
and around the hotel. Jurors were talked through it by the man who
did the painstaking work, Inspector Paul Carpenter, of the
At one point the computer system
showing the images on screens around the courtroom froze. Lord
Justice Scott Baker suggested that the way to fix it was to adjourn
and send the jury back to their room. He did, and it worked.
The video footage concentrated
largely on the movements of Paul, from the moment he drew up outside
the Ritz in his Mini at 22.05, seven minutes after being summoned
back to work by an urgent phone call. He is seen meeting Thierry
Rocher, the hotelís night manager, and fellow members of the Fayed
security staff, before heading to the hotel bar where, apparently,
there was no camera. During one of his five forays outside to survey
the street at the front of the hotel, Paul disappeared out of camera
range for 8Ĺ minutes. With each outdoor excursion, the crowd of
onlookers is seen to grow, word having spread that the Princess and
Dodi were inside.
Paul is also seen on three
occasions going up to the knot of paparazzi and talking to them.
Mayhem breaks out when a decoy Mercedes and Range Rover suddenly
take off from the front entrance and do a quick spin round the
One shot shows Paul returning to
the lobby, squatting down to tie each of his shoelaces, and
exhibiting no signs of unsteadiness.
After many shots of Paul, his
security men and the owner of Elite Limousines, the car company they
used, apparently arranging for a third car to appear at the back
entrance, the camera switches to the entrance to the Imperial Suite,
where the Princess and Dodi had spent the evening. At six minutes
past midnight they emerge.
Paul leads them and Kes Wingfield,
one of the security team, down a long corridor to the service lift,
which has its own camera. The Princess appears to be smiling and
happy with the arrangements. But then they have to endure that
seemingly endless wait in the service area Ė in reality little more
than seven minutes Ė as Paul and Mr Rees-Jones make numerous phone
calls, and hotel staff go about their business.
At last two bright headlights beam
down the street; the car has arrived. As if alerted, two paparazzi
across the street have moved to position themselves directly
opposite the service exit. As the Princess emerges she raises her
hand to cover her face.
They never reached their
destination. Within minutes Dodi and Paul were dead and she was
dying. There would be no more images of an icon.