Friday, June 17, 2005

Di, accident or assassination??

May you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
and you whispered to those in pain.

Sir Elton John ' Candle in the Wind'
At Diana's funeral

On August 30, 1997, Lady Diana Francis Spencer, better known as Princess Diana died in a fatal road accident shortly after midnight in a tunnel along the Seine River at the Pont de l'Alma bridge less than half a mile from the Eiffel Tower. Her lover Dodi Al Fayed -- son and heir -- of the billionarie Mohammad Al Fayed, owner of London's posh Harrod's chain and Fayed's chauffeur Henri Paul died with her.

Although the British royalty and much of world media quickly passed the death as a mere accident, I always, like many others had my share of doubts. I never fancied a conspiracy theory. The suspense was always there. Her death was squarely put on Paparazi -- the commercial photographers who constantly tailed Diana -- and were apparently following her car on motorcycles that fateful night.

However, just beneath the apparent creamy obviousness, there lay a lot of royal scum. First, Di was proving to be a a huge embarrassment to the Bristish crown. She confessed of her affair with James Hewitt, her fitness instructor much to the chagrin of the establishment, which felt that she was giving a bad name to the Royal palace. There were many of them -- Philip Dunne, Stephen Twig...the massaeur, Cristopher walley, Hasnat Khan. I think she was love-lorn. Nodoubt this was adultery but Charles was also responsible for it in a major way.

It is an open secret that Diana never got along very well with her hubby, the future King of England -- Charles, Prince Charles. Well, Charles, is at best a stony-faced pampered blue-blooded good-for-nothing. And Charles' extra-marital flings were always famed. His clandestine affair with Camila continued well into his fairytale marriage with Diana. Diana once famously remarked in an interview on the BBC programme Panorama that " there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded". She was clearly refering to Camila parker Bowles, who has since married Charles and now holds the rather corny sorbiquet of Dutchess of Cornwall (Eh..the royals, Do we really care about their titles).

Diana was an eternal romantic and a rebel. Her open criticism of the palace intrigues and her ex-husband -- they seperated on December 9, 1992 -- drew flak from many royal sympathisers. As Diana's confidence grew, so did her sense of style. She was a photographer's dream; tall, slender and beautiful. Her hairstyle was much copied and she rapidly became the most photographed woman on the planet. Her popularity soared to the ranks of superstardom. The general public adored her and even famous people idolised her. Her fans included Wayne Sleep and Pavarotti. She did an incredible amount of work for AIDS patients and landmine affected children of the world. The image of her walking through a cleared area of a minefield in Angola with a visor covering her face adorned every newspaper. The fact that she was wearing a simple blouse and jeans gave the image depth. Diana was not Her Royal Highness (HRH) anymore but she already had a royal spot in the hearts of millions of her fans around the globe.

Around this time, Di came close to Imad Al-fayed (more famously know as Harrod's heir, Dodi). She spent time in the company of Dodi. Diana did not seem to mind being photographed with him. It was known Dodi spent £50,000 on a 'friendship ring' when they returned to the Ritz Hotel in Paris on their way home to Britain. This was 1997.

I think it was about time when the Royalty and British intelligence agencies started getting worried about the whole affair. Mohamed al-Fayed -- Dodi'd father -- is a highly controversial Egyptian-born tycoon who lives in London and owns, among other properties, the exclusive Harrods department stores. He has been embroiled in the shady side of British politics and, despite his persistent efforts to win British nationality, has failed to do so. Mohamed Al-Fayed had been friends with Diana's father, the late Earl Spencer.

Other explanations reflect Dodi's Islamic faith. Diana had to be killed because the British government could not accept the mother of the future king involved with a Muslim Arab; or marrying him; or converting to Islam; or giving birth to a Muslim son.

In 2004, CBS showed pictures of the crash scene showing an intact rear side and an intact centre section of the Mercedes, including one of a unbloodied Diana with no outward injuries, crouched on the rear floor of the vehicle with her back to the right passenger seat - the right rear car door is completely opened. These pictures caused uproar in the UK, and spurred a lawsuit by Mohammed Al-Fayed.

Speculations that Princess Diana's death may be more than an accident have gained momentum, after recent discoveries -- June 2005 -- revealed that her chauffeur reportedly received mystery payments amounting to 142,000 dollars, just weeks before she died in the car he was driving.

British detectives investigating the tragedy have fuelled speculation that Paul was being paid by British secret service agents, by revealing the staggering sums he received from British banks just before the fatal accident.
Financial investigators have also revealed Paul had staggering amounts of money in 13 bank accounts around the world, despite earning just 38,000 pounds, a year as a driver for Paris' Ritz hotel. Money was drafted over to Paul from accounts in England. As far as the investigation is concerned, this is a crucial breakthrough.

We might never know the truth. Or we may...Three decades from now. History channel may reveal it on a Saturday night exclusive. God only knows.
I wish Diana all peace in the afterworld!

Sameer Bhat

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