Last weekend’s seizing on an accusation about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales by the Express was never going to be allowed to generate just one front page splash. And, with yesterday’s edition reduced to telling readers that the bank holiday weather might feature both sunshine and rain, there was clearly a need for something a little racier to bring in the punters.
And so it came to pass, with “Diana Death: The Two Mystery Cars”, telling that the Military Police are investigating the latest accusation, as if this means it’s rather more serious. Sadly, it means nothing of the sort: the claim of SAS involvement was made by a then serving soldier, those reporting it did so to his commanding officer, and so the MP are the ones who will take on the enquiry.
Readers are briefly told that Henri Paul may have been “set up” (he was not in a fit state to drive, something that has been established beyond doubt, except of course for the Express) before talking about two mystery vehicles, which were supposedly in the area of the crash at the time. And a photo is captioned “Diana turns to look back. Had she felt a bump from another car?” At the speed Paul was driving? No chance.
Then there are a number of witness accounts, but there is no need to go beyond the very first to put this one to bed. Someone staying in a hotel overlooking the entrance to the Pont de l’Alma underpass “heard the noise of an almighty crash followed immediately by the sound of skidding tyres and then immediately a further very loud crash”. Two vehicles, then? No, just the one.
The Mercedes being driven by Henri Paul – and remember, it was a heavier than standard model – had struck a support pillar in the underpass (first impact), then spun and struck the nearside wall (second impact). The initial impact, at an estimated speed of 105km/h (65mph) is what caused fatal injuries to three of the four occupants. So that’s the two crashes dealt with.
The witness quoted by the Express had actually seen nothing (which figures, as the crash happened inside the underpass), then returned to bed, but shortly afterwards heard more sounds, so looked out of the window “to see that a small dark vehicle had completed its turn into Rue Jean Goujon immediately followed by a larger white vehicle”. They were travelling close together, and moving very quickly.
So I examined my Paris street map, and found that it would be possible to approach the Rue Jean Goujon from five different roads, none of which is that which passes through the Pont de l’Alma underpass. And the Express’ first witness had heard the crash, returned to bed, and only later saw the two vehicles which readers are being expected to connect to the crash that killed Diana.
That’s desperate and lame even for the Express. Another Benchmark of Excellence!