Death of a Princess - Diana, Princess of Wales

Princess Diana
Princess Diana

I was driving a taxi the night the news came through about the death of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales.

I think it was a Saturday night, and the city was full of revellers. Everybody it seems was drinking.

I wasn't. I was as sober as the day I was born; likewise the other 4,000 odd cab drivers in the city. That is something that 20 years experience can tell you, no-one who drives for a living drinks before going on duty, or through their shift.

You hear about the odd one, but they are very few and far between. When your livelihood depends on your having a clean driving licence, you just don't do it.

Remember I said that, because it becomes important later on.

Dodi al Fayed
Dodi al Fayed

Anyway, there I was, merrily driving away in my black hack, the same type of taxis the London cabbies drive, picking people up and dropping them off, when a news flash came over the radio.

It said that Lady Diana, or Lady Di as she was affectionately known as in the UK, had been involved in a car crash just outside Paris, and that her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed had been killed.

What? That was shocking news and I immediately felt for Diana. This was her fella that she had loved and lost, and now he was dead.

I remember I had no passengers in the cab at the time. Still driving, heading back to town to see if anyone required my services, I probably drove past waving hands trying to flag me down. My concentration was elsewhere, listening out for more news.

About an hour later, the same news was repeated but with no updates, except by this time RTN had been speaking with witnesses who said they saw Lady Di walk away from the crash scene, and she seemed to be OK.

I was surprised how uptight I had been over news of the crash. Lady Di's appearance in every single copy of every daily newspaper we bought had become a standing joke in our house.

Whatever page Lady Di was on was relegated to the cat litter tray at the first available opportunity. Hey she was OK but her life had nothing in common with our lives, and we disliked having stories about her rammed down our throats all the time.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana

I put what was happening with the car crash out of my mind and got on with my job. Occasionally , on quieter spells, I fiddled about with the knob on the radio and tuned into other stations. Everyone was talking about the crash. Witnesses were interviewed. Diana was in hospital and expected to survive. Shame about her boyfriend.

It must have been around 4am when the news came over the radio that Lady Di had died. Now I was truly shocked and saddened. Earlier news reports had stated she was walking and expected to survive. Now she was dead. Just a young lass really.

I was stopped at traffic lights. A police van pulled alongside.

I rolled my window down and signalled to the officer nearest me to do the same. He did. "Lady Diana has died", I said.

The middle-aged rotund policeman looked shocked. "No", he said, "she's been in an accident but she's going to be OK".

I told him I'd tuned into Radio Clyde and they had announced her death. I saw him getting on his radio to call base just before the lights changed to green and I was heading back into town again, in a real daze.

The crashed Mercedes in which Diana was travelling
The crashed Mercedes in which Diana was travelling

The nightclubs were unloading. I was busy for a while. I kept the radio on. They had started playing funereal music which was dull and old-fashioned, and I can honestly say that before that night I did not know what funereal music was.

I hope I never hear it again. But left it on I did, because between intervals of music, there was talk of nothing else but the death of Lady Diana.

Revellers heading home after their night out were in floods of tears in the back of my cab. People were stunned.

This is the same people, who like me, complained daily that there was hardly any real news outside of the Royal marriage which we got to hear about all the time. We were fed up to the back teeth hearing about Lady Diana this...Lady Diana that.

But to hear she was dead felt like losing a family member. I can't explain it any better than that. We hated her, but we must have loved her too.

Flowers for Lady Di
Flowers for Lady Di

At the end of my shift there was talk with the other drivers about the rugby due to be played that day, and the big football game due to be played in the city either that day or the next.

"It'll be cancelled", I warned.

And it was. The football, the rugby, all big events cancelled while the country mourned.

Flowers were laid at George Square in the heart of the city of Glasgow. I even bought and laid some myself. There were so many flowers the square got roped off - the flowers piled high in all directions.

It was the same in all the cities of the UK, and in smaller townships countrywide.

The whole country went into a period of mourning such as I shall probably never see again in my lifetime.

Glasgow's George Square
Glasgow's George Square

Anyway, I digress...I was, and still am to a certain extent, an avid news watcher. When I went home that morning, I switched on the TV. It must have been 6am. BBC News24 were discussing nothing else. ITV were discussing nothing else.

Between first hearing the news that Lady Di had died, and now, it had been clarified by several people that the car in which she was travelling had entered a tunnel in Paris. Witnesses described how the car was not going that fast - maybe 60mph. Fast enough but not 'silly fast' on a freeway.

The car had apparently crashed in the tunnel. There was talk of another car chasing the Royal car, news reporters looking for a story. Lady Di and her entourage must have been well used to that scenario.

This woman was never off the news. She lived her whole life in front of news reporters.

Henri Paul, chauffeur
Henri Paul, chauffeur

All the TV channels talked of nothing else. It must have been a nightmare for the presenters, trying to find words to fill in gaps; to keep repeating what news they had; to try to make sense of it all while informing the nation.

I'd got home about 6am, and all the stations repeated everything I'd heard through the night, about how all those eyewitnesses saw Diana step out from the wreckage, about how the car was not going that fast when it entered the tunnel.

I was still in a state of shock. Tired yes, but I didn't want to miss anything so I kept watching even though everything was repeated ad infinitum.

It was around 7am when I noticed a change in the news reporting.

Suddenly, the car was travelling really fast. It was going at at least 100mph. Diana was unconscious when the ambulance crew reached her. The media were looking for someone to blame. The prime minister was interviewed. The Cabinet had awakened and the news changed.

History tells us now how the chauffeur Henri Paul, got the blame. They said he was drunk, yet CCTV footage showed the man acting completely normally just before he drove his clients away.

Professional drivers who work for a living, do not drink and drive.

He was dead, yet they said samples of his blood showed he was over the legal alcohol limit. I later asked a pathologist I had in the back of my taxi if it was possible to add alcohol to someone's body after death to make it look as if they were drunk, and he said yes.

It's a shame I didn't write this all down at the time, but I knew, because I was listening to all the news channels on both radio and TV ALL that night, that the story changed the next day.

All the reporters knew too. So did every othertaxi driver/policeman/nighthawk that was awake that night.

Is it any wonder there has always been talk of a conspiracy theory?

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Comments 38 comments

howcurecancer profile image

howcurecancer 5 years ago

Shocking!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

It was, wasn't it?


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Guess what, IzzyM? This Hub won the Daily Drawing prize for the final day of So You Think You Can Write Online! Well done! Even if this is a rather serious subject... ^_^;;


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

How lucky was that? Thanks a lot Simone :)


wavegirl22 profile image

wavegirl22 5 years ago from New York, NY

I remember the night .. the first place I read about it was on AOL back in the day when I dialed to get on line! Great article Izzy .. . thumbs up on the 'So you think you can write' contest. .this proves what a great writes IzzyM is ! You go girl :)


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks wavegirl,as an ex-AOLer myself, I don't even think I went online that night. No I didn't. Thanks for your kind comments :)


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

I can remember how I felt when I heard about Diana's death. It was shocking. She was a much admired and beloved woman. Great tribute.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

It was my recollection of that night. I may even have the times wrong but it was shocking, and I was very aware of the story subtly changing after the government of the day woke up and took control. We may never know the truth, but if you watch that BBC video at the bottom it brings you the breaking news of her death and if you listen you will hear the surprise in the newsreader's voice and a mention of how how injuries had seemed superficial - yet later they say she was unconscious the whole time.


Karen N profile image

Karen N 5 years ago from United States

Wow, this really brings back memories.

I was up with a fussy baby that night when they announced her death. Like a lot of people I've always liked Diana so much more than the other royals, it's just too bad that she didn't have a more happy life.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

It's inevitable that the hullabaloo of another Royal wedding would bring up memories of Princess Dianna and her tragic death. Your article is so interesting, and it brought back some of my own memories which are similar to yours of many conflicting reports at the time of the accident. Great hub!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for commenting Karen and Stephanie :) Yes, it was one of those tragic events when we can all remember what we were doing at the time, and not something we will easily forget.


Mamelody profile image

Mamelody 5 years ago

I remember I was cleaning my living room when the radio announcer said Diana had died. I thought it was a hoax so I brushed it off. An hour later my mum came home and was in a state of shock about Diana being killed in a car crash. I tuned into BBC world and there it was, no more Princess Di!

I wish she was here to see her son's marriage. She would have been the happiest mother in the world! Great hub.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks Mamelody :) Yes I imagine Diana was watching over her boy today.


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

I guess you never forget where you were and what was happening when you heard such awful news. I think there was a cover up too, the story changed so much between the time we heard of the crash, then everyone in it was "conveniently" gone. I was surprised William decided to wed in the cathedral where Diana's funeral was held, but perhaps it made him feel close to her and like she was near on his special day. I hope his marriage to Kate works well, she is older and is more prepared about what to expect. Still, the monarchy is rich and taxpayers should not have to pay for the wedding. Kate apparently had posters of William on her walls since in her early teens, so is an ambitious lady who had her eye on him from an early age. Let's hope it works to his advantage, he's had enough sorrow. As I watched today, somehow he seemed more innocent than she did.


Cheryl J. profile image

Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

Great hub. We are still mourning the loss of Princess Diana.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

I remember her funeral most of all - it was my son's 6th birthday and the day I had to make the worst decision - to get rid of one of my dogs (to another home) to make it okay for my other 3. I loved Diana and still do - wonderfully done and I still miss her. Thankfully, her intelligence and her wonderful spirit live on in her sons....especially William. Congrats on your win!!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A great hub to a great person. I am not one to show emotion when famous people are concerned, but this beautiful young lady was different for some reason.

Thank you for this tribute and here's to many years of hub sharing.

Take care

Eiddwen.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

@Jean,of course I was in the UK and it never occurred to me that people worldwide, in the States for example, would have been going about their daily business due to the time difference. There must be many people in the world who heard the story change. As for Kate having posters on her walls, who could blame her? I remember seeing photos of William when he was much younger and he was gorgeous! Suppose he still is to a certain extent, He really is a handsome Royal. Yes Kate's grandmother was a social climber and maybe Kate is too, but she seems to be a level headed young woman and in a much better position than Lady Di to take on the role.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

@akirchner, thanks for the congrats (just lucky!) but can you remember the day of the week Lady Di died? I wrote it was a Saturday night but on reflection I don't think it was. Maybe Thursday or Friday? You won't forget the date because of your son's birthday but the day?


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

@Cheryl and Eiddwen, thank you both for stopping by and remembering Princess Diana, who will always be beautiful to us.


KenWu profile image

KenWu 5 years ago from Malaysia

Thanks for sharing this, back some years ago, I did hear from articles that Princess Di was indeed murdered and not killed in the accident. There was a lot to hide!


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

A lot of people, myself included, still believe it was a plot involving MI5. She was going to marry a moslem which would have caused a constitutional crisis, with her being the mother of the future king who would also be head of the church of England.


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

Congratulations on your prize.

On learning of Diana's death we felt unbelievable shock at the violence of her death and the circumstances leading up to it. Even worse shock followed when the investigations began and nothing conclusive was ever proved. We live in strange times. Thanks for writing this.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks :) A lot of us still think there was some kind of cover-up, despite the findings of the official enquiry.


Bethany Culpepper 5 years ago

Sigh...I guess we'll never get over it. It was all so unbelievable. But, this weekend was uplifting.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Yeah it was. Poor Lady Di, poor William and Harry growing up without their mother.


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

While this is a great informative hub- Is it not now time to move on? Diana suddenly turned into a saint after her death. I'm personally waiting for the Daily Mail or BBC to run a TV program entitled 'What Diana would have thought of the Royal Wedding'


BethanRose profile image

BethanRose 5 years ago from South Wales

I wonder if the driver really was over the legal alcohol limit, or if it was set up. Interesting and great hub


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

@cycling fitness, I am sure you are right, but it's a time to remember too with her son getting married.

@BethanRose, it look like we will never know for sure now but I tend to think it highly unlikely that the chauffeur was drinking that night.


Ruby H Rose profile image

Ruby H Rose 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

Great article, conspiracy theory for sure.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Ummm...I think a huge majority of us think that!


THAT Mary Ann 5 years ago

Thanks for this fascinating and unique view of all these horrible events.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Thankyou for commenting :)


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

The world truly grieved at her passing. It's nice to remember great people like her. Btw, congratulations.


mohammadpate49 5 years ago

She was an amazing women who is going to be missed by so many for the good she did. I've seen there's a film being released about her death at Cannes Film Festival but I wish people would now just leave her be.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

Can't leave her be while there is still doubt over how or why she died, not in our lifetime anyway. Everyone has the right to justice, even after death.


lewisrh 5 years ago

I also remember that night, I was watchin a movie in the early hours and it went to break and never came back on. The story at that time had eyewitnesses saying they saw her leave the car with a head wound and she was crying.

The next day we were told she died in the car.

It always stayed with me


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 5 years ago from UK Author

So you wonder who was lying - the eyewitnesses or the people at the fatal accident enquiry.

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