Princess Diana’s Butler Made A Candid Confession About Harry’s Marriage To Meghan

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As the former butler to Princess Diana, Paul Burrell knows what goes on behind closed doors in royal quarters. And since the death of his beloved boss, he has spilled more than a few secrets about Diana and her private life – perhaps to the regret of her relatives. Then, in 2020, Burrell turned his attention to the late princess’ son Harry. And as it turned out, he had quite the confession to make about the Duke of Sussex’s marriage to Meghan.

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Burrell’s affiliation with the royal family goes back decades, too. Following a trip to the historic Buckingham Palace as a youngster, the Englishman developed a real and abiding interest in the British monarchy. In time, this would lead to a highly prestigious job: footman to Queen Elizabeth II.

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It was Burrell’s second position within the royal family that made him a household name, though. Up until Diana’s untimely death in 1997, he was employed for a decade as the princess’ butler – a role that he has claimed made him close to his boss. In fact, Burrell has reportedly referred to himself as “the only man [that Diana] ever trusted.”

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But since being relieved of his duties, Burrell has become a controversial figure in his own right – and has often made tabloid headlines. For example, in 2001 his home in the English county of Cheshire was scoured by police following allegations of theft. Specifically, it was claimed that Burrell had stolen various items that had belonged to either Diana or her two sons. Rather incredibly, though, the Queen came to the former butler’s rescue.

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Yes, while Burrell was initially up against charges of theft, his subsequent trial sensationally collapsed when none other than the Queen spoke up in his defense. Apparently, she’d given her former employee permission to store the 310 items in question. And as a result of this intervention, all legal proceedings against Burrell were dropped.

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But the aforementioned court case wasn’t the last time that Burrell’s conduct would be called into question. During a 2008 investigation into the death of Diana, you see, the erstwhile member of the royal household was found to have clandestinely duplicated correspondence between the princess and others. Burrell argued, however, that he had done so because of the papers’ “historical importance.”

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Then there’s Burrell’s private life, which has also come under some scrutiny. For instance, in 2016 it was revealed that he and his wife Maria had gone their separate ways after 32 years of marriage. Then, a year later, the ex-butler walked down the aisle for a second time with partner Graham Cooper. According to an insider, Burrell had once confided in Diana that he was gay.

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However, in January 2020 Burrell denied this assertion during a chat with OK! magazine. “Diana and I never discussed my sexuality at length, but it was a known thing between us,” he said, adding, “Let’s face it: I did great flower arrangements, chose her outfits and gave her advice. All the clues were there, and she was a clever lady.”

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And it’s fair to say that Burrell has courted the limelight – not least by penning several books about his experiences with the royal family and Diana in particular. He has also become a reality TV regular, appearing on shows such as Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! as well as serving as a judge on Australian Princess.

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Then, in 2018, Burrell was able to capitalize on his royal experiences once more when, in the days leading up to Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, he was appointed as a royal correspondent on British breakfast TV show Lorraine. Apparently, his previous link to the groom’s mother was instrumental in him landing the job.

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And Burrell pretty much hasn’t stopped giving his opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex since. In an interview for 2019 British documentary Kate v Meghan: Princesses at War?, the former royal aide described the Suits star as a “strong and independent woman.” Yet he still had doubts as to whether someone from such a humble background would be able to adapt to her new lavish surroundings.

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“Meghan has married into the most traditional family in the country: the royal family,” Burrell explained. He then began drawing comparisons with the woman he served for a full decade, adding, “How is she going to cope? Princess Diana was brought up in a house that was as big as Buckingham Palace, and even she was lost.”

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Burrell additionally suggested that Meghan would find herself in trouble if she didn’t conform to royal protocol, saying, “Buckingham Palace is a minefield for any person going in there for the first time. People set traps, [and] they weren’t very kind to this young girl coming into this world. Who would want to be part of that family?”

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But to help Meghan cope with the trials and tribulations of being a royal, Burrell offered some words of wisdom. He recommended that she become acquainted with the member of the family who apparently matters the most: Harry’s grandmother, the Queen. Diana’s alleged confidante also advised Meghan to keep as close as possible to her new husband.

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And Burrell has continued to comment on the royal couple since. On a May 2019 edition of Good Morning Britain, for instance, he was asked to give his opinion about the birth of Harry and Meghan’s son Archie. Then, while responding to a question about how Diana would have received her fourth grandchild, he replied, “She’d be in her element, wouldn’t she? [Meghan’s mother] Doria would not get a look in. She’d have been thrilled to bits.”

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Burrell was also invited onto the Good Morning Britain set in October 2019 following the British TV premiere of Harry and Meghan: An African Journey. In the documentary, the Duke of Sussex reveals why he feels the need to be so protective of his family, explaining, “My mom clearly taught me a certain set of values of which I will always try and uphold – despite the role and the job that sometimes that entails, if you know what I mean.”

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Harry continued, “Everything that [Diana] went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day. And that’s not me being paranoid; that’s just me not wanting a repeat of the past. And if anybody else knew what I knew – be it a father, be it a husband, be it anyone – you’d probably be doing exactly what I’m doing as well.”

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Burrell responded to the documentary by telling the hosts of Good Morning Britain, “I knew [Harry], he was devastated, and to walk behind his mother’s coffin in front of the world was just dreadful. And that’s had an amazing impact on him. He does feel that the media hounded [Diana] to her death.”

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Given Burrell’s willingness to make such provocative statements, then, it’s perhaps no surprise that he was invited onto Good Morning Britain again in January 2020. Famously, that month Harry and Meghan had revealed that they would be relinquishing their positions as senior royals. And after the former butler weighed in on the drama, he once again drew parallels between Meghan and Diana.

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First, Burrell claimed that his late boss would have given her blessing to the couple’s controversial decision. He told viewers, “As I’ve seen this unfold in America, I’ve been thinking of [Diana]. She would have given the boys advice and said to them, ‘Marry for love,’ which they have, ‘Be respectful and kind to your wife,’ which they both have, but [also] ‘Be happy.’”

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Speaking from his Florida home, Burrell then added, “Diana wasn’t [happy], and clearly Meghan and Harry aren’t [either] in the environment they’re in – being stifled by the royal household. Diana found that impossible, marrying the whole family.” He also claimed that both Diana and the Duchess of Sussex weren’t afraid to cut ties with others when necessary.

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And Burrell went on to suggest that Diana had had ambitions to escape her homeland, too. The former royal aide said, “She had the plans for that on her sitting room floor to buy a home in Malibu when she went away to the Mediterranean. She was going to buy that property, so is it any surprise Harry is following his wife’s dreams and [in] his mom’s footsteps?”

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Yet Burrell did reserve a measure of sympathy for another of his former employers. He said, “I feel very sorry for the Queen, of course… 93 years old. Our monarch has suffered greatly over the years and seen a lot happen to her family, and she’s moved with the times.”

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Burrell also expressed concern about the prince’s relationship with his older sibling, adding, “I do feel sorry for William and Harry not having that bond which they once had. Obviously, when their mother died, they were cemented together and inseparable. I feel sorry for that, and their mother would be sad, too.”

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But when Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan questioned Harry and Meghan’s work ethic, Burrell seemingly took the duchess’ side. He countered, “It’s very difficult for the outside world to understand what it’s like to live in a palace. You don’t just marry one person; you marry the whole family. [Meghan] had no idea what she was getting herself into; nobody can.”

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Burrell then referred to a note that he claimed to have received from Diana, saying, “I saw recently a letter which [the princess] wrote to me. She wrote to me about her future, and she said, ‘I would look up and live and laugh and love.’ And I think they’re poignant words to send to Harry and Meghan.”

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So, in Burrell’s opinion, would Diana have approved of her youngest son’s union with the Suits actress? Well, in an April 2020 conversation with CheshireLive, the former butler suggested as much, saying, “Princess Diana would have wanted her sons to be happy and would have supported them unconditionally.”

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Burrell continued, “[With Harry] being sixth in line to the throne, it is unlikely that he will become king. Why not let [he and Meghan] have a happy life? And with the Queen’s approval, there is no reason why they shouldn’t achieve their dreams and be totally independent.”

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In an interview with Closer the following month, Burrell even suggested that Harry’s wife and his late mom had things in common. He said, “Harry went for and married Meghan because she’s like Diana. Both [are] women who would always stand up for what they believe in and wouldn’t be pushovers.” Nonetheless, Burrell claimed that the similarities between Meghan and Diana could have caused some friction if the princess were still alive.

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“I think, possibly, [Diana and Meghan] would have clashed,” Burrell theorized. “I imagine it would have been two strong, independent women with different views on things. It would have been a battle between Meghan’s way and Diana’s way.” He admitted, however, that there are several ways in which the pair differ.

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Burrell conceded, “I think the main difference between them is that Meghan has a game plan, whereas Diana was young and naïve.” And while the princess may appear to have used the media to her advantage during her lifetime, her ex-employee hinted that it wasn’t for the same reasons as her future daughter-in-law.

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“Diana did the book with Andrew Morton and courted the press over the years because she didn’t have a voice,” Burrell explained. “And her strong-mindedness meant [that] she cared, and she felt the people of the country had a right to know what had gone on behind closed doors. You could say Meghan does too – but I think her courting of the press is more for her career.”

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Yes, Burrell seems to believe that the Duchess of Sussex is far more at ease with selling her public image than her late mother-in-law had been. He added, “In years to come, we’ll see [Meghan] on red carpets, with A-list friends [and] in films, perhaps. Diana wasn’t like that; she wasn’t interested in self-promotion.”

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And it’s Meghan’s relationship with the press that appears to be a particular concern for Burrell. While talking to CheshireLive, for example, the ex-royal aide said that the duchess and her husband should avoid all talk about being stalked. He added, “They do need to accept being photographed by the paparazzi. They can’t have an entirely private life.”

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Burrell had even previously voiced his distaste for Meghan’s alleged love of the limelight in a 2019 piece for The Sun. There, he wrote, “The lines are getting blurred between celebrity and royal. There is a clear line between the two, and Meghan doesn’t know the difference. The Queen has always said, ‘We are not celebrities. To be royal is something very different.’”

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“[Meghan] may say she doesn’t have to toe the line, but she has a royal title now, and you have to give up a lot to be a member of the royal family,” Burrell continued. “She can’t have her cake and eat it. I think we all have to wait with bated breath and watch the way this one is going to progress. It is certainly a fiery, tempestuous comet streaking through the royal family.”

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Unlike much of the press, though, Burrell refuses to believe that the Duchess of Sussex is pulling all the strings in her relationship. While in conversation with OK!, he instead asserted, “Meghan’s an independent woman who has her own mind. It may look as if she’s manipulating Harry, but she’s not! I have no doubt they discuss everything, and they’ll have another baby very soon.”

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Burrell would court the press himself again in May that year by unveiling what he claimed to be a previously unpublished letter from Princess Diana. In the correspondence – apparently penned in 1992 – the royal remarks on a visit to Mother Teresa’s Calcutta convent home. And although the princess didn’t get to meet the saint herself, Diana still apparently felt that the trip was hugely beneficial.

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In the handwritten note to Burrell, Diana revealed, “Today, something really profound touched my life. I went to Mother Teresa’s home and found the direction I’ve been searching for all these years. The sisters sang to me on arrival – a deeply spiritual experience – and I soared to such great heights in my spirit.”

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So, what else is Burrell up to these days now that he’s no longer mixing in royal circles? Well, in 2019 he closed the floristry business he’d owned for almost 18 years in order to go traveling with husband Cooper. And of the planned jaunt, he told the Daily Mail, “I want to take [Cooper] to places I’ve been with the Queen and the princess and say ‘I remember walking on this spot with the Queen on the Great Wall of China.’”

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But Burrell isn’t the only one to reveal fresh insights about Diana. On the night of the fateful crash that claimed the princess’ life, firefighters were at the accident scene, hoping to somehow rescue the royal and her fellow passengers. And as a member of the emergency crew worked, he heard what are likely to have been Diana’s final words – ones he eventually shared years after her death.

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When Xavier Gourmelon attends a car crash inside a Paris tunnel, he is initially none the wiser as to who is involved. Then, as the firefighter lifts a blonde woman from the rear of the wreckage, she pulls him a little closer. Maybe she wants to speak to him. But as Princess Diana talks to the man trying to save her, Gourmelon has no idea that these will be the last words she ever utters.

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Ten firefighters, including Gourmelon, had raced to the scene in the Pont d’Alma underpass, and the Mercedes-Benz W140 that they had found upon arrival appeared almost completely destroyed from the front. Tragically, one of the men inside seemed as though he had already passed away, too. So, Gourmelon worked quickly to figure out whom he could actually help, and the blonde woman seemed to be his best bet.

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Given the woman’s relatively stable condition while she had been in the tunnel, then, Gourmelon was stunned when he later found out that she had died in hospital. That realization was made all the worse when he learned that the individual in question also happened to be none other than Princess Diana. And unbeknown to others, the Paris firefighter chose to keep her dying words to himself for a whole two decades.

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Way before Diana’s sad end, though, she had grown up as part of the British aristocracy and was raised near the royal estate of Sandringham. Then, after failing to excel at school, the distant cousin of Winston Churchill found her way with menial jobs. But bigger things soon beckoned for the fresh-faced young woman, and ultimately her life would end up changing forever.

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Famously, Diana caught the eye of her sister Sarah’s boyfriend, Charles, Prince of Wales, while she was only a teenager. And before long, she and the heir to the British throne were an item. In 1981 the two then married in a glittering ceremony, with hundreds of millions tuning in worldwide to watch on television.

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Now Diana, Princess of Wales, the world should have been the newlywed’s oyster – especially when she later discovered that she was expecting a baby. But there was already darkness in Diana’s life. Owing to feelings of inadequacy, she cast herself down some stairs while pregnant. The paparazzi had begun to plague her, too, with snappers even photographing her in a bikini while she was with child. And further heartache was still to come.

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Yes, sadly, what may have seemed to have been a fairy tale union was apparently miserable behind the scenes. Both the prince and princess allegedly had affairs, while Diana suffered from increasing bouts of mental illness and a battle against an eating disorder. Reportedly, the royal felt pushed out of her marriage by Camilla Parker-Bowles, with whom Charles had resumed a long-standing liaison.

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Eventually, in 1992, the royal couple separated, and divorce followed in 1996. Worse still, the split had largely led to isolation for Diana, who’d apparently found confidantes hard to hang onto. A Daily Mail journalist claimed, for example, that she had had no more than five close friends at the time she died. Thankfully for Diana, though, her romantic life thrived even after the end of her marriage to Charles.

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And it’s been said that the young and attractive princess had many suitors. While still married, she had reportedly enjoyed flings with men such as bodyguard Paul Manakee and dashing cavalryman James Hewitt. Apparently, she had also had to end a relationship with car dealer James Gilbey after tapes surfaced that revealed he called her “Squidgy.” As you can guess, the press had a field day with that particular story.

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But it seemed that Diana had found happiness when she hooked up with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Their romance was conducted strictly in secret, as Diana sought a life away from the glare of publicity. In fact, the princess apparently told friends that she had never met anyone like Khan. Remarkably, she had first spotted the doctor when visiting London’s Royal Brompton Hospital with a friend.

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Furthermore, according to Vanity Fair, Khan and Diana’s relationship even progressed to the point where marriage was on the cards. But while Diana allegedly tried to convince Khan to have a secret wedding, he is said to have dismissed the idea. Instead, he apparently suggested that the two relocate to Pakistan, where the press would not interfere in their affairs – and Diana supposedly gave the idea serious thought.

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In addition, Diana reportedly confided in her friend – and now Pakistan prime minister – Imran Khan about her feelings for the surgeon. Ultimately, though, the romance began to falter. And despite that potential disappointment, Diana continued with her engagements, gracing the ballet and visiting Mother Teresa before appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair in July 1997.

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That same month, Diana accepted an invitation to St. Tropez, France, to holiday with billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. She also took her boys, Princes William and Harry, on the trip, with the royals all staying in the businessman’s villa. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s said to be there that Diana’s romance with Al-Fayed’s son Dodi began.

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Yet even while she was on vacation, the princess had been harassed by photographers, who had captured snaps of her on a jet ski. At an unscheduled press briefing, then, Diana had told the assembled reporters that she would shock them with the next thing she did. Unfortunately, those words would turn out to be darkly prophetic.

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Diana was actually already familiar with Dodi before the St. Tropez trip, as both had previously run with the same crowd. Dodi was Al-Fayed’s eldest son and somewhat inevitably had been raised in the lap of luxury as one of the billionaire’s offspring. Even so, he had managed to carve out his own career as a film producer – most notably earning credits on Chariots of Fire and Hook.

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So, on her return to London, Diana ended her affair with Khan, as the surgeon would later tell police. He immediately suspected that she had someone new in her life, too – perhaps from the Al-Fayed family’s entourage. And as Khan didn’t think highly of the Egyptian billionaire, he let the princess know that he felt the relationship would bring her harm.

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Nevertheless, Dodi was apparently smitten with Diana – even though he was already engaged. And seemingly to make his intentions clear, the business mogul’s son allegedly gave the royal a bunch of expensive presents, including a roomful of flowers, some tropical fruit and a Cartier watch. In any case, he would finally see his affections returned when he and the princess began a relationship.

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Still, opinions vary about how strong Diana and Dodi’s romance had been in the late summer of 1997. According to Vanity Fair, for instance, Dodi had planned to give the princess a ring. Apparently, though, Diana told friend Rosa Monckton that she would be wearing the item of jewelry on her right hand. To add to that, Monckton thought that Diana only wanted to make Khan jealous. Dodi’s father, by contrast, believed that the ring was intended to mark the couple’s engagement.

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Whatever the truth of the matter, though, Diana and Dodi obviously enjoyed each other’s company. And at the end of July, the pair decided to jet off together to Sardinia for a cruise – although yet again the paparazzi weren’t far behind. Then, in August 1997, while Diana attended an anti-landmine event in Bosnia, photos of the pair cuddling on Dodi’s yacht were published.

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And towards the end of the month, the pair were in France once more – this time in Paris, where they took up residence at the Hôtel Ritz. According to a 2019 report by the Daily Mirror, Diana stayed in their suite while Dodi went off to a jeweler to acquire the ring that the princess was expecting. Then, during the evening of August 30, 1997, they planned to eat out at the fancy Benoit restaurant.

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The pair changed their plans, however, after being followed by up to 30 photographers on the way to dinner. Returning to the Ritz, they therefore decided to eat at the fabled hotel’s L’Espadon restaurant instead. But on sitting down, Dodi had fears that some of the guests were also paparazzi, leaving him and Diana with no option but to head back to their room.

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Then, once they’d finished dinner, the couple decided that they would spend the night at Dodi’s plush apartment by the Champs-Élysées. Even so, they faced a problem: they had already been followed from the moment that they had left the hotel earlier that night. Diana and Dodi were pretty sure, too, that photographers were still lying in wait for them. Ultimately, then, a somewhat elaborate scheme was cooked up.

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In essence, it was planned that deputy head of hotel security, Henri Paul, would drive the couple – despite it being his night off. Paul would leave from the back of the hotel with Dodi, Diana and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones all in tow, while two decoy vehicles would exit from the front. At this point, it was the early morning of August 31, 1997.

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So, Paul shot off into the night, but as the photographers got wind of what was going on, they followed the Mercedes. An inquest later heard that paparazzi had tried to “block” Paul to slow him down – although ultimately to no avail. Instead, the limo continued on its journey, traveling at around 65 mph before tragedy befell its passengers.

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Then, as the Mercedes blazed through the road tunnel under Pont d’Alma, Paul lost control of the car. And since no photographer was apparently close enough to have caused this, the inquest would put the lapse down to Paul – who had drunk enough alcohol to put him three times over the legal limit for driving.

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With force, the car went on to plow into a pillar of the central reservation. And the crash was vicious and deadly, killing Paul straight away. Even despite the horrific wreckage, though, the paparazzi reportedly did little for the stricken passengers – instead choosing to photograph the smashed vehicle. Fortunately, someone did at least call the emergency services, and a team of firefighters subsequently rushed out from the nearby Malar station.

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The rescuers were headed by Gourmelon – the duty officer for that night. And in 2017 he would tell The Sun exactly what he and his crew had found. Gourmelon explained, “The car was in a mess, and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive.”

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Gourmelon continued, “For me, this was simply a banal traffic accident – one of many that emergency services have to deal with – and it was the usual causes: speed and a drunk driver.” And straight away, it was apparent that Paul was beyond help. Gourmelon added to The Sun, “When I got to the car, I could see the driver was already dead, and there was nothing that could be done for him.”

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Sadly, things were not much better for Dodi in the back of the limo. He had suffered a heart attack while still inside, with a paramedic calling his time of death once he’d been lifted out. But although Rees-Jones was also badly injured, he would thankfully survive the accident.

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And even in grave peril, the bodyguard’s main concern was apparently his princess. Yes, Rees-Jones is said to have repeatedly asked after Diana despite the fact that the firefighters needed him to stay composed. Finally, Gourmelon told him that none of the rescuers knew any English, and he should try to be still.

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In the meantime, Gourmelon attended to Diana, whom he could identify only as a mystery “blonde woman.” Initially, in fact, he felt that she should be fine, given that she remained conscious with open eyes. Diana, who was lying on the floor in the back, was even able to make some movements – albeit small ones. Regardless of her state, however, it was time to get her out.

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So, Gourmelon fed the princess oxygen and gripped her hand as he prepared to release her from the limo. And all the while, he had had no clue about who she was, as he would later explain to The Sun. Gourmelon revealed, “It was only when she had been put into the ambulance that one of the paramedics told me it was [Princess Diana].” Plus, in conversation with the newspaper, the firefighter also revealed what Diana had said to him at the time.

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Yes, as Gourmelon tended to her, Diana apparently spoke a few words – perhaps the last sentence that the princess would ever say. Stunned in the chaos of the wrecked limo, she purportedly asked her rescuer, “My God, what’s happened?” And while Gourmelon did not say whether he had ever responded to her question, he did tell The Sun what happened next.

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Gourmelon went on, “I gave [Diana] some oxygen, and my team and I stayed by her side as she was taken out of the car. It was very quick because we didn’t have to cut any of the wreckage.” Tragically, though, as the princess was laid on a stretcher, she suffered a heart attack.

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So, Gourmelon immediately gave Diana aid, and this seemed at first to work. He told The Sun, “I massaged her heart, and a few seconds later she started breathing again. It was a relief, of course, because as a first responder you want to save lives – and that’s what I thought I had done.”

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Indeed, Gourmelon had every reason to believe that the princess would pull through. He could not see any blood on her person, for one, while the only injury that he could spot – that one of her shoulders had been hurt – didn’t appear to be serious. To begin with, then, Gourmelon may have thought that he and his team had successfully kept Diana from further harm.

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And as the firefighters shifted Diana into the ambulance, Gourmelon was optimistic about her chances, later telling The Sun, “To be honest, I thought she would live.” But it wouldn’t be long after the emergency vehicle had powered off towards Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital that the Frenchman received some shocking news.

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Diana had arrived at the hospital not long after two in the morning and was subsequently rushed into surgery. But although medics had battled hard to keep her alive, their struggle ultimately ended in failure. The princess passed away, her injuries – including a burst blood vessel close to her heart – invisible but extensive. And the night hadn’t ended yet for Gourmelon.

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You see, following the rescue attempt, the lead firefighter had phoned his wife to share what had gone on. He told The Sun, “[My wife] was asleep, and I told her about the accident and Princess Diana. I said that she had suffered a cardiac arrest, but I’d managed to revive her.” Tragically, though, at around 04:00 a.m., the princess was dead.

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Gourmelon did not talk about that fateful August night for two decades – until he had left the fire service, in fact. And the memories were apparently still strong even years on. He said to The Sun, “I can still picture the whole scene. It’s something I’ll never forget and that I always think about at this time of year.”

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