Unlikely source raises doubts over Diana book
IF THE Daily Mirror reported the Second Coming, would anyone believe it? Probably not. There is a general view in polite society that the newspaper and its editor, Piers Morgan, are not entirely to be trusted.
This week, the Mirror has been serialising the new book by Paul Burrell, former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales. My impression is that many people are not taking its revelations completely seriously, particularly Mr Burrell’s claim that ten months before she died Diana predicted the circumstances of her demise. An allegation which might have rocked the nation had it first appeared in the Guardian or the Times, has had a limited effect.
Mr Burrell has not helped himself. He does not seem to be a very attractive person. Most incredible of all is his unveiling of the letter to him in which the Princess wrote that "this particular phase in my life is the most dangerous. - [name removed by the Daily Mirror on the advice of my learned friends] is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry". It is astonishing that Mr Burrell should have sat on this letter for six years without showing it to the authorities. This is an amazing dereliction of duty.
The letter, reprinted by the Daily Mirror, is in Diana’s hand, and looks genuine. Of course, just because she predicted the circumstances of her death, it does not follow that she was murdered. But it is a piece of evidence that would certainly be taken seriously by Hercule Poirot in a novel by Agatha Christie.
Why do we not take Diana’s letter more seriously? Partly, as I have said, because it appeared in the Daily Mirror, and was brought to our attention by Paul Burrell. And also because to most sensible people it seems so obvious that Diana died at the hands of a drunk who was driving insanely fast. Most of us hate conspiracy theories, particularly when they are embraced by such people as Mohamed al-Fayed, father of Dodi Fayed, who died in the crash. Over the years I have written several pieces scoffing at the bizarre band of people who insist that the princess was murdered.
But now I am not so sure. Isn’t it extraordinary that she foresaw almost exactly how she would die? And we have to concede that there are some oddities about her death which have never been properly explained.
For example, it has emerged that Henri Paul, the driver of the Mercedes, had accumulated 102,000 in 13 different bank accounts, although at the time of his death he was paid only 20,000 a year. Why were the CCTV cameras in the Alma Tunnel turned the wrong way on the night of 31 August? The mysterious Fiat Uno in the underpass, which most people believe was never traced, almost certainly belonged to a royal paparazzo called James Andanson.
The photographer strenuously denied that he had even been in Paris on the night in question, though the paint on the Uno matched traces on the wrecked Mercedes, which it appears to have clipped. Andanson committed suicide two years later. A month after his death, his offices in Paris were raided by three armed men in balaclavas, who shot a security guard in the foot and took away laptops, cameras and hard disks.
According to Mr Burrell - and here we have no corroboration - the Queen warned him there are "powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge". It is an idea which any free-born Briton is likely to find offensive. We don’t like to think there are shady figures doing illegal things on behalf of the state in a free democracy. But might it be true? Could Diana have been bumped off? Very possibly the oddities surrounding her death are explicable, and yet they have not been explained, partly because there has been no inquest.
The letter unveiled by Mr Burrell is bound to make anyone save the most boneheaded and smug wonder a little. I have not yet reached the point of believing that Diana, Princess of Wales, was murdered, but I don’t think we, or the broadsheet press, or the BBC should ignore evidence merely because it surfaces in the Daily Mirror.
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