On this day: Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 31 August

Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed died on this day in 1997 after the car they were in crashed in a Paris road tunnel. Picture: Getty
Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed died on this day in 1997 after the car they were in crashed in a Paris road tunnel. Picture: Getty
Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed died on this day in 1997 after the car they were in crashed in a Paris road tunnel. Picture: Getty

National days of Malaysia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

1422: Henry VI of England acceded to the throne at the age of nine months.

1538: Pope Paul II excommunicated King Henry VIII of England.

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1751: British troops, under Sir Robert Clive, occupied Arcot, India.

1836: HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, anchored in Postage Praia, Cape Verde Islands.

1887: Thomasd Edison patented the kinetoscope to produce moving pictures.

1888: The first victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary “Polly” Nichols, a prostitute, was found dead in Whitechapel, London.

1897: General Kitchener’s forces occupied Berber, north of Khartoum.

1900: Coca-Cola went on sale in Britain.

1907: Britain, Russia and France formed the Triple Alliance.

1908: WG Grace retired from first-class cricket at the age of 60. He scored 54,896 runs (126 centuries), took 2,879 wickets and held 871 catches over 43 years.

1920: A radio station in Detroit became the first to broadcast a news programme.

1923: Mussolini’s troops occupied Corfu.

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1939: Wartime evacuation of women and children from London to country areas began.

1957: Malaysia (formerly Malaya) gained independence from Britain.

1962: Chris Bonington and Ian Clough became the first Britons to conquer the north face of the Eiger.

1962: Trinidad & Tobago gained independence from Britain.

1963: The “hot line” linking the Kremlin with the White House went into service.

1968: An earthquake measuring 7.8 killed 12,000 people in northern Iran.

1976: George Harrison was found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” after lifting the melody from the Chiffons’ He’s So Fine for his first solo recording, My Sweet Lord, in 1971. He was ordered to pay £1,599,987.

1977: Ian Smith, espousing recial segregation, won the Rhodesian general election with 80 per cent of the overwhelmingly white population vote.

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1980: The Solidarity trade union movement was recognised by the Polish government as the Gdansk Agreement was signed.

1982: Polish riot police fired tear-gas at thousands celebrating second anniversary of free trade union Solidarity in Warsaw, Gdansk and other cities.

1983: Soviet plane shot down a South Korean airliner. All 269 aboard were killed.

1986: A Russian cargo ship collided with the cruise ship Admiral Nakhimov in Tsemes Bay, near Novorossiysk. The latter sank with the loss of 423 lives.

1990: President FW de Klerk announced that membership of South Africa’s National Party was to be open to all races.

1990: East and West Germany signed a unification treaty, joining their legal and political systems.

1994: The IRA announced a “complete cessation of military operations”.

1994: World chess champion Gary Kasparov was defeated by a computer.

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1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, 36, and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, died in a high-speed car crash in Paris.

1999: A LAPA Boeing 737-200 crashed during take-off from Jorge Newbury Airport in Buenos Aires, killing 65, including two people on the ground.

2005: A stampede on Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad killed 1,199 people.

2006: Stolen on 22 August, 2004, Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream was recovered by Norwegian police.

2011: The town of Wootton Bassett held a service to mark the end of military repatriations there. Since 2007, the bodies of 345 service personnel had passed through the Wiltshire town.


Sir Van Morrison OBE, singer and songwriter, 70; Richard Gere, actor, 66; Martin Bell OBE, broadcaster, MP 1997-2001, 77; Todd Carty, actor, 52; Dame Elizabeth Forgan DBE, writer, broadcaster, 71; Padraig Harrington, golfer, 44; Edwin Moses, Olympic athlete, 60; Charl Schwartzel, golfer, 31; Glenn Tilbrook, musician (Squeeze), 58; Chris Tucker, actor/comedian, 44; Derek Whyte, Scottish retired footballer, 47; Simon Neil, Scottish musician (Biffy Clyro) 36.


Births: AD12 Caligula, Roman emperor; 1774 Charles Turner, engraver; 1870 Maria Montessori, educationist; 1913 Prof Sir Bernard Lovell OBE, astronomer; 1918 Alan Jay Lerner, songwriter.

Deaths: 1422 King Henry V of England; 1688 John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress; 1867 Charles-Pierre Baudelaire, writer and poet; 1963 Georges Braque, painter; 1969 Rocky Marciano, boxer; 1973 John Ford, film director; 1986 Henry Moore, abstract sculptor.