| Princess Diana
London, Oct. 19: Patricia Cornwell, the world’s best-selling living crime writer, has uncovered new evidence during a six-month investigation into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The author, who is understood to have gained access to officials directly involved in the autopsy on the Princess’ body, believes that the new material will “lay some rumours and errors to rest”. It is believed that she has been able to disprove misguided speculation that the Princess was pregnant with her third child when she died.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Cornwell said that her inquiries had been “especially painful” and had left her with a respect and fondness for the Princess of Wales. “My high opinion of Princess Diana is, if anything, only higher after all this. I’m sorry I never met her, so very sorry.”
The Princess of Wales died six years ago in a car crash in Paris which also claimed the lives of Dodi Fayed, her boyfriend, and Henri Paul, their driver. Trevor Rees-Jones, Fayed’s bodyguard, was the only survivor of the crash in the Alma tunnel in the early hours of August 31, 1997.
Cornwell’s findings will be broadcast in the US on ABC’s Prime Time Thursday slot on October 30. It will be shown before the long-awaited inquest into the Princess’ death.
The inquest is due to be held in Britain but Michael Burgess, the coroner for the Royal Household, has not yet set a date for it. Herve Stephan, the French judge who conducted an investigation into the crash, has, however, blamed Paul, the driver, saying that alcohol, prescription drugs and the high speed of the vehicle had all played a role.
The writer made her name with her novels, but has also earned a reputation for her investigations into real-life crimes. Her findings have sometimes been controversial: two years ago she became “100 per cent” certain Walter Sickert, Victorian artist, was serial kiler, Jack the Ripper.
In America, where she was born in Miami, she is known as the “high priestess of crime” and her novels — full of serial killers and gruesome autopsies — have earned her an estimated $100 million.
Cornwell, who spent several weeks in Britain last month pursuing her latest inquiries, refused to disclose whom she interviewed about the Princess’ death, or the full details of her findings. She did, however, give an insight into one of her discoveries: “Forensic scientists have indicated that Henri Paul never even hit the brakes (before the car crashed),” she said.
The programme is likely to address questions about whether the Princess of Wales received the best possible medical care after the crash and whether her life could have been saved.
Mohamed Fayed, the Egyptian owner of Harrods and the father of Dodi, has co-operated with the crime writer for the programme. There is certainly no guarantee, however, that Cornwell will concur with his conspiracy theories over the Paris crash, including his bizarre claim that the Royal Family played a role. “People who want me to advocate one theory or another won’t be pleased,” Cornwell said. Those close to the crime writer believe it is more likely that she will conclude that the crash was a tragic accident.
“I have a number of important interviews with very significant witnesses who have never before addressed this case publicly,” Cornwell said. “In addition I spoke to official witnesses whose identities — and even some of their information — are too sensitive to reveal.”
She hopes those who were close to the Princess will welcome her findings. “I sincerely hope that the show will lay some rumours and errors to rest, and I believe it will. Theories, however, will never entirely go away.”