Skip To Content

    21 Facts About Princess Diana's Final Days And Death (And What "The Crown" Gets Right And Wrong)

    Prince Harry said he's heard the story about Princess Diana buying him a birthday gift shortly before her death in 1997, and he apparently did receive it, but he "has no idea if it's true."

    If you've been on Netflix in the past few weeks, you've probably noticed that The Crown Season 6, Part 1 just started streaming, and it's arguably one of the most high profile sections of the British Royal Family's history.

    Screenshot from "The Crown"

    The first four episodes of the final season of the Emmy Award-winning series center heavily on Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki), her relationship with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), and their deaths in 1997.

    Diana walking with Dodi in a scene from "The Crown"

    Like previous seasons of The Crown, while the series depicts historical events, it's also a dramatic retelling of the Royal Family's lives, so there are bound to be pieces that are over dramatized and/or changed slightly for the sake of a TV show.

    Diana looking at the queen in a scene from "The Crown"

    So, here are 21 real-life facts about the events that transpired before and after Princess Diana and Dodi's deaths in 1997:

    1. First, the photos of Princess Diana and Dodi kissing were captured by Mario Brenna, who said that The Crown depicting that he was hired by Mohamed Al-Fayed was "absurd and completely invented." He told the New York Times that coming across Diana and Dodi was a "giant stroke of luck," and he claimed to not know what the yacht they were on looked like.

    Screenshots from "The Crown"

    2. The photos of Princess Diana and Dodi kissing were eventually published on the front page of the Sunday Mirror, and reportedly attracted bids of £500,000, which is roughly around $630,000. Mario Brenna reportedly "made about £1.7 million, or $2.1 million, from the photos of the couple."

    Side-by-sides of the Sunday Mirror

    3. The famous diving board photo of Princess Diana, which is depicted in The Crown, was taken a week before her death in Paris. The moment came after the Sunday Mirror published photos of Diana and Dodi kissing. What was reportedly supposed to be a quiet holiday aboard Mohamed Al-Fayed's private yacht in Portofino turned into a "media circus."

    Side-by-sides of Princess Diana on a yacht

    4. Before her death, Princess Diana was a major advocate against landmines, and she did visit Bosnia and Angola, where she was pictured walking through minefields. Following her death, the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty was signed by 133 countries and prohibited the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of landmines.

    Side-by-sides of Princess Diana walking in a minefield

    5. One of the events before Princess Diana's death that The Crown doesn't show is her and Mother Teresa together in NYC in June 1997. This was the second time they were together, reportedly having developed a friendship after Diana visited Mother Teresa in 1992. Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died within days of each other, with Mother Teresa dying the day before Diana's funeral on Sept. 5, 1997.

    Mother Teresa and Princess Diana

    6. While The Crown shows Princess Diana and Dodi's relationship as more serious, especially on Dodi's side, one of Diana's friends alleged that it was simply "a summer romance," in their opinion.

    7. The British inquest into Diana's death found that Dodi did purchase a ring, with the inscription Dis-moi oui ("Tell me yes"), and CCTV footage showed Dodi inside a Paris jewelry store. However, the inquest determined that there was "no indication" that Dodi ever gave Diana the ring prior to their deaths.

    Screenshots from "The Crown"

    8. In the Operation Paget Inquiry Report, which was the title of the British Metropolitan Police inquiry that investigated the conspiracy theories surrounding Princess Diana's death, Prince William and Diana's friends alleged there were no plans for Dodi and Diana to get engaged, with one friend saying, "There was no mention whatsoever of an engagement, nothing to even suggest she might be expecting a proposal, not for a split second."

    Screenshots from "The Crown"

    9. The Crown shows Princess Diana buying a gift for Prince Harry before her death in 1997, and Prince Harry said that the story has been told so many times he "has no idea if it's true." In his memoir Spare, he wrote how his Aunt Sarah, Diana's sister, apparently brought him the present for his 13th birthday, which was less than a month after Diana's death.

    Screenshots from "The Crown"

    10. Henri Paul, the chauffeur who died alongside Princess Diana and Dodi, reportedly had "three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood" at the time of the fatal Paris car crash. It was also reported that Henri had "drugs used for treating depression" in his system at the time of his death, too.

    Screenshots from "The Crown"

    11. The British inquest into their deaths also found that both Diana and Dodi were not wearing seat belts in the back of the car, which could've contributed to their deaths. Their Mercedes crashed in the Pont de l'Alma underpass at around 60 mph, which is reportedly "twice the speed limit for that section of road."

    Screenshots from "The Crown"

    12. Trevor Rees-Jones, who was hired as a bodyguard for Dodi by his father, revealed that he and Alexander "Kez" Wingfield, another bodyguard, "suggested" that Diana and Dodi leave out the front of the Ritz Paris in "the regular two vehicles" instead of leaving out of the rear of the hotel in a single vehicle with no security, as Dodi suggested.

    Diana and Dodi walking to a car

    13. Trevor Rees-Jones, who was the only survivor, stated that he has no memory of the fatal crash. He said in an interview in 2000, "My memory stops after we waited at the rear of the Ritz, getting into the vehicle, and then as the vehicle pulls away, I notice that there was a small, light-colored hatchback vehicle, and a couple of motorbikes or scooters with photographers on them followed us, and that's where my memory stops."

    A photo of Rees and Diana, Dodi, and Henri in the car

    14. After the fatal car crash, police reportedly seized "20 rolls" of film from seven photographers who were at the site of the crash. In the book Diana: Death of a Goddess, apparently while some people rushed to help the victims of the crash, many took photos, with it being reported that one photographer "was beaten at the scene by horrified witnesses" who spotted them taking photos.

    Headlines focusing on Princess Diana's death

    15. At the time of the accident, six photographers were under a formal investigation related to Princess Diana's death, with the photographers possibly being charged with involuntary manslaughter. While the paparazzi photographers were originally said to be "criminally responsible," charges were eventually dropped in 1999, with blame for the accident being placed on Henri Paul.

    A newspaper clipping that says "Diana Dead"

    16. While The Crown only shows Prince Charles accompanying Princess Diana's body from Paris back to the UK following her death, he actually went to Paris alongside Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana's two sisters.

    Side-by-sides of the plane carrying Diana's coffin

    17. Prince Charles reportedly fought for a public funeral for Princess Diana, despite Queen Elizabeth II wishing for a private service. Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly insisted that Diana's coffin be placed at St. James's Palace and the funeral held at Westminster Abbey.

    Diana's funeral procession

    18. The Royal Family was criticized for their strict adherence to protocol in the wake of Princess Diana's death. There was reportedly "angry public response" to the family's initial refusal to lower the flag to half-mast at Buckingham Palace after Diana died. Eventually, the Queen ruled that all flags at royal residences would be lowered to half-mast.

    People at the Palace

    19. Prince William and Prince Harry accompanied Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Charles Spencer in walking behind Princess Diana's coffin during her funeral, however many were opposed to the decision. In his memoir Spare, Harry wrote, "Mummy's brother, Uncle Charles, raised hell. 'You can't make these boys walk behind their mother's coffin! It's barbaric.'"

    Side-by-sides of Diana's family at her funeral

    20. The note on top of Princess Diana's coffin from Prince William and Prince Harry that simply read, "Mummy," is part of a tradition that reportedly started with Prime Minister Winston Churchill writing a note for King George VI after his death. The tradition continued with Queen Elizabeth II penning a note to Churchill that was displayed at his funeral in 1965.

    Side-by-sides of the floral arrangements with a note from Diana and Winston Churchill's funerals

    21. And finally, a reported 2.5 billion people worldwide watched Princess Diana's funeral on TV. In the US alone, 33.2 million people tuned in to watch.

    Flowers for Diana