It’s been over 20 years since her death, yet many are still curious to know what Princess Diana‘s last words were.

The Princess of Wales died on August 31, 1997 after sustaining fatal injuries in a car crash. According to reports at the time, Diana uttered her final words right after she was pulled from the wreckage of the crash, which occurred when Diana and her then-boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, were being pursued by paparazzi in their vehicle in Paris, France. Diana’s driver, Henri Paul, was reportedly speeding and lost control of the car, which caused the vehicle to collide with a column in the middle of the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Both Paul and Fayed were killed instantly on impact. Diana, however, was still alive for a few hours following the accident.

Prince Harry, James Hewitt, Princess Diana

kate and william at the coronation

A firefighter who led the response team was reportedly the last person to speak to Diana before she was rushed to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, where she tragically died from her injuries the following morning. She was only 36.

What were Princess Diana’s last words before her death?

princess diana
Image: Getty Images

What were Princess Diana’s last words? The firefighter on the scene of Princess Diana’s accident revealed the last words she spoke before her death in an interview with The Independent. According to the firefighter, Xavier Gourmelon, the Princess of Wales asked: “My God, what has happened?”

Gourmelon revealed that he was able to get Princess Diana to breathe again after delivering chest compressions. “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.” However, when Gourmelon learned she passed away from her injuries the next day, it was “very upsetting.” He said, “I know now that there were serious internal injuries, but the whole episode is still very much in my mind. The memory of that night will stay with me forever.”

In Tina Brown’s book, The Diana Chronicles
, Dr. Frederic Mailliez, an EMT who had been driving through the tunnel at the time of the crash, told her that Diana woke up in pain from the crash. “She kept saying how much she hurt,” Mailliez told Brown. Brown also reported on Diana’s last moments awake after the crash: “She turned her head and saw the lifeless Dodi just in front of her, then turned her head again toward the front where the bodyguard was writhing and where Henri Paul lay dead. She became agitated, then lowered her head and closed her eyes.”

Spare by Prince Harry
Courtesy of: Random House

For more about Prince Harry, read his upcoming memoir, Spare. Told for the first time in his own words, the book takes readers through the Duke of Sussex’s life with the British royal family, from the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 to how the moment led to his decision decades later to move to America with his wife, Meghan Markle, and leave Buckingham Palace for good in 2020. “With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief,” the publisher’s description reads.

What were Princess Diana’s last words to her sons?

Prince Harry and Prince William spoke to their mother just hours before her fatal crash in 1997. Their last conversation, however, was brief. According to the ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, the brothers were at Balmoral Castle in Scotland when Princess Diana called them for the very last time.

“I can’t necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was,” Prince Harry said in the documentary. “If I’d known that that was the last time I was going to speak to my mother, the things I would have said to her.”

He continued, “Looking back at it now, it’s incredibly hard. I have to deal with that for the rest of my life: not knowing that it was the last time I’d speak to my mum, how differently that conversation would have panned out if I’d had even the slightest inkling that her life was going to be taken that night.”

Prince William, for his part, remembered that he and his brother were “running around, minding our own business, playing with our cousins and having a very good time” when they received their mother’s call, noting that they were in a rush to say “goodbye, see you later, can I go off?” The Duke of Cambridge added, “If I’d known what was going to happen I wouldn’t have been quite so blasé about it. That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”

How did Princess Diana die?

Princess Diana died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, after her car crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France, following a chase from the paparazzi. She was 36 years old. Her rumored boyfriend, Egyptian businessman Emad “Dodi” Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene. Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the crash with serious injuries.

Diana, who was still alive at the scene of the crash but was in critical condition, was rushed to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital where she died. According to Oprah magazine, Diana suffered from a concussion, a broken arm, a cut thigh and massive chest injuries. After a two-hour operation to save her, the doctors failed to get Diana’s heart to beat properly and she never regained consciousness. She died from internal bleeding at 4:53 a.m. on August 31, 1997.

Diana and Fayed, who arrived in Paris after a 10-day getaway on the French Riviera, got into Paul’s car a few minutes after midnight on August 31, 1997, before their car crashed. It’s believed that Diana and Fayed planned to travel to Fayed’s private estate in Paris. According to Oprah magazine, the posted speed limit for the road for 30 miles per hour, however, Paul approached the entrance of the tunnel at around 70 miles per hour, which led him to lose control of the car and collide with a pillar in the middle of the highway.

According to a report by the Telegraph at the time, a French investigation found that Paul, who was the deputy head of security at the Hôtel Ritz, had been intoxicated by alcohol and under the effects of prescription drugs, including anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs, at the time of the crash. The investigation found that he was solely responsible for the accident. Investigations also revealed that Rees-Jones survived because he was wearing a seatbelt, while no one else in the car was wearing one.

What happened before Diana’s death?

On August 30, 2022, the Associated Press revealed the events leading up to the tragic accident, suggesting that Fayed may have been planning to propose.

“Dodi may have carried a surprise in his pocket: News reports quote a Paris jeweler saying he’d sold him an “extraordinary” diamond solitaire ring for $205,000, and it is at the Ritz that Dodi may have given it to Diana. Is it an engagement ring? No one will ever know for sure,” the outlet reported.

“But the day has been tense. The couple has been having problems with paparazzi ever since their mid-afternoon arrival in Paris. First, they trailed Diana and Dodi from Le Bourget Airport outside Paris, on their way to see Villa Windsor — a mansion that once housed the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and that Dodi’s father has bought and renovated. Their driver managed to shake the photographers.”

princess diana bbc
BBC Panorama.

They later left the Ritz from the back entrance, and while there were no paparazzi waiting for them there, the use of a decoy car didn’t work. “With paparazzi in pursuit, the Mercedes travels down the Rue Cambon and turns right onto the colonnaded, boutique-lined Rue de Rivoli, with the Tuileries Gardens on the left. Arriving at the Place de la Concorde, it takes a left past the obelisk, allowing a view of the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe on the right as it makes its way to the bank of the Seine,” the report continued.

“Here, some photographers say, Paul already is driving dangerously. Jacques Langevin says he was told by fellow photographers that at the Place de la Concorde, when they were stopped at a red light, the Mercedes took off with a roar before the light turned green. Already, the photographer told the Liberation daily, ‘the Mercedes was fishtailing dangerously and the driver didn’t seem to be in control.’”

Entering the 660-foot long tunnel where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, “police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the car’s speedometer was found frozen at 196 kilometers per hour, or 121 mph.” Neither Diana nor Dodi were wearing seatbelts.

“Seconds after the car enters the tunnel in the left westbound lane, it goes out of control, striking the 13th concrete pillar dividing the tunnel, rolls over and rebounds into the right wall. It then spins around. When the car stops, it is facing east — the direction it came from,” the AP report stated.

Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words
Image: Courtesy of Thorndike Press.

For more about Princess Diana, read Andrew Morton’s biography, Diana: Her True Story — In Her Words. The New York Times bestseller, which was first published in 1992, is the only authorized biography about Princess Diana. The book, which Diana collaborated on, includes raw and unfiltered quotes from the Princess of Wales about her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, her relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, her life in the House of Windsor, and her hopes, dreams and fears for her children, Prince William and Prince Harry, before her death in 1997. The biography, which has been described as the “closest we will ever come” to a Princess Diana autobiography, was republished with new material in 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the People’s Princess’s death.

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