Diana – Her Last Days – Thursday August 21 – Saturday August 30 1997 | The Sun

THE gates open at Kensington Palace, and out quietly slips a battered grey Volvo saloon.

Concealed behind coats on hangers covering the side windows, Princess Diana lies hidden on the back seat. The plan is a success.

Photographers from the world’s press camped outside the princess’s home had been lured away from the Palace gates by two decoy cars that left moments earlier.

Once through the gates, Diana’s trusted driver Colin Tebbutt swings the Volvo through a series of twisting roads to check they are not being ­followed.

Certain that no cameramen are on their tail, he heads over the River Thames.

Diana, who has just returned to Britain that lunchtime after a holiday in Greece with her best friend Rosa Monckton, cannot wait to be reunited with her millionaire lover Dodi Fayed, son of ­Harrods owner Mohamed Fayed.

Dodi is whisking the princess away for a week’s holiday to his family’s £10million yacht in the Mediterranean.

The pair met only the previous month, when they were both holidaying in the South of France — Dodi with his American fiancée, Kelly Fisher, who quickly found herself dumped.

By now, Diana and Dodi have already spent a weekend together in Paris, followed by their first cruise aboard the yacht Jonikal — when their ­relationship hit the headlines.

But as the old Volvo arrives at Battersea ­Heliport in South West London for their flight back out to their love-nest yacht, there is no sign of Dodi or his bodyguards.

Retired royal protection officer Colin recalls: “It was a really old Volvo which people like princesses would not even go in.

“With a jacket on one window and another on the other, not a soul saw her lying on the back seat. There were paparazzi at the heliport as I drove in, but Dodi was late.

“I turned the car round and drove into a side street near a wood yard where we could watch the main road without Diana being seen.

“We were there nearly 20 minutes before Dodi swept by in a Range Rover, surrounded by his own security guards on motorbikes.


“I said, ‘They’ve just gone in, Ma’am — give them a couple of minutes.’ We went through the gate.

“I got out and spoke to one of the security guards who was short with me demanding to know why we were late?

“I said, ‘You were late. She is Her Royal ­Highness the Princess of Wales. I will take her away. She’ll come with me and you won’t have a princess’. End of argument.

“Diana got out, climbed into the Harrods helicopter and the next time I saw her she was dead.”

Dodi’s inability to stick to a plan will ultimately play a part in both their deaths.

As he arrives at the heliport for the 40-mile flight to Stansted Airport in Essex, the man responsible for the princess’s safety — Dodi’s personal minder, ex-paratrooper Trevor Rees-Jones — is in a car travelling with the couple’s baggage.

He has been left off a flight with the princess once before, when Dodi changed plans and instead of flying to the Fayed mansion in Oxted, Surrey, they flew to see Diana’s psychic Rita Rogers.

That time, as the green and beige Harrods ­chopper landed near a housing estate in Derby- shire, crowds appeared with video cameras and the ­Princess’s secret visit was on the local news.

This time the helicopter lands at the private ­airfield next to Stansted Airport, where Colin Tebbutt is due to pick her up a week later.

The luggage is safely on board the Harrods Gulfsteam jet when Rees-Jones meets Dodi and Diana for the flight to Nice in the South of France.

Requests for more bodyguards to protect the Princess on the trip have been turned down by Fayed’s security team.

The 200ft-long superyacht Jonikal with its nine guest cabins and enough room for a crew of 12 lies off the port of St-Laurent-du-Var near Nice.

After their flight, as the lovers leave their armoured Mercedes and walk towards the boat that will take them out to the Jonikal, Dodi spots a photographer on the dockside and in front of Diana orders his bodyguard: “Kill that ­motherf***er!”

Friday, August 22

With Diana and Dodi in the Master Stateroom with its two twin cabins, the ship heads out to sea.

At 2am, Jonikal’s skipper Luigi Del Tevere drops anchor near St Tropez.

Just before 9.30 that ­morning the couple leave the yacht and set off for lunch at Fayed’s villa near Pampelonne Bay.

After a three-hour meal the couple return to the yacht, which heads out to sea with a flotilla of press boats following.

Saturday, August 23

8am: As she does every morning, Diana arrives on deck and checks how many photographers are ­following the Jonikal.

Alex “Kez” Wingfield — one of the two ­bodyguards looking after Dodi and Di — recalls: “You’d pass her the binoculars and she’d have a look. On occasions she was giggling and waving.

“One morning she arrived on deck looking ­absolutely stunning in a bathing suit, saw the number of photographers and went below.


“Then she came back in another bathing suit, still looking stunning. She made no effort to hide. You never saw her looking glum.”

3pm: Jonikal moors at St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, just off Monte Carlo.

That night, wearing baseball caps, Di and Dodi, with their bodyguards and a small entourage in tow, walk unnoticed through the steep streets of Monte Carlo and become lost.

After the crash, Dodi’s father Mohamed Fayed would claim that during this time the couple ­visited Alberto Repossi’s jewellery shop in the city to view an engagement ring.

Those who were with them that day say it never happened.



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Sunday, August 24

Diana aboard the Jonikal Yacht moored in Portofino, Italy in 1997Credit: Rex Features

The yacht sails to north-western Italy.

Crew ­members are by now stumbling across Di and Dodi openly kissing.

The pair do not seem to care that they are seen.

But a planned meal at a ­restaurant near Portofino for the loved-up couple has to be abandoned when photographers line the cliff tops.

Dodi begins to suspect his crew is tipping them off.

Trevor Rees-Jones again asks for more bodyguards to protect the princess. Mohamed Fayed would later claim the request was never made.

Monday, August 25

Diana is in floods of tears in the yacht’s lounge after she and Dodi were photographed walking at Porto Venere.

She complains they cannot even take a romantic stroll on the beach without their ­privacy being invaded.

That afternoon, the yacht heads back out to sea towards the island of Elba, off Tuscany.

With the wind gusting outside, the couple decide to stay aboard that night.

Tuesday, August 26

The yacht is anchored off Molara, a tiny speck of an island near Sardinia, and the weather has improved along with the mood of those on board.

But late in the evening, with dinner set on the deck, Dodi changes plans at the last minute and announces that he and the princess will have a barbecue on the beach.

Staff race to the remote beach, inhabited only by a herd of goats, and set up folding tables with ­silver, crystal, wine buckets and candles.

10pm: A chef in a tall hat serves Diana’s favourite caviar and white Loire wine before retreating to leave the couple sitting alone beside a bonfire on the beach.

They stay there until the flames die.

Wednesday, August 27

This should be Diana’s last day of romance on the Jonikal. She is due back at Stansted Airport on Thursday.

But the day begins with French newspaper Le Monde publishing an interview with the princess, which stirs up a storm of bad publicity.

In the article she is reported to have said that John Major’s Tory government, ousted just months before by Tony Blair’s Labour, had been “hopeless’ in dealing with the issue of ­landmines, a cause close to her heart.

Diana denies saying those words and claims she had been stitched up, but the controversy catapults her back on to the front pages.

Desperate to find her, news helicopters fly over the Jonikal, sending Diana scurrying from the deck. In a fury, Dodi orders his security men: “Shoot them down!”

In her cabin Diana makes the fateful call that will change history.

She rings her office at Kensington Palace to say she has decided not to return home but to stay on the Jonikal for a few extra days instead.

Colin recalls: “Before she left we knew she was coming back into Stansted on the Thursday.

“But she left a message for us all at the office saying, ‘I’m not going to come back into a barrage of press. I will come back Sunday.’ ”

Thursday, August 28

A year to the day after Diana’s divorce from the then-Prince Charles was finalised, hundreds of photographers wait in vain for the princess by the fence at ­Stansted Airport’s private jet area.

Instead, Diana is still aboard the Jonikal, which arrives at the private resort of Cala di Volpe, in the north of Sardinia.

Dodi goes ashore by himself but flees when a photographer approaches him, leaving his bodyguard behind.

Still upset over the landmines row, Diana phones her elder sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, who asks if Dodi might help her deal with the issue.

Landowner’s wife Sarah would later tell an inquiry: “She replied, ‘I don’t think so.’ I got the impression from her tone that the relationship was on stony ground.”

Dodi and Di spend the ­evening glumly visiting small Sardinian ports but they are tracked by paparazzi wherever they go.

Friday, August 29

The yachting holiday is over.     News spreads around the ship.

Tomorrow the princess and her lover will fly to Paris — and their deaths.

Saturday, August 30

WITH the yacht still at anchor off  Sardinia, Diana is served breakfast by Dodi’s butler Rene Delorm.

She tells him how much she is looking forward to seeing Princes William, 15, and Harry, 12, who have spent a month at ­Balmoral with Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince Philip.

Later she and Dodi swim in a secluded cove.

11am: Diana calls her friend Susie Kassem.

They will speak on the phone three times that day and arrange to meet in London on Monday.

Former magistrate Susie recalls: “Diana told me she was looking forward to coming home and I could tell this by the tone in her voice.

“I knew her well and could sense her moods when we spoke.

“If she had an issue I would know. There was no mention whatsoever of an engagement — nothing to suggest she might be expecting a proposal, not for a split second. I’m certain she would have told me but there was no indication at all, not even, ‘I’ve got something to tell you’.”

Noon: Diana and Dodi and their entourage — including Dodi’s holistic healer “the Reverend” Myriah Daniels — drive to the airport.

1.50pm: The Fayed family’s Gulfstream G4 takes off for Paris. Dodi and Di chat non-stop during the 90-minute flight.

3.20pm: Touchdown at Le Bourget’s private airfield in Paris. With photographers swarming the VIP lounge, Dodi and Di stay on the plane while Dodi’s regular driver in Paris, Philippe Dourneau, brings a Mercedes to the foot of the steps for the couple.

At the wheel of a Range Rover that also pulls up at the aircraft is Henri Paul, acting head of security of the Paris Ritz hotel, which is owned by Dodi’s father.

3.40pm: Photographers on motorbikes surround the small convoy. Dodi orders driver Philippe to shake them off.

Diana is impressed with the Frenchman’s driving skills.

But in the Range Rover behind, in which Myriah Daniels is travelling, Henri Paul clips a kerb and scares his passenger.

Paul, who has never driven a Range Rover before today, has clearly enjoyed a good lunch and Myriah begs him to slow down.

While Diana and Dodi’s car heads towards the Bois de Boulogne park, Paul drives to Dodi’s apartment overlooking the Champs-Elysees to drop off the couple’s luggage.

They plan to spend the night here.

3.47pm: Dodi and Diana arrive at Villa ­Windsor, home to ex-king Edward VIII and his American wife Wallis Simpson after his abdication.

It is inside the huge Bois de ­Boulogne and Mohamed Fayed owns the lease.

He hopes Dodi will live there with Diana.

Dodi has in fact been at the 14-room villa just the previous month — with his fiancée, the American model Kelly Fisher, who he claimed he had ditched earlier in August.

4.05pm: Henri Paul arrives at the villa in the Range Rover. The villa’s head of security Ben ­Murrell smells alcohol on his breath. Dodi and the princess set out for the Ritz hotel in their ­Mercedes, followed by Paul.

While the couple are not staying at the hotel, it has just had a £100million refurbishment and it seems Dodi is keen for Diana to see it.

4.30pm: At the Ritz, a nervous Claude Roulet, assistant to the president of the hotel, shows Diana and Dodi to the Imperial Suite.

5.37pm: Dodi and bodyguard Rees-Jones slip out of the hotel across the road to Alberto Repossi’s jewellery store — the Paris branch of the same jeweller’s that the couple were rumoured to have visited in Monte Carlo.

It is now believed that Dodi is planning to ­propose to Diana at dinner that night. After ten minutes of agonising, Dodi chooses five possible rings for Diana, but not the “perfect” one he had in mind.

5.40pm: While Dodi is out, Diana telephones medium Rita Rogers.

The psychic later tells police that during their chat: “There was never any talk of marriage or engagement.”

Diana has her hair done in the hotel’s beauty salon and prepares for an evening out.

5.50pm: She calls William and Harry at ­Balmoral. The boys are playing with their cousins Peter and Zara Phillips. The princes are still haunted by that five-minute call.

Harry revealed last month: “I can’t really necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is probably, you know, regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was . . .

“Not knowing that that was the last time I was going to speak to my mum, and 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.”

6.20pm: Claude Roulet, of the Ritz, heads across to the Repossi jewellery store on Dodi’s behalf.

He notices that the jeweller’s wife is wearing a ring just like the one Dodi had described wanting. He returns to the Ritz with the £130,000 ring, and Dodi loves it.

Claude books the pair a table for 9.45pm at Chez Benoit bistro, a mile or two from the Ritz.

6.59pm: The couple leave the Ritz for Dodi’s flat, where more photographers are camped out.

A rattled Dodi refuses to let his bodyguard know where they are going to have dinner — meaning no security planning is carried out.

He gets changed into a brown suede jacket, blue jeans, grey shirt and cowboy boots.

Diana puts on white jeans, a sleeveless top and a black blazer, plus a pearl bracelet that Dodi has given her.

They drink champagne.

9.35pm: To give the lovers some privacy on their drive to the restaurant, bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones and Kez Wingfield take a different car, following behind.

They still do not know where the couple are heading.

As 15 paparazzi on motorbikes swarm Diana and Dodi’s Mercedes, Dodi shouts: “It’s too much! It’s mad!” and tells his driver Philippe to head back to the Ritz. They will eat there.

With her hand on Dodi’s knee, Diana tells him. “Don’t worry, don’t worry.”

9.50pm: Diana and Dodi arrive back at the Ritz, where they decide to take their meal in the Imperial Suite.

Trevor Rees-Jones opens the car door for Dodi as photographers surge.

CCTV in the Ritz captures a stony-faced Diana striding through the lobby.

Dodi demands: “How did this fiasco happen?”

Kez Wingfield hits back: “You never told us where you were going!”

10.05pm: Ritz night security boss François ­Tendil is so worried by the paparazzi outside he calls ­acting head of security Henri Paul, whose shift had ended three hours before.

10.08pm: Paul, 41, who has downed five aperitifs on top of prescription drugs which were not to be taken with alcohol, parks his black Mini outside the hotel.

He joins bodyguards Wingfield and Rees-Jones in the bar where they are having soft drinks.

Paul orders another Ricard pastis — a liquorice-flavoured alcoholic aperitif.

10.10pm: A barman sees Paul bump into a customer as he leaves the bar.

10.30pm: Dozens of tourists join photographers outside the hotel’s main entrance.

11.40pm: Outside the Imperial Suite, bodyguards Wingfield and Rees-Jones hear ­laughter from the couple inside.

Then hotel security man Paul tells the two bodyguards that Dodi has come up with a scheme to evade photographers as he and Diana go back to his apartment, a ten-minute drive away.

The couple will leave from the back entrance in a car driven by Paul — without any giveaway ­bodyguards — while two decoy vehicles zoom off from the front of the hotel in front of snappers.

Furious Rees-Jones says: “No f***ing chance is he leaving without a bodyguard.”

But Paul says the plan has the approval of Dodi’s father Mohamed.

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