August 31, 1997 in Nation/World

Princess Diana Injured, Boyfriend Killed In Wreck

Craig R. Whitney New York Times
 

Diana, the Princess of Wales, was seriously injured shortly after midnight on Sunday morning in an automobile accident in a tunnel by the Seine. The accident killed Dodi Fayed, the Harrods heir, and their driver, the police said.

There was no immediate official word on the condition of the princess, who was hospitalized. But Agence France-Presse said she had suffered a concussion, a broken arm, and serious cuts to her thigh. The agency, without identifying its sources, said she was in intensive care at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in southeast Paris.

A bodyguard was also seriously injured, according to a police spokesman.

“The car was being chased by photographers on motorcycles, which could have caused the accident,” a spokesman for the Prefecture of Police said.

The princess, 36, was divorced from Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, last year. She vacationed with Fayed, 41, the son of Harrods’ owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, on the French Riviera earlier this month and had been expected to return to London today to be with her two sons, the Princes William and Harry.

French radio stations reported that a spokesman for the British royal family in London expressed anger and said the accident was predictable because photographers relentlessly pursued the princess wherever she went.

The crash occurred 35 minutes past midnight in the Alma Tunnel, on the right bank of the Seine under the Place de l’Alma, the police said.

The driver was hired from the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The princess and Fayed had been pursued from the Ritz Hotel, where they were believed to be staying after spending time together on the Riviera.

The Paris police said that the interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, and the prefect of police, Philippe Massoni, had accompanied the British consul in Paris to the hospital where the princess was under treatment.

But officials at the British Embassy did not disclose which hospital the princess had been taken to.

The site of the accident, in the Eighth Arrondissement, is on a high-speed road along the Seine with a divided roadway as it passes under the Place de l’Alma to the Place de la Concorde.

On Aug. 21, Diana and Fayed, who is of Egyptian ancestry, flew to the French Mediterranean resort of St. Tropez for their third holiday in each other’s company in five weeks.

Fayed’s father said in an interview with The New York Times in London recently that the two were simply “young people getting to know each other.”

British newspapers reported that Diana first met Fayed almost 10 years ago when he and Prince Charles played polo on opposing teams. Films he had produced or co-produced included the 1981 Oscar-winning “Chariots of Fire,” “The World According to Garp,” “F/X” and “Hook.”

Reportedly a multimillionaire, Fayed had homes in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Switzerland, and a garage full of luxury cars.

He was divorced after a marriage that lasted eight months in 1994.

Diana was catapulted into the public eye at age 19 in 1981 when it was announced that she was engaged to Charles, the heir to the British throne and 12 years her senior.

The couple were married on July 29 that year in London in a ceremony watched by millions around the world and billed as a “fairy-tale wedding.”

Diana soon became a mother, to Prince William in June 1982, but by the birth of her second son, Harry, in September 1984, her biographer wrote she was already suffering from bulimia and had attempted suicide five times.


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