Magazine article The Spectator

It Is No Longer Possible to Scoff at the Idea That Diana Was Murdered

Magazine article The Spectator

It Is No Longer Possible to Scoff at the Idea That Diana Was Murdered

Article excerpt

If the Daily Mirror reported the Second Coming, would anyone believe it? Probably not. There is a general view in polite society that the newspaper and its editor, Piers Morgan, are not entirely to be trusted. This may be an opinion based on prejudice, or it may have its roots in solid fact. This week the Mirror has been serialising the new book by Paul Burrell, former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales. My impression is that many people are not taking its revelations completely seriously, particularly Mr Burrell's claim that ten months before she died Diana predicted the circumstances of her demise. An allegation which might have rocked the nation had it first appeared in the Guardian or the Times has had a limited effect. The other tabloids have been greatly exercised by Mr Burrell's book, and especially by Diana's letter, but the broadsheets and the BBC have, for the most part, remained aloof. Incidentally, I seem to have been jumping the gun a little in suggesting last week that the tabloids are growing tired of royal stories.

Mr Burrell has not helped himself. He does not seem to be a very attractive person. Diana certainly had strange taste in men. Mr Burrell is no doubt hoping to make a great deal of money out of his book. He has published letters from the Duke of Edinburgh and others to the Princess, flouting the law of copyright as I have always understood it. Most incredible of all is his unveiling of the letter to him in which the Princess wrote that 'this particular phase in my life is the most dangerous. - [name removed by the Daily Mirror on the advice of my learned friends] is planning "an accident" in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry.' It is astonishing that Mr Burrell should have sat on this letter for six years without showing it to the authorities. This is an amazing dereliction of duty.

Some people may say that he could not have shown the letter to anyone because it did not exist. But although Mr Burrell may be morally defective, there is no reason to suppose he is a forger. The letter, reprinted by the Daily Mirror, is in Diana's hand, and looks genuine. Of course, just because she predicted the circumstances of her death, it does not follow that she was murdered. But it is a piece of evidence that would certainly be taken seriously by Hercule Poirot in a novel by Agatha Christie. The reader would perk up if the detective were to uncover a letter written by the murder victim in which she revealed, ten months before she was hacked to death, that the vicar was planning to dispatch her with a spade. We would feel that Hercule was not doing his job if he did not make a beeline for the vicar's potting shed.

Why do we not take Diana's letter more seriously? Partly, as I have said, because it appeared in the Daily Mirror, and was brought to our attention by Paul Burrell. And also because to most sensible people it seems so obvious that Diana, Princess of Wales died at the hands of a drunk who was driving insanely fast. Most of us hate conspiracy theories, particularly when they are embraced by such people as Mohamed Fayed, father of Dodi Fayed, who died in the crash. Over the years I have written several pieces scoffing at the bizarre band of people who insist that the Princess was murdered.

But now I am not so sure. Isn't it extraordinary that she foresaw almost exactly how she would die? …

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