PARIS - Twenty-five years ago on August 31, 1997, Britain’s Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a high-speed car crash in Paris. For the next week leading up to her spectacular funeral, Britain was plunged into an unprecedented outpouring of popular grief that jolted the monarchy, which was seen by some as out of touch with the moment. Here is how the week unfolded: Divorced for the past year from heir to the throne Prince Charles, 36-year-old Diana and her wealthy new lover, Egyptian playboy Dodi Fayed, are stalked by press photographers over their summer holiday in the Mediterranean.
They arrive in Paris in the afternoon of August 30 and dine that evening at the Hotel Ritz, owned by Fayed’s father Mohamed Al-Fayed. They try to leave discreetly from a back entrance shortly after midnight, in a Mercedes. Chased by paparazzi on motorcycles, the car careers at high speed into a pillar in an underpass near the Alma Bridge opposite the Eiffel Tower on the north bank of the River Seine. Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul, who had a high level of alcohol in his blood, die instantly. Their bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones is seriously injured. Rescue workers pull Diana out alive from the twisted wreckage of the Mercedes. Seven photographers are arrested. Photographs of the crash are offered to newspapers for vast fortunes. Diana is taken to Pitie-Salpetriere hospital where at 4:00 am (0200 GMT) she dies of massive chest injuries after two hours of desperate surgery. The royal family are officially informed. Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, Charles and the couple’s two children, Prince William, 15, and Prince Harry, 12, are holidaying at Balmoral, the monarch’s private summer residence in Scotland. Britain awakes in mourning. Tearful Londoners start to lay flowers in front of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, the princess’s residence. Tony Blair, the new Labour Prime Minister, pays an emotional homage to “the people’s princess”. The royal family, as usual, goes to church on Sunday morning. Diana is not mentioned in the service, for fear of upsetting her children