The former owner of the car in which Princess Diana was driven to her death has come forward with some disturbing news.
On the night of August 31, 1997, a Mercedes-Benz S280 was provided by the Paris Ritz Hotel, which is owned by businessman Mohamed Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana’s lover at the time of her death. The car was owned by Etoile Limousines, which supplied the Ritz with cars and chauffeurs.
Princess Diana’s chauffeur, Henri Paul, who was drunk and under the influence of anti-depressants, sped through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, lost control of the vehicle, and crashed into a pillar. He, Diana, and Fayed were fatally injured in the car crash. Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, suffered a serious head injury but survived.
Though many blamed the pursuing paparazzi for the fatal car crash, investigations concluded that Paul’s drunk driving was to blame. Yet, conspiracy theorists have long suggested that the Mercedes-Benz car may have been tampered with by those who wanted Princess Diana dead.
This week, the car’s former owner spoke up about the vehicle and revealed that it was, as the Daily Mail said, a “rebuilt wreck” that might have been unsafe to drive. Eric Bousquet, the car’s original owner, recently spoke to the French radio station RTL and recounted that he had bought the ill-fated Mercedes-Benz S280 in 1994 when he was a “young advertising executive.”
Apparently, just a few months later, a parolee stole the car and took it for a joyride in the Paris suburbs. The thief flipped the car about a dozen times and landed it on its roof in a field. The Mercedes-Benz was totaled and mechanics reportedly considered it irreparable. Bousquet said that the insurance company refunded him the price of the car.
“It was considered a dangerous car. I would have liked to take it back, but I was told no, it was not possible.”
However, instead of being taken to the scrap heap and broken up, the car was rebuilt and soon found a new owner: Etoile Limousines. Pascal Rostain, who co-authored Who Killed Lady Di?, said that one of his friends, a driver for the Ritz, doubted the safety of the vehicle after taking it for a spin in early 1997. The driver, Karim, reportedly warned his superiors about the Mercedes-Benz and told them to get rid of it.
Karim allegedly found that the car “didn’t hold” at speeds over 60 kilometers an hour (about 37 miles per hour) and that it was not reliable.
“We were afraid to use it at any speed. I told my manager that we had to sell this vehicle.”
Unfortunately, the vehicle remained in the Ritz Hotel’s fleet. Ophelie Meunier, the presenter of the documentary Death of Diana: The Incredible Revelation, said that the disclosure would help put some of the conspiracy theories about Princess Diana’s fatal car crash to rest.
“We are not offering a theory, a new hypothesis, we are really offering verified facts – Diana was not safe in this car.”
“It was nothing but a car accident,” she said.
Diana’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were 15 and 12-years-old at the time of their mother’s death. According to the new documentary Diana: 7 Days that Shook the Windsors, via The Sun, Queen Elizabeth II immediately sought to protect the boys, who were spending the summer at Balmoral Castle. She reportedly instructed her staff to let them sleep in on the morning after Diana’s death before telling them the devastating news. According to the documentary, the Queen also ordered her staff to move or hide all TVs and radios in the Balmoral residence so that the boys would be spared the harrowing details of Princess Diana’s death.
The royal family famously still made it to church at Balmoral the day after Diana’s fatal car crash, but the Queen reportedly banned mentions of Diana from the church service.
Speaking with the New York Post, Christopher Andersen, author of Game of Crowns, noted that Prince William and Prince Harry didn’t receive the emotional support that they needed in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death.
“The irony is that if Charles had died and Diana was left behind to care for their sons,” he said, “she would definitely have tended to their emotions — sought counseling for them, whatever it took.”
“Instead, it was the other way around, and the royal family did little if anything to really address the overwhelming grief that William and Harry faced at the time of their mother’s death and over the years since.”
According to Andersen, at one point during the Balmoral church service, Prince Harry, who was confused about the whole thing, leaned over to Prince Charles.
“Are you sure Mummy is dead?” he asked.
[Featured Image by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]