With nearly 21 years having passed since the death of Princess Diana, many still blame the press for the car crash that took the lives of the princess, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul. However, Diana’s former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe, sees things in a different light and doesn’t believe that the paparazzi should be singled out for the tragedy like they often have been.
In an interview with Yahoo U.K. for the sixth episode of The Royal Box, Wharfe said that encountering paparazzi was nothing new for Diana in the nine years he protected the princess and her two sons. As he recalled, it was more than just a few random photographers who would show up and try to take pictures of Diana, but rather “60 to 70 journalists” during foreign holidays.
“It’s in their interest to keep Diana alive and any other member of the royal family. It’s their bread and butter,” said Wharfe, who worked for the Princess of Wales until 1993.
“Yes, some were pursuing Diana, but they weren’t, in my view, ultimately the cause of her death.”
Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, and Henri Paul were killed on August 31, 1997, after the Mercedes-Benz S280 Paul was driving crashed in a Paris tunnel while they were allegedly being chased by motorcycle-riding photographers. The Guardian recalled in 2008 that several witnesses testified later on in court, relating how the paparazzi chose to approach the car and take photos of Diana, Fayed, and Paul, instead of trying to provide assistance as they lay dying.
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Despite the witness testimonies, a French court ruled in 1999 that Paul was responsible for the fatal car crash, as he was found to have been under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol, and later discovered to have had a blood-alcohol level more than three times higher than France’s legal limit. Investigators also ruled that the photographers were nowhere near the car at the time of the accident.
Aside from Ken Wharfe’s comments on The Royal Box about Princess Diana and how the paparazzi shouldn’t be solely held responsible for her death, the former bodyguard also had some controversial remarks on the series about Diana’s younger son, Prince Harry. As related by the Daily Mail, Wharfe feels that Harry didn’t do his part to help his father-in-law, Thomas Markle, deal with the media in the run-up to Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle. He added that the elder Markle shouldn’t be dismissed as an “ogre” for his tendency to entertain interviews with the press and other behaviors, which he said are a result of “poor advice or no advice.”