Princess Diana: Did She Know She Was Going to Die?

"We did nothing wrong," insisted Dominique Lecomte, one of the pathologists who did the embalming. But because of the procedure, Lecomte and fellow forensic pathologist Andre Lienhart were only able to confirm Diana's injuries instead of performing a full autopsy. Since Prince Charles had seemed genuinely concerned about helping the Princess maintain her glamorous look even in death ("He was so sweet, he surprised me"), Nurse Humbert thought nothing of it when, over the phone from Balmoral, he asked if Diana was wearing her favorite gold earrings. "But there was only one earring, on her left ear, Your Highness," she replied. "We cannot find the other." (The missing earring would eventually be found—eight weeks later, when forensics experts dug it out of the dashboard of the black Mercedes S280 in which she had been riding.) "And there was no other jewelry—no bracelets? No necklaces?" "No, Your Highness. No jewelry at all."

In asking the question—albeit in a far more diplomatic manner—Charles was eliciting the same information the Queen had already sought. Earlier that day, the Queen had placed her first call to Paris, but not to ask for medical details or about what might have caused the accident. She wanted to know if any of the major pieces of state jewelry that Diana sometimes traveled with were in her possession. "Where are the jewels?" an official from the British Consul's office had demanded of Humbert. "Madame," he repeated, "the Queen is worried about the jewelry. We must find the jewelry quickly! The Queen wants to know, 'Where are the jewels?'" 'The Queen had every right to ask that question," Charles told Camilla, still holed up at her home in Wiltshire. Diana still possessed several pieces of jewelry that belonged to the Crown, as well as Windsor pieces he had given her over the years, worth millions. "We can't"" Charles said, making a none-too-subtle reference to the Fayeds, "have them fall into the wrong hands."

The Prince reported his findings to the Queen. Indeed, there were no items of Windsor jewelry on Diana at the time of her death—no rings, no necklaces, no bracelets. He then hugged his grief-stricken sons before leaving to board the Queen's Flight BAe 146 that would take him to Paris along with Diana's Spencer sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes.

It was not a trip the Queen had wanted her son to make. Her Majesty had once been fond of Diana; tellingly, the Queen's warmly worded letters of encouragement to her daughter-in-law were invariably signed "Mama." But in recent years, the Queen had come to regard Diana more and more as a reckless, self-centered threat to the monarchy. Since the Queen had stripped the Princess of her royal status when the divorce was finalized the previous year, Diana had no official rank, no status. Therefore Her Majesty deemed it "inappropriate" for any member of the Royal Family to make the trip to claim the body. "The Spencers are her family, Charles," she told him. "They should be the ones to bring Diana back."

But Charles, who had spent years waging a public relations war against the media-savvy Diana, overruled the monarch. Appreciating full well the intensity of his countrymen's feelings toward Diana, Charles ignored his mother's objections and went ahead with plans to accompany the Princess's body back to England. "We must show Diana the respect she is due," he told his mother. "If we don't we will all be terribly sorry, I'm afraid."

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