Princess Di's Death: Still an Accident

A British investigation into the deaths of Princess Diana, Ehmad "Dodi'' Al Fayed and their driver will reportedly concur with the results of a 1999 French probe that the crash was an accident caused by excessive speed and the intoxication of the driver Henri Paul.

The report is planned for release Thursday morning at 7 a.m., ET.

A series of intriguing but mostly explainable questions have swirled around the1997 crash for years and fueled suspicions that the internationally adored princess and her Egyptian boyfriend were murdered.

Still, the results of the investigation may never satisfy some, including Fayed's vocal father Mohammed and stalwart fans of the photogenic blonde icon.

"Whatever they say, some people will still be convinced she was murdered," Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit.

The investigation's presumed results are being met in England with a mixture of anticipation and weariness, Seward said.

"It's a big story here," she said. "It's just that we think we know the answers and that there won't be anything of great surprise in the report.

"There's going to be no personal stuff," Seward said wryly. "Which is what we all want to know."

Media Queen

The report comes amidst a minor media renaissance surrounding Diana and the ever-embattled royal family.

"The Queen," a Hollywood movie about the royals' muted, baffled response to the princess's death has generated Oscar buzz. On Tuesday, Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Henry, announced plans to hold a Live Aid-type concert this summer at Wembley Stadium to commemorate what would have been their mother's 46th birthday.

Also, a public inquest will be held in England next month to determine the cause of Diana's death.

Earlier this week reports surfaced in the Fleet Street press that an unnamed U.S. government agency had been eavesdropping on Diana's phone the day she died -- a claim that's been denied by the U.S. National Security Agency.

And Paul Burrell -- Diana's garrulous personal butler -- resurfaced this fall to resume his years-long waltz with the press with a new book about Diana's previously unreported private thoughts, feelings and letters.

It was Burrell's 2002 revelation of an apparently discounted note Diana wrote to him in 1996 that sparked the latest investigation.

"My husband is planning an 'accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury to make clear the path for him to marry,'" the note said.

Lead investigator Lord John Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner, has said he is investigating the note's claim, but it is not believed that he has uncovered any evidence to support it, according to press reports.


An 18-month French investigation found that Paul lost control of the car as he was speeding through a Paris tunnel in an attempt to outrun paparazzi photographers on motorcycles. He slammed into a concrete pillar, killing Fayed, the princess and himself. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones survived.

Mohammed Al Fayed, who has argued tirelessly that his son and the princess were murdered, hired his own investigators and launched a probe into the crash seven years ago.

Many of the alarming conspiracy theories about the crash first surfaced in the Daily Express newspapers in England, which are owned by Richard Desmond, reportedly a friend of Fayed.

On Tuesday, one of Diana's closest friends publicly urged Fayed to cease his campaign if, in fact, the investigation concludes that the crash was an accident.

"All one can hope for is that Mr. Fayed abides by the findings and stops all this talk of conspiracies," Rosa Monckton told the Evening Standard newspaper. Fayed, the billionaire chairman of the Harrods department store empire, has previously expressed public confidence in lead investigator Lord John Stevens.

But today he shattered any hopes that Diana's death would finally be put to rest.

Lord Stevens is "being definitely blackmailed to say exactly what the British intelligence want him to say," the outspoken Egyptian told an American news program. "I'm sure they find something very devastating for him and used what they have, information, to blackmail him."


What the report is not expected to address is one of the most tantalizing but unlikely rumors -- that Diane was pregnant with Fayed's child.

"Some highly personal details ... will not be revealed," Stevens told the Daily Telegraph in June, referring to the theories that Diana was pregnant. "Some things are just too personal in terms of evidence."

The rumors of a pregnancy date back to the weeks before the crash, when -- during a boating vacation with Fayed near Cote d'Azur -- the sometimes playful princess rode a launch out to a boat hired by press photographers and asked the paparazzi how long they were planning to stay.

"I'm going to surprise you all with the next thing I do,'' she said cryptically.

After her death, speculation arose that she was about to announce a pregnancy.

An unnamed investigator once told a British newspaper that Diane had been pregnant at the time of her death.

But John Burton, who was the royal coroner at the time of the crash, vigorously disputed that claim.

"I was actually present when she was examined," Burton told The Times of London in 2004. "She wasn't pregnant. I know she wasn't pregnant."

In September, Burrell discounted the rumors that she was pregnant or that she and Fayed were engaged in an interview with ABC News, and said Diana was secretly seeing another man.

"Dodi Al Fayed only knew the princess for 26 days,'' he told ABC News' Kate Snow.

Burrell said Diana's true love at the time of her death was a British heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan, with whom she had a tumultuous two-year relationship.

"He didn't want to go public," Burrell said.

Duty Hound

Burrell has been feuding with the royal family since soon after Diana's death. He was widely reviled in the British press after publishing "A Royal Duty," an insider account his time as Diana's personal butler. Still, the tome sold more than two million copies.

In January 2001 he was accused of stealing hundreds of personal items from Diana, and her former husband Charles, the Prince of Wales. What followed was a sensational series of court appearances that ended on the eve of trial when Queen Elizabeth told prosecutors that she suddenly remembered a conversation with Burrell in which she said he told her he was taking the items for "safekeeping," the BBC reported at the time.

Burrell was acquitted of all charges, which stunned the British public.

But in what many saw as his revenge against the royals for putting him through the humiliation of the theft allegations -- which included a pre-dawn raid of his home by British police -- Burrell produced the note from the princess, and a new investigation was born.

This fall, Burrell published "The Way We Were: Remembering Diana." This time around, his book sold only 21,000 copies, Forbes reported last week.

Some predict that despite Fayed's seemingly ongoing campaign, the final report will be mark the end of the British national parlor game of whodunit surrounding Diana's death.

"I would say Diana worship, which at the time of her death reached a hysterical peak, is now fading fast and my suspicion is that the report will lay it to rest once and for all, because I think it has always been utterly ridiculous that there was some conspiracy supported by [British intelligence] and members of the royal family," Graham Turner, one of England's more outspoken royal biographers, told ABC News today.

"I just always thought that was just...,'' he began, pausing to search for the right word. "Just balmy."