Princess Diana’s Car Was ‘Airborne’ When It Crashed Above Speed Limit

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, after a car accident in Paris, French police missed critical evidence at the scene.


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In episode 7 of the podcast “Fatal Voyage: Diana Case Solved,” former homicide detective Colin McLaren returns to the City of Light to retrace the path of the white Fiat Uno that left small paint marks on the body of the Mercedes-Benz S280 that Diana was inside. The two cars had glancing contact, although authorities were never able to find the Fiat and no one reported seeing one in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.

Princess Diana 1983
Princess Diana, circa 1983. Nils Jorgensen/Shutterstock

The episode, titled “Botched Investigation,” takes a look into how police failed to treat the crash as a crime scene, forcing McLaren to conduct his own investigation alongside investigative journalist Dylan Howard and renowned racing and ABS brake design expert Vincent Messina. English barrister Michael Mansfield also joins the group to lay out the evidence.

“There are unknown drivers — never mind known drivers — unknown drivers that the British police and the French police were not able to trace. That is accepted,” Mansfield says.


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McLaren and Messina, meanwhile, note that Diana’s vehicle, which was driven by Hôtel Ritz Paris security head Henri Paul, crashed well above the speed limit.

“I showed you photographs of fresh tire residue on the top of the capping, which is about 1.2 yards above the road’s surface, or well over a meter about the road’s surface,” McLaren says. “That’s consistent with it being airborne?”

Messina responds, “Yes, of course. There’s no way it could not have been airborne; it must’ve been airborne. And I think I mentioned at the time, had he been traveling at another 10 miles an hour faster, he might’ve just cleared the capping and gone into the guards there and maybe the tree or something, and maybe they all would’ve survived.”


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The accident killed Diana, 36, Paul, 41, and the Princess of Wales’ companion, Dodi Fayed. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones survived with serious head injuries.

“Fatal Voyage: Diana Case Solved” is a 12-part docuseries that features interviews with a global team of detectives, forensic pathologists and royal insiders as they examine what led to Diana’s tragic death.

Download and stream “Fatal Voyage: Diana Case Solved” everywhere podcasts are available.

To read more about “Diana: Case Solved,” purchase the companion book by former detective Colin McLaren and investigative journalist Dylan Howard at bookstores or online.

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