New Evidence

A New Twist Emerges in Princess Diana’s Death

British police said Saturday that new evidence shows a former soldier bragged to his parents that the military was behind the princess’s 1997 death in car crash, reigniting suspicion that foul play was involved in the tragedy.

Jerome Delay / AP Photo

The British military has been accused of masterminding a plot that killed Princess Diana.

Scotland Yard announced Saturday night that police officers were examining claims that the elite SAS Special Forces unit was behind the death of the princess in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Conspiracy theories first emerged within hours of the fatal crash that killed Diana and Dodi Fayed when their car struck the 13th pillar of the Alma Tunnel 16 years ago. Official inquiries concluded that their driver was drunk and had crashed accidentally while being pursued by the paparazzi, although Diana had feared that members of the royal family were plotting to have her killed.

A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed to The Daily Beast that they have received details of allegations that she was murdered. The claims were made in a letter that came to light during the court martial of a former member of the SAS. In the letter, which was written by the in-laws of a ex-Special Forces sniper, it is alleged that the marksman had boasted that the SAS “was behind Princess Diana’s death.”

The claims will be examined by specialist officers. "The Metropolitan Police Service is scoping information that has recently been received in relation to the deaths and assessing its relevance and credibility,” a spokesman said.

The letter in question, which has been seen by Britain’s People newspaper, does not include any firsthand evidence. It was written by the parents of a woman who was married to an ex-commando, who recount his alleged claims about the killing.

Mohammad Al-Fayed, Dodi’s father, claimed that his son and Diana were killed by the British military at the behest of the royal family because they wanted to ensure the couple would never be married. Al-Fayed, the former owner of Harrods, alleged that Prince Philip had instructed MI6 to carry out the hit.

In 2004, Scotland Yard’s commissioner, Lord Stevens, launched an investigation into the deaths of Diana, Dodi, and their chauffeur, Henri Paul. Operation Paget, which was completed two years later, rejected the murder claims and found that Diana was not pregnant nor engaged to Dodi at the time for her death despite the claims made by Al-Fayed. A spokesman for the Egyptian businessman said in a statement that he would be “interested in seeing the outcome” of the latest investigation, which he expected to be completed “with vigor.”

Diana, who was 36 at the time of her death, had divorced Prince Charles a year earlier. Although the police confirmed that they were investigating the latest claims, they said they had not re-opened Operation Paget or their original investigation into Diana’s death.

A decade after the fatal accident, it emerged that Diana had sent a letter to her butler, Paul Burrell, in which she claimed Prince Charles was planning to have her killed. "This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous,” she wrote, in the 1993 note. “My husband is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury.”

Her death, four years later, prompted an unprecedented outpouring of public grief in Britain led by Tony Blair, the newly elected prime minister. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to mark her passing ahead of a funeral attended by her young sons William and Harry, and broadcast live around the world.