LONDON (Reuters) - The world may never know if Princess Diana was pregnant when she died with her lover Dodi al-Fayed in a high-speed Paris car crash, the inquest into their deaths has been told.
Dodi’s father, Harrods luxury storeowner Mohamed al-Fayed, says the couple were killed in 1997 by Britain’s security services on the orders of Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Diana’s former father-in-law.
Fayed says the royal family ordered the killings because Diana was pregnant and was planning to marry her Muslim lover.
Summing up his opening remarks on day two of the inquest, Lord Justice Scott Baker said: “It is likely that pregnancy is a matter that cannot be proved one way or the other in scientific terms in this case.”
Diana, 36, Dodi, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul were killed when their Mercedes car crashed in a road tunnel as they sped away from the Ritz Hotel in Paris, pursued by paparazzi.
Fayed, whose allegations have been spelt out in court by the judge, also claims that Diana’s body was hastily embalmed to cover up evidence that she was expecting another child.
The judge asked the jury to consider if the embalming was legal, who authorised it and whether there was an ulterior motive.
Scott Baker, presiding over a case that has attracted worldwide press interest and may take up to six months to resolve, said there was conflicting evidence about an engagement ring said to have been bought by Dodi for Diana.
He also went into scientific detail over the post-mortem tests carried out on Henri Paul, the chauffeur who drove their car.
Investigations by French and British police have concluded the deaths were a tragic accident caused by Paul, who was found to be drunk and had been speeding. They both rejected Fayed’s conspiracy allegations.
Under British law, an inquest is needed to determine the cause of death when someone dies unnaturally.
Scott Baker also revealed that among the witnesses he hoped to call at the inquest was Paul Burrell, Diana’s butler who she referred to as “her rock”.
After the judge had laid out the case in detail, the jury then watched a police video reconstruction of the ill-fated couple’s last car journey from the Ritz Hotel through to the Alma underpass where they died.
They then retraced Dodi and Diana’s last day through a string of grainy CCTV images taken from the Ritz Hotel’s 43 security cameras that captured their every move through its palatial corridors.
Diana, smiling and looking and relaxed, is shadowed by hotel bodyguards out of the lift to the Imperial Suite. Outside, paparazzi swarm into the Place Vendome, jostling for a shot of the world’s most photographed woman.
The couple are shown later in the evening having to run the gauntlet of paparazzi as they hurry through the hotel’s revolving doors to enjoy what would be their very last evening together.