LONDON — The final pictures of Princess Diana climbing into the car in which she and her lover Dodi al-Fayed died were shown for the first time Thursday to a jury deciding whether their Paris crash was an accident.
The footage, a compilation of grainy film taken from 31 closed circuit TV cameras at the Ritz Hotel belonging to Fayed’s father Mohamed, showed the couple looking relaxed and happy, holding hands and with their arms draped around each other.
The countdown to tragedy also showed chauffeur Henri Paul talking to paparazzi during five visits to the front of the luxury hotel where photographers were gathered. He also made two trips to one of the hotel’s bars.
Diana, 36, Dodi, 42, and Paul were killed when their Mercedes car crashed in a road tunnel as they sped away from the Ritz, pursued by the paparazzi on August 31, 1997.
The jury have heard how Mohamed al-Fayed, owner of luxury store Harrods, says the couple were killed by Britain’s security services on the orders of the Duke of Edinburgh, 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.
Investigations by French and British police have concluded however that the deaths were an accident caused by Paul, who was found to be drunk and had been speeding. They both rejected Fayed’s conspiracy allegations.
The jury at inquests into their deaths at London’s High Court saw footage by Paul Carpenter, an inspector from London’s police team which investigated the deaths.
It showed the chauffeur arriving at the hotel at about 10 p.m, just over two hours before the couple set off on their fateful journey.
Paul, whose movements are unclear from the time he had finished work at the hotel at 7 p.m. before later being recalled, was shown going straight to the bar.
Carpenter also showed Paul, the couple’s bodyguards and hotel staff planning to trick the paparazzi massed at the front of the hotel by arranging for a decoy limousine.
The car even carried out a “dummy run,” which, the footage showed, sent the photographers into a frenzy.
Meanwhile, the plan was to sneak Diana and Dodi out of the back of the hotel via a service area out of the public glare.
As they waited for about seven minutes for their car to arrive, the couple could be seen with their arms around each other. She was holding his cigar case.
Paul goes out of the back of the building to see if their car, being brought up from the garage, is ready.
But, Carpenter said, he also appears to tip-off a couple of photographers who had broken away from the main pack and were waiting at the back of the hotel.
“You will see him (Paul) raise his hand as if waving to the paparazzi across the road,” Carpenter said.
“If you look at the paparazzi across the road you will see one of them raise his camera and what he’s doing is focusing on the doorway and that is why Henri Paul waves.
“You will also see after he (Paul) has done that, he raises his hand to his mouth.”
The footage then showed Diana, with her hand raised to cover her face, walk ahead of Dodi before both get into the waiting Mercedes and the car drives off.