Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997. She perished alongside her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed and news of their sudden deaths shook the globe. Queen Elizabeth II was at Balmoral when she learnt of the fatal crash and the usually reserved royal made an extraordinary remark when she heard the news, a royal author has claimed.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced in August 1996 after months of separation.
She began dating Dodi Al-Fayed son of Harrod’s owner Mohammed Al-Fayed in the summer of 1997.
The pair were pictured holidaying together in St Tropez shortly before their deaths.
The celebrity couple were being followed by paparazzi in Paris in the early hours of Sunday, August 31, 1997, when their car crashed and they were both killed.
Queen heartbreak: Queen’s shocking response on hearing of Princess Diana’s death (Image: GETTY)
Queen heartbreak: Diana’s body was returned from Paris on August 31 (Image: GETTY)
Queen heartbreak: Diana and Dodi holidaying in St Tropez shortly before the fatal crash (Image: GETTY)
News of the incident reached Balmoral, where the Royal Family were staying soon after it happened.
Prince Charles, Prince Philip and the Queen were first to receive the news and their reaction was one of “dazed bewilderment” according to royal expert and author Ingrid Seward.
In her 2017 book, My Husband and I: The Inside Story of 70 Years of the Royal Marriage, Ms Seward describes the heartbreaking moment.
She wrote: “The royal family, holidaying in their Highland fastness at Balmoral that summer, had no inkling of the crisis about to overwhelm them when they received the news that Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris.
Queen heartbreak: Princess Diana had a cult following (Image: GETTY)
Queen heartbreak: A sea of floral tributes were left to her (Image: GETTY)
“The call came through form the embassy in the French capital at 3.30 on the Sunday morning 31 August, 1997, and their first reaction was simply one of dazed bewilderment.”
She claimed the Queen’s first response to the news was “extraordinary.”
Ms Seward wrote: “The Queen was bewildered and caught up by the mood of suspicion as to what had caused the accident.
“Her first comment, upon being told of Diana’s death, was to say: ‘Someone must have greased the breaks.’
“It was an extraordinary remark for The Queen to make and astounded her staff when they came to hear of it, which most had by the time the dawn broke over Balmoral’s wooded hills.”
At the time of her death, Diana had become a cult figure.
Having announced her retirement from public life in 1993, she aligned herself with charitable causes close to her heart.
She raised awareness around the AIDS crisis in the UK and became a hero for the gay community.
Her groundbreaking work towards removing landmines in Angola has a long-lasting legacy.
Queen heartbreak: Prince Charles, William and Harry looking at tributes left to Diana (Image: GETTY)
Queen heartbreak: Princess Diana was mourned for en masse (Image: GETTY)
The British public’s reaction to Princess Diana’s death was unlike anything the Royal Family had ever seen.
Thousands of floral tributes and messages were left by mourners at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Candlelit vigils were held by Diana fans who wanted the flag above Buckingham Palace to be raised to half-mast to honour the princess.
While this was not royal protocol, the Royal Family eventually caved to mounting public pressure and pandered to the demand.
In an unprecedented royal move, Princess Diana was even given a state funeral which thousands of mourners turned out to watch.