Princess Diana’s Driver Henri Paul Was Blamed For The Paris Crash

His blood alcohol level was three times France’s legal limit.

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The sixth and final season of The Crown begins in 1997 — the year Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash. The first four episodes explore the lead-up to and fallout from the August 31 accident that also claimed the lives of Diana’s partner, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, who was the acting head of security at the Ritz hotel in Paris.

The Crown’s head of research, Annie Sulzberger, told The New York Times that Scotland Yard’s Operation Paget inquiry was a valuable resource. The extensive report concluded that Paul had been drinking alcohol before the crash, amounting to roughly three times the legal limit in France. According to The New York Times, Paul’s blood alcohol level was between 0.173 and 0.187 percent, indicating that he had consumed about 10 drinks.

Paul “Contributed To” The Crash

A 2008 inquest ruled that Princess Diana and Fayed had been unlawfully killed, with a London jury foreman stating the “crash was caused, or contributed to, by the speed and manner” of Paul’s driving and the “speed and manner” of the paparazzi photographers who pursued them into the road tunnel. (Police estimated Paul was driving at about 90 miles an hour.)

The jury also agreed that Paul’s judgment had been impaired by alcohol when the Mercedes-Benz he was chauffeuring struck a pillar.

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At the time, Princes William and Harry said in a joint statement that they “agree with their verdicts,” thanking the jury for the “thorough way in which they have considered the evidence.” The sole survivor of the crash, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, has also said the accident occurred because Paul “was taking alcohol and was driving the vehicle.”

A former French Air Force captain, Paul had been an exemplary employee at The Ritz for 11 years when he died at age 41. Following his death, Paul’s father, Jean, alleged that his son was “collateral damage of a plot to kill Diana” and claimed his son’s blood samples had been tampered with. (Operation Paget investigated this, but did not find evidence to support the claim.)

Paul’s Brother Blasts The Crown

Though The Crown producers have said they handled Princess Diana’s death with “enormous sensitivity” — and Deadline reported that the actual crash isn’t shown — Paul’s only surviving relative, brother Alain, already condemned the Netflix series in a March 2023 MailOnline interview.

Calling the Netflix dramatization “inhumane,” he claimed that Netflix “did not warn” him that they were “going to bring this tragedy back into the spotlight again.”

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Alain said, “It will bring it all back, the grief, the sadness, the accusations. ... He was not a celebrity. He was an ordinary person who died in an accident at work.” While he’s never seen The Crown, Alain said that he plans to watch Season 6 to see “exactly what they say about my brother Henri and how they treat him.”

Paul’s best friend, Claude Garrec, who played tennis with him the morning before he died, added, “There have always been doubts about what really caused the car crash in Paris that night in 1997. But Henri was made the scapegoat. . . . I will certainly watch the next series of The Crown to see how they treat Henri. But I can guess how they are going to portray him because Netflix have not bothered to contact the people who care about him.”

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