Joined: 13 Feb 2006
|Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 7:50 am Post subject: Review: Who killed Diana?
|Review: Who killed Diana?
Written by Laura Burley
Tuesday, 22 August 2006
In the immediate and longterm aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, here in the UK we were treated to many tribute programmes about the life and times of "The People's Princess".
So many programmes were aired that we royal fans were hard pressed to find enough tapes on which to record them. There was even a time, especially on the first anniversary of Diana's death, when the volume of new documentaries meant we had to pick and choose which to watch on any one day.
But, as the years passed and Diana faded from the minds of some (but certainly not all), those tribute programmes — recalling the good works of Diana — have been gradually dropped from the schedules. Today, we're mainly offered programmes on the crash and the conspiracy theories which continue to swirl around the events of August 31st 1997.
And so it was that I sat down in a cynical mood to watch the latest documentary offering 'the truth' about the event which shocked us all.
However, after viewing the almost hour-long documentary, I have to admit I was surprised by the result.
Sky One's Who Killed Diana? was packed full of computer animations and reconstructions and was, in my opinion, the best of the Diana crash investigations we've seen on TV in the past nine years.
The programme began with the viewer being taken along the exact route that Diana and Dodi drove down on that fatefull night, offering the viewer a powerful sense of what the couple would have seen in the last moments of their lives.
Computer graphics showed us what happened to the black Mercedes car as it struck the 13th pillar in the Alma tunnel and how it came to rest. Again, this clarified some points which I misunderstood when reading about the crash. Knowing the fate of the occupants, it was heartbreaking to see.
A British expert in the impact of a car crash on the human body was an especially insightful interviewee. Dr Vic Callard explained how it was that Diana, who initially seemed to have survived the crash, could not have survived the resulting internal injuries, saying of the Princess: "The way her heart travelled across her chest caused the tear in the pulnerary vein."
He also stated that because Diana and their bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones were seated on the right hand side of the car, they survived the crash, the major impact having been to the opposite side of the car. But the injuries sustained by Diana were caused because her body continued on the trajectory, resulting in major damage to her heart.
The Doctor also repeated the widely held belief of medical professionals that, had Diana worn her seatbelt, she would have very likely survived. The seatbelt would have taken much of the strain of the impact, rather than causing the rip to the heart which ultimately killed the Princess.
One of the main questions asked by the documentary was whether Diana would have survived had she been taken to the hospital quicker.
According to Dr. Callard: "Frankly, she needed to be in the hospital operating theatre within five to six minutes after the accident for a really good chance of survival. She had not had cardiac output since the time she came out of the vechile. She was effectively long dead. But it takes an awful lot of courage for someone to turn around and say the Princess of Wales has died."
The conclusion appears to be that even if the ambulance carrying Diana had got to the hospital within ten minutes of the crash it still would have been too late. Diana had little chance of surviving. And the two hours of internal and external heart massage was, rather harshly, pointless. The Princess's life was ebbing away and not even the exhaustive attempts of some of the top medics in France could help save her.
Dr. Callard added that considering the state of the car, and the bodies surrounding Diana in every direction, emergency workers could not have extracted her from the vehicle any quicker and that the correct procedures were undertaken.
Speaking as a fan of the Princess, I found one of the saddest parts of the documentary to be the footage of the ambulance in which Diana was being treated. Although naturally the Princess is not visible, we could clearly see the paramedic working on Diana inside the vehicle, a French plain clothes policeman stood alongside the ambulance, speaking into a mobile phone. We can only wonder whether he was explaining why it was taking so long for the Princess to be transported to the hospital?
The show also touches on the question of whether driver Henri Paul's blood was tampered with inside the morgue, as conspiracy theorists have long believed to be the case. However, as the programme noted, the second time a blood sample was taken the process was filmed from start to finish.
I personally believe no such tampering occurred, but it's clear this is one issue on which there will continue to be much speculation.
The documentary makers took the perhaps controversial decision to focus on the embalming of the Princess. I have to admit that I found this aspect of the programme of interest as they looked into the possibility of whether Diana was — as Mohammed Al Fayed has repeatedly claimed — pregnant at the time she died.
Robert Thompson, the manager of the Fulham Mortuary to which Diana's body was taken following arrival back in the UK, witnessed the autoposy which took place and is adamant that the embalming was only partial, thereby ruling out speculation that the Princess's body was embalmed to 'cover-up' pregnancy: "Full embalming did not take place. What we saw was that the neck had been packed with cotton wool soaked in embalming fluid, persumably to preserve the head."
As already reported here, this was done for purely cosmetic reasons, as was the packing of the Princess's chest.
On the issue of a possible embalming to cover up a pregancy Mr Thompson explained that the torso and the legs were not embalmed and therefore would not have invalidated any pregnancy test. Asked if Diana was pregnant, Thompson replied: "The pathologist divided the uterus and said she was not pregnant....I saw no evidence of pregnancy on the body so I must conclude she was not pregnant."
I personally feel this lays to rest the pregnancy rumours once and for all, although again it's likely to be an ongoing source of speculation and intrigue to many.
What perplexed and rather angered me was the presence of Simone Simmons on the documentary. As she admitted during an interview earlier this year, she had not spoken to Diana since May 1997, so how on earth did Sky One think she was qualified to talk about how the Princess was using Dodi to make her former boyfriend (and great love of her life?) Dr. Hasnat Khan jealous?
In contrast to that of Diana's former bodyguard Ken Wharfe, who spoke with knowledge about the issue of the Princess's security, the appearance of Simone Simmones was an irritant as she had little to add to an otherwise exhaustively researched and fascinating documentary.
The writers and producers did an excellent job of presenting the facts without going over the top and trying to incite controversy, as so many other programmes have appeared to do. I believe it was a balanced view and feel it was written with great care and respect for the Princess's sons and family.
Who Killed Diana? is essential viewing for anyone interested in a balanced view of the accident which continues to cause shockwaves to this day.
Diana, Princess of Wales is and always will be The People's Princess.