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Journalist had to ‘decode’ news of Princess Diana’s condition from French authorities

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Journalist who was one of the first to arrive at the scene of Princess Diana’s fatal car accident in Paris 24 years ago, claims he had to ‘decipher’ news of her condition from French authorities

  • Tuesday marks the 24th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death in a fatal car accident in Paris
  • Former Paris correspondent Kevin Connolly was one of the first journalists on the scene
  • Claimed the real feeling that Diana had died came only ‘quite slow’










An ex-journalist reporting from Paris on the night Princess Diana died claimed he had to “decipher” news of the late Princess of Wales’s condition from French authorities.

The late mother of Prince William and Harry was killed on August 31, 1997 at the age of 36, and Tuesday marks the 24th anniversary of the fatal car accident in Paris.

But according to ex-Paris correspondent Kevin Connolly, who was one of the first journalists on the scene, the real sense that Diana had died came “quite slowly.”

‘[We were] listening very carefully to the French authorities and trying to decipher what they were telling us,” he told The Express. “The police were very careful with the stories they released.”

Former Paris correspondent Kevin Connolly, who was reporting from Paris on the night Princess Diana died, claimed he had to “decipher” news of the late Princess of Wales’s condition from French authorities. Pictured, at the London premiere of the movie ‘Superman IV’ in July 1987

A French police expert working on the wreckage of Princess Diana's car in Paris' Alma tunnel on August 31, 1997

A French police expert working on the wreckage of Princess Diana’s car in Paris’ Alma tunnel on August 31, 1997

“The first word from police and hospital sources was ‘yes, it’s the Princess of Wales, yes, she’s injured’, but there’s no point in the wee hours of the morning that she might have been mortally wounded.

On reflection, the journalist believes that the French authorities were “shocked” by having to deal with such a great tragedy.

“They were aware of the global scale of what the response will be – they were aware of the global intensity of interest,” he added.

It wasn’t until seven years after the crash that Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, was asked to investigate several questions.

Pictured: The highly anticipated bronze statue was unveiled last month in a special ceremony attended by her sons Prince William and Prince Harry in the sunken garden of Kensington Palace

Pictured: The highly anticipated bronze statue was unveiled last month in a special ceremony attended by her sons Prince William and Prince Harry in the sunken garden of Kensington Palace

These include – was Diana pregnant at the time of her death? Did the blood sample attributed to Henri Paul really come from him? And was there any valid justification for excluding a white Fiat Uno from being involved in the collision?

Connolly claimed that news of the tragic death of the royal family only trickled through reporters on the flight to Paris from Secretary of State Robin Cook in the Philippines.

Describing it as a ‘quite fraught’ and ‘cautious’ evening, he recalled: ‘The night is a haze until the time when the pips go at the start of a special program and you are the person to say the princess of Wales has passed away.’

“I probably remember that one moment the best of my entire long life in broadcasting.”

The Princess ff Wales and Princes William and Harry attend the 50th anniversary celebration of The Vj Day in London

The Princess ff Wales and Princes William and Harry attend the 50th anniversary celebration of The Vj Day in London

A statue of Diana, Princess of Wales will be specially opened to benefactors to mark the first anniversary of her death since the highly anticipated monument was unveiled.

Due to the pandemic, Kensington Palace and its gardens have limited opening days and are usually only open to the public Wednesday through Sunday.

But Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) said special arrangements had been made to allow visitors to see the statue from 3-5pm Tuesday from the Cradle Walk around Sunken Garden, where it stands.

The bronze tribute was finally unveiled by the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex together – despite their troubled relationship – at a ceremony last month on what would have been their mother’s 60th birthday.

An HRP spokesperson said: ‘We recognize that there will be interest in viewing the statue that day.

‘So we’re providing access to the Cradle Walk, essentially the beautiful walkway around the Sunken Garden.

‘We are going to make it freely accessible to passers-by or anyone who wants to take a break that Tuesday, especially for the anniversary.’

Entry to the Cradle Walk is free and does not require reservations, but benefactors will not be able to leave flowers at the base of the statue or approach it.

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