18 years ago today, we were some of the first people in the world to learn of the shocking car accident that claimed three lives in Paris.
No one could quite believe the news that Diana, Princess of Wales, had died in the crash, alongside her partner, Mohammed Al Fayed, and the driver of the car, Henri Paul.
I still remember driving to work that afternoon, and the nondescript street I pulled into as the news reader shared what little details they had: Lady Diana. High speed chase. Involved paparazzi.
The party had left the Ritz hotel, owned by the Al Fayed family, who also owned Harrod’s of course, just after midnight. Their Mercedes was pursued by photographers and reporters on motorbikes.
The car entered a tunnel, hit a barrier and then spun across the tunnel and into a wall.
We didn’t know it yet but the couple’s bodyguard, British ex-serviceman Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the incident despite serious injuries.
The journalists who had given chase reached the car, joined by emergency services minutes later. The Princess was cut from the car and taken to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital where surgeons worked for an hour to save her. She was pronounced dead at 3pm British time.
As the news unravelled in Britain mourners gathered outside Kensington Palace, the Princess’s London residence, leaving floral tributes. Who can forget the ocean of flowers that grew there.
Over the next few weeks and months, the story unravelled. Allegations flew, conspiracy theories grew.
Today, we remember the shocking news of Diana’s death and the sheer loss of someone who could have done so much more, someone who, at just 37 years old, with two young boys at home, was taken far too soon.
Here are some moments from her last year with us.
Where were you when you heard about Diana’s death? What was your reaction?