THE DEATH OF DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES
(August 31, 1997 — Paris, France)
Pont de l’Alma
The Official Story
PONT DE L’ALMA
The Pont de l’Alma (English: Alma Bridge) is a road bridge in Paris, France across the Seine. It was named to commemorate the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War, in which the Ottoman-Franco-British alliance achieved victory over the Russian army, on 20 September 1854.
Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
The bridge is close to the Pont de l’Alma tunnel where Diana, Princess of Wales and three others were involved in a fatal car crash on 31 August 1997. They were being chased by paparazzi, and their chauffeur was driving under the influence of alcohol. The Flame of Liberty (completed in 1987), at the bridge’s north end has become an unofficial memorial to Diana. The square is now officially named place Diana. The tunnel is known as an accident black spot from 1982 to 1997 as there were 11 deaths in the area.
Absence of CCTV images
The absence of CCTV images showing the Mercedes’s journey from the hotel to the crash site has been frequently cited as evidence of an organised conspiracy. According to The Independent newspaper in 2006, there were more than 14 CCTV cameras in the Pont de l’Alma underpass, though none recorded footage of the fatal collision.
Judge Hervé Stéphan was appointed as Examining Magistrate in this case on 2 September 1997. On that day, by Judicial Order, he tasked the Brigade Criminelle with identifying all video and photographic images along the route taken by the Mercedes. Lieutenant Eric Gigou of the Brigade Criminelle led the team that carried out that work, initially by retracing the route several times and drawing up a list of possible locations. His report showed that the team identified ten locations of CCTV cameras. None of these had any images relevant to the inquiry, since they were principally security cameras facing the entrances to buildings. Most of the cameras were not maintained by the City of Paris; the owners of the buildings to which they were attached operated them privately. There was a traffic-monitoring camera above the underpass in the Place de l’Alma itself but this was under the control of la Compagnie de Circulation Urbaine de Paris (Paris Urban Traffic Unit). That department closed down at about 11 p.m., had no night duty staff and made no recordings. Officers in the Police Headquarters Information and Command Centre could continue to view the pictures shown by the traffic camera in real time but could not control it.
The subject of the CCTV cameras is dealt with in Chapter 5 of the Operation Paget report. It was also found that a photograph that was published in a book by David Cohen Diana, Death of a Goddess and captioned as having been taken just before the car entered the tunnel was in fact taken by a photographer as the car left the back of the Paris Ritz.