Xavier Gourmelon and a team of French firefighters were called to rescue victims at a car crash in one of the tunnels of Paris. However, none of the firefighters had any inkling of who the victims involved in the accident were. Gourmelon then recognized who the victim of the car crash was and realized the words she had uttered could have been the last!
The team made sure to work as they carefully pulled out a blonde woman out of the wreck. When they got her out, she only had minimal consciousness and kept uttering nearly inaudible words. The firefighter moved closer to hear her better.
A Crash In The Tunnel
The hood of the luxury car was totally destroyed. They could also sense that one of the men inside was already dead. They were trying to determine if anyone had survived inside the vehicle. He noticed the blonde woman who was breathing faintly.
A Mercedes Benz W140
There were 10 firemen who were called to flee to the Pont d’ Alma underpass and Gourmelon was one of them. They were told that there were people inside a Mercedes-Benz W140 that crashed inside the tunnel.
The Mysterious Woman
The woman was in a moderately stable condition when they pulled her out of the car. It was surprising, therefore, to find out that she passed away while in the hospital. Gourmelon had no idea about the woman’s identity as he helped get her out of the car.
He was focused on their task to respond to and rescue the victims of the car crash. It was quite a shock for him when he found out later that the woman he rescued was Diana, Princess of Wales.
It Was All Natural
Diana Spencer was highly familiar with the royal family since she’s been mingling with some members of the aristocracy since she was a child. Her home was located in close proximity to the Sandringham royal estate which gave her the chance to often see when members royal family arrived.
However, she wasn’t as lucky when it came to her studies which she attempted to compensate by working in menial positions. But it seems like Diana was bound for greater and finer things. She later landed herself in a spot that completely transformed hers and her family’s lives.
As Diana grew up, she slowly turned into a charming woman. She had a gentle manner that would eventually attract Charles, Prince of Wales. At the time, Prince Charles was dating Diana’s sister.
Soon after, Diana and Charles got into a serious relationship. Diana married into the royal family in 1981 with a ceremony that aired in various countries around the world. Millions of viewers worldwide watched the wedding from their TV screens and witnessed Diana exchange vows with Prince Charles.
Rules And Traditions
The royal family had rigid rules and traditions that Diana could not completely come to terms with. Initially, one would think that marrying a royal would be a dream. However, the princess later found out that her life would be a nightmare and especially so when she became pregnant with their first child.
Center Of Attention
Diana felt that she was lacking for the position she held and caused her unhappiness. Every step she took was recorded by the media, every movement photographed by the paparazzi who stalked constantly. She was hounded by the media even in intimate settings where she should not expect them.
It All Became Too Much
All of this was too much for Diana. She couldn’t handle the constant pressure all of the time. In later years, Diana would learn that the burden from the spotlight would not be her only source of torture.
What The Public Didn’t Know
Ordinary people would look at her and assume that she had a perfect life. The truth is that it was an ugly mess. Both Diana and her husband were allegedly involved in their own love affairs.
It was revealed the Diana experienced mental breakdowns and an eating disorder. It was a struggle for Diana to keep an optimistic smile to show the public. But she somehow managed to always look happy when out and about.
The Final Straw
Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles was supposedly the final straw. The affair was too out in the open without consideration for Diana’s state of mind. Diana wasn’t able to get over this epic affair.
She Was All Alone
Diana and Charles settled their divorce in 1996 but they already started living separately since 1992. The separation caused Diana so much anguish. She had almost no one to comfort her which caused even more loneliness.
A tabloid paper reported that Diana only had a handful of people she considered true friends. Could you imagine how saddening this must have been? It was a good thing that her romantic life blossomed after the marriage ended.
Many Men In Her Life
It was known that Diana attracted multiple suitors. Even when married, it was reported that she had flings with cavalry officer James Hewitt and a bodyguard named Paul Mannakee. Who was next?
Diana also had to put an end to her affair with James Gilbey, a car dealer, when recordings of Gilbey calling her Squidgy were leaked. The media obviously went crazy with that story as they did with all the others.
Her Life In Private
Diana apparently found happiness when she met heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Their relationship was strictly hidden from the public as she continued to live her life in private. Moreover, Diana revealed to her friends that she found Khan incredibly unique.
A Serious Relationship
She first met the doctor when she paid a visit to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. Khan and Diana’s relationship reportedly developed into a serious one with talks of marriage, the Vanity Fair revealed.
Laying Low, Walking Away
Diana attempted to talk Khan into having a secret wedding, but he rejected that suggestion. He instead proposed for them to move to Pakistan where no one from the media would meddle with their matters. And Diana was said to have sincerely considered the proposal.
Her Friend From Pakistan
Diana opened to her friend Imran Khan, who is now the prime minister of Pakistan, regarding her feelings for the doctor. However, Diana’s relationship with the surgeon eventually dwindled.
In spite of the feelings of regret, Diana carried on with her schedules. She went to the ballet and even paid a visit to Mother Teresa before finally gracing the July 1997 cover of Vanity Fair.
St. Tropez With The Boys
Around that time, Diana was invited by billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed to vacation in St. Tropez. She brought both her sons Prince William and Prince Harry on that holiday where they lodged in Al-Fayed’s villa.
Photos show Diana and William and Harry all having a fabulous time on their trip. It was supposedly during that trip that Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed started their romance. With the sun and the sea on their backs, we bet she felt no worry in the world.
While Diana was on holiday, the press continued to hound her and took photos of her riding a jet ski. In an emergency press briefing, she declared to the reporters that they would be shocked by what she would do next. These words sounded like an ominous prophecy.
Diana and Dodi weren’t complete strangers when they vacationed together in St. Tropez. The two of them in fact mingled with the same circles. The vacation in St. Tropez was just the beginning of their budding relationship.
Since Dodi was the billionaire’s oldest son, he certainly was raised with luxury and extravagance. Dodi took on his own path as a film producer with Chariots of Fire and Hook as one of his well-known projects.
The surgeon revealed to the police that Diana ended their relationship when she landed back in London from St. Tropez. Khan guessed that Diana was already interested in someone else, some from the Al-Fayed circle, maybe.
A Dangerous Path
Khan particularly did not have a high opinion of the Egyptian mogul. He made this known to Diana and how he believed that her relationship with Dodi would be dangerous for her.
Dodi was already engaged but it seemed like he was completely enamored by Diana. To make his intentions about her perfectly clear, the Egyptian magnate’s son showered Diana with a lot of extravagant gifts.
Gifts For The Princess
There was an expensive tropical fruit, the room filled with flowers, and a Cartier watch as well. Diana returned Dodi’s interest and the two started their romance. Diana looked happier than she had in a long time.
How Serious They Were
There are various opinions regarding the seriousness of Diana and Dodi’s relationship in 1997. Vanity Fair disclosed that Dodi was preparing a special ring for the princess. Rumors were spinning out of control on the couple.
An Engagement On The Way
Diana reportedly revealed to her friend Rosa Monckton that she would wear the piece of jewelry on her right hand. Monckton assumed that Diana was only trying to make Khan green with envy. Contrary to Monckton’s belief, Mohamed was convinced that the couple would be announcing their engagement soon.
Simply In Love
No matter what Khan’s shiny present symbolized, it was obvious that Diana and Dodi were having a blast together. By the end of July, the couple had set off to cruise Sardinia. The cameras trailing behind them.
Off To Bosnia
The next month, during an anti-landmine event Diana went to in Bosnia, their paparazzi photos were published showing them cozying up on a yacht. Diana looked fabulous in her white shorts and bronzed skin.
As August was coming to an end, the couple decided to visit France again. They went to Paris and settled at the Hotel Ritz. In a 2019 article from Daily Mirror, it was stated that Dodi personally claimed the ring from the jeweler while Diana stayed in their hotel suite. They had plans to dine at a fancy Benoit restaurant on August 30, 1997.
The Matter With The Paparazzi
There was a sudden change of plans when they realized more than two dozen photographers were stalking them on the way to the restaurant. They went back to their hotel and had dinner at the Ritz’s L’Espadon restaurant.
While they were being led to their table, Dodi was nervous about the paparazzi masquerading as guests. The two had no other choice but to go back to their suite. They were getting frustrated by the annoying pap.
Stalked Once Again
After they had dinner, Diana and Dodi agreed to visit Dodi’s apartment near Champs-Élysées and spend the night there. But they had one huge problem. The paparazzi easily tracked them when they left the hotel for dinner earlier.
They Held A Stakeout
For sure, photographers were holding a stakeout and waiting for them to step out of the building. The two had conjured a complicated plan to escape. The gist of the plan was that two vehicles would act as decoy and exit through the front.
Meanwhile, the hotel’s deputy security head would chauffeur the couple even though he had the night off. Paul would drive through a rear exit with Diana, Dodi, and their bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. By the time they hatched the plan, it was only a few hours before the sun started to rise on the 31st of August.
The Ill-Fated Night
The car quickly drove off in the dark, but some photographers picked up on their plan and had followed their vehicle. In an investigation, paparazzi claimed that they made a failed attempt to “block” the Mercedes.
Paul was crossing lanes and pressing his foot on the pedal to get away from the pesky camera crews. They were trying to slow down the car but Paul continued driving at roughly 65 mph. That was when disaster happened.
As the vehicle sped down the tunnel, Paul suddenly lost control. It was in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France that Paul hit the wall and spun out of control, crashing the vehicle.
The Cause Of The Crash
When looking for a cause of the crash investigators concluded that photographers weren’t near enough to have directly caused it. Therefore, the investigation pointed to Paul who was apparently intoxicated with more than three times the legal alcohol limit.
The Mercedes smashed into one of the pillars on a median with so much force that killed Paul in an instant. Despite the tragic accident and enormous damage to the car, the paparazzi chose to take photographs instead of attempting to help the passengers trapped inside.
Luckily, someone had to the sense to call an emergency line thus a team of firefighters at a nearby station was first to respond. These firefighters hd no clue what they were about to find at the crash site.
Gourmelon led the team that was stationed for that night. He would reveal to The Sun in 2017 what his team discovered. Gourmelon recounted it like this: “The car was in a mess, and we just dealt with it like any road accident.”
Who Was Involved?
“…We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive.” When a bad accident happens it’s often difficult to recognize both the people involved and the car itself. It’s no wonder
The former firefighter further added, “For me, this was simply a banal traffic accident – one of many that emergency services have to deal with – and it was the usual causes: speed and a drunk driver.”
Nothing More To Do
They instantly knew that Paul couldn’t be saved anymore. He told the newspaper, “When I got to the car, I could see the driver was already dead, and there was nothing that could be done for him.”
Saving The Remaining Passengers
Unfortunately, Dodi had the same fate even though he was sitting at the back. He got a heart attack inside the car and the paramedics would later announce his time of death when his body was out of the vehicle.
Rees-Jones sustained grave injuries but would luckily survive the crash. During the time they were trapped inside, his immediate concern was Diana’s safety. Diana’s bodyguard wouldn’t relax, he just wanted to know Diana’s status.
According to reports, Rees-Jones asked about Diana over and over again despite warnings from the firefighters to calm himself down. Gourmelon finally told the bodyguard that none of them spoke English and forced him to sit still.
Gourmelon was the one to see to Diana whom he did not recognize immediately. She was just a blonde woman that night. He assessed that she would survive since she was conscious and kept her eyes open.
He Was Clueless
She was found lying on the floor attempting to move. When they found her, they immediately got her out. Gourmelon supplied Diana with oxygen while they geared themselves to move her out. Gourmelon was absolutely clueless about her identity.
He told The Sun, “It was only when she had been put into the ambulance that one of the paramedics told me it was [Princess Diana].” In that same interview, the ex-firefighter shared what Diana told him.
Diana was still conscious while the saw to her injuries and had muttered something. It could have been the last words she ever said. The abruptness of the accident had shaken her and she asked, “My God, what’s happened?”
Dazed And Confused
Diana was just as shocked when the crash happened as Gourmelon and the fellow firefighters were. Gourmelon did not talk about his response if there was one but talked about what happened afterward.
“I gave [Diana] some oxygen, and my team and I stayed by her side as she was taken out of the car. It was very quick because we didn’t have to cut any of the wreckage.” As Diana was getting transferred to a stretcher, the princess had a heart attack.
A Heart Attack
Gourmelon responded straight away and he thought it was working well. He narrated to The Sun “I massaged her heart, and a few seconds later she started breathing again.” At that moment he felt relief that everything would be okay.
A First Responder’s Duty
He went on, “It was a relief, of course, because as a first responder you want to save lives – and that’s what I thought I had done.” Little did he know, something major would happen just a few short minutes later.
No Severe Injuries
Gourmelon and his team had high hopes that the princess would really survive. They did not see any blood and the only injury they could pinpoint was in her shoulders which did not seem completely life-threatening.
Her Fate Awaits
He thought that they were successful in bringing Diana to safety; the rest of the team did too. They loaded her into the ambulance and off she went to the hospital where her fate awaited her.
A Big Shock
Gourmelon was positive about Diana’s chances for survival. “To be honest, I thought she would live.” They loaded her into the ambulance but some time after it drove off towards the hospital, the team received the news.
She Passed Away
After the ambulance carrying Diana left the scene of the car crash, the firefighter called his wife to tell her what happened. He shared, “[My wife] was asleep, and I told her about the accident and Princess Diana. I said that she had suffered a cardiac arrest, but I’d managed to revive her.”
The Princess Is Gone
That’s when the terrible news came. They received the message at around four in the morning. Princess Diana and Dodi were both killed in the Paris car crash. The world was shocked when they woke up to the papers.
The World Was Distraught
Understandably, the UK and the world as a whole were distraught over Princess Diana’s sudden death. The entire world was in mourning and shock after hearing about the Royals’ loss.
Everyone’s hearts went out to Diana’s young boys, William and Harry. The devastation these boys must have felt when they received the awful news is something we can’t even begin to imagine. The entire Royal family was deeply saddened by the news.
Two Decades Of Silence
Gourmelon kept mum about that ill-fated August night for twenty years. He only talked about the accident after he retired from service. For him, it was still a clear memory despite the years that passed.
The firefighter claimed, “I can still picture the whole scene. It’s something I’ll never forget and that I always think about at this time of year.” With the sorrow and the buzz around the deaths, it’s no wonder Gourmelon went into his shell.
This was not the only secret that was revealed after Diana’s death, predictably. There are stories regarding an incident that happened before her wedding ceremony. As she waited for the signal to start her walk down the aisle, Diana allegedly said four words. These four words might touch your heart.
Looking back, Princess Diana messing up her wedding vows could have been a clear sign her marriage wasn’t going to make it. However, in reality, she was simply nervous about her wedding day. While reciting her vows, she called her husband “Philip Charles” instead of “Charles Philip”. All she did was mix up his first and middle name.
The very first interview Charles and Diana gave once they became engaged in 1981 had a pretty awkward moment. This might have been yet another sign that they weren’t going to end up well. When the interviewer asked the two if they were in love, Charles turned to Diana as if he looked to see what she would say. “Of course,” she said with a scoff. Charles then said, “Well, whatever in love means.” Yikes.
A lot of what we know about Princess Diana’s personal life is due to the audiotapes she herself recorded. Once she realized her marriage to Prince Charles was falling apart, she recorded her side of the story on a series of tapes. She then gave them to her close friend, Dr. James Colthurst. He then gave them to journalist Andrew Morton. From them, Morton published the biography DIANA: Her True Story—In Her Own Words in 1992. Until after she died, no one knew Diana had a hand in the book’s production.
While there are certainly ways to improve your relationship with your sister, but we don’t know if sharing a boyfriend is one of them. Before Diana and Charles were going steady, he had dated her sister, Sarah. She’s the one who introduced the two when Diana was only 16 and takes credit for them falling in love. She even called herself Cupid.
In The Kitchen
It was against royal family etiquette to eat in the kitchen itself with staffers instead of in a dining room. Still, Princess Diana was no stranger to breaking protocol. Her personal chef, Darren McGrady, has said she would walk into the kitchen and eat at a countertop while he cleaned up. She would even make the two of them coffee.
Taking Her Own Life
One of the saddest revelations from the tapes is that she struggled with depression and even went so far as attempting to take her own life. In her recordings, she said, “I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades.” On top of that, she also spoke about having bulimia and how the eating disorder began once Prince Charles put his hand on her waist and said, “A bit chubby here, aren’t we?”
Over the past few years, Prince William and Prince Harry have opened up more about the memories they have of their mother. While some are uplifting, others aren’t as much. They spoke about how involved Diana was in her charitable work. They also spoke about her dealings with the paparazzi, and it’s disturbing. Prince William once said: “If you are the Princess of Wales and you’re a mother, I don’t believe being chased by 30 guys on motorbikes who block your path, who spit at you to get a reaction from you and make a woman cry in public to get a photograph, is appropriate. Harry and I, we had to live through that.”
Princess Diana’s wedding gown looked like it was taken straight from a fairytale. The only exception? The perfume she spilled on it moments before she had to walk down the aisle. Makeup artist Barbara Daly said that when Diana was going to dab on some of her favorite scent, she accidentally doused part of her gown with it. The solution? Diana lifted her dress. While it might have looked like she did so to avoid tripping on it, it was actually to cover the perfume spot with her hand.
The Shrinking Woman
To get Princess Diana’s wedding dress perfect, it took no less than 15 fittings. In the end, her designers, Elizabeth and David Emanuel said they needed to sew her into the dress since she had lost so much weight from the time of her initial fitting. Diana went from having a 29-inch waist to a tiny 23.5-inch one. “Every time she turned up for a fitting, she had lost more weight,” Elizabeth said. “We put it down to nerves. But it did make it incredibly difficult for us to get on with making the dress. We had to keep taking the bodice in and changing the pattern. The last thing we wanted was to make it up in silk, then have to play around with that.”
The lace on Diana’s wedding dress was more than just old. It was really, really old. It was sourced from antique scraps bought at auctions by her dress designers. The fabrics were identified as Carrickmacross lace. This fabric dates all the way back to Queen Mary’s day.
There was a secret romantic gesture hidden underneath Diana’s handcrafted wedding shoes. Since the top of the shoe featured an elaborate heart, it was fitting that on the sole, Diana had a custom “C” and “D” painted on by the shoemaker, Clive Shilton. He said, No one even saw the bottom of the shoes, but it was important to us that they looked fantastic. You would have seen much more of them if she’d tripped!”
At their royal wedding, there were a whopping 27 wedding cakes to celebrate Charles and Diana’s marriage. However, it was the 5-foot tall cake made by the Naval Armed Forces that Charles sliced with a ceremonial sword. Aside from the usual icing, it was decorated with Prince Charles’ coat of arms, the Spencer family crest, the initials “C” and “D”, and was topped off with flowers like roses, lilies of the valley, and orchids.
Diana and Charles became the first British royal couple to break tradition by not including “obey” in their wedding vows. Aside from that, Diana didn’t vary much from the traditional promise to “love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and health”.
Before Diana and Charles got married in 1981, a British citizen hadn’t married an heir to the throne since 1660. Diana wouldn’t be the last commoner, either. Prince William’s wife – the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was a commoner as well. Not to mention, Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, was also a commoner.
Princess Diana’s iconic wedding dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel for Alexander McQueen. It was embellished with 10,000 pearls and had a 25-foot train. This is the longest train in royal history. The Princess accessorized the gown with an 18th-century heirloom tiara, a 153-yard veil, and silk shoes that had 542 sequins and 132 pearls.
Diana’s famous engagement ring, a 12-carat sapphire set with 14 diamonds and a white gold band, was chosen from a Garrard jewelry catalog. This is one of the few royal rings that weren’t custom-made. It’s been said that it reminded Diana of her mother’s wedding ring. Now, the sapphire beauty is worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
The royal couple forgot to kiss after reciting their wedding vows, so they made up for it with a public display of affection on a balcony outside of Buckingham Palace. Their kiss created a tradition that has continued to this day.
Diana’s dress designers created two umbrellas for her in case of rain. They were both white and ivory so they wouldn’t reveal the color of the dress for her big day. Both umbrellas were adorned with lace, sequins, and pearls so they matched her dress. However, in 2017, Elizabeth Emmanuel said she was grateful they didn’t have to be used, since “it was made of such light material that it certainly wasn’t waterproof. It wouldn’t have done her much good.”
Three Wedding Dresses
In addition to her original wedding dress, the Emmanuels made one duplicate as well as a backup dress for the Princess in case the gown was leaked or damaged. While the duplicate is displayed at Madame Tussauds, the alternate vanished after the wedding. “It was hanging up in the studio for a long time, and then it disappeared,” Elizabeth Emmanuel said. “I don’t know if we sold it or put it into storage. It was such a busy time. I’m sure it’ll turn up in a bag one day!”
The night before the big day, the then 32-year-old groom, Prince Charles, asked his now-former valet, Stephen something about love. It was said that Prince Charles stood at a window overlooking crowds of people lining up outside the cathedral ahead of the wedding. He then shared his thoughts with Stephen. “Stephen,” he asked his valet, “Is it possible to love two women at the same time?”
Neither Wanted It
Diana was 20 at the time of her engagement and it’s been said that she confided in her family that she didn’t want to go through with the wedding. At one point on the tapes she had recorded, she described a moment that happened just after her engagement to Prince Charles. She told her sisters she wanted to call off the engagement. “I went upstairs, had lunch with my sisters who were there, and I said, ‘I can’t marry him. I can’t do this. This is absolutely unbelievable.’ And they were wonderful and said, ‘Well, bad luck, Duch. Your face is on the tea towel, so you’re too late to chicken out,’” Princess Diana said.
Leading up to the wedding, there were plenty of rehearsals in place. In fact, the first rehearsal they had was 47 days before the big day. If you were getting married in front of the entire world, you’d want a lot of practice too!
Her Wedding Day
As we know, Princess Diana wasn’t all too convinced about her relationship with Prince Charles. We know she didn’t want to go through with the wedding. Well, after they did get married, how did she look back on her wedding day? Later on, Diana was heard talking about her wedding day, calling it “the worst day of my life.”
While we know that Princess Diana and Prince Charles weren’t right for each other, their problems didn’t take long to appear. In fact, they started on their honeymoon. According to the royal author, Penny Junor, while the couple was on board the Royal Yacht Britannia for a 14-day cruise of the Mediterranean, the Prince decided to catch up on some reading. Diana wasn’t too happy that he wanted to read instead of pay attention to her. Junor explained that “Diana was no great reader and was offended that he should prefer to bury his head in a book rather than sit and talk to her.”
Throughout the years, things went from bad to worse for the royal couple. There were public scandals, mudslinging, and explosive tell-all interviews. All this went on until August 28, 1996, when the Prince and the Princess got a divorce. Tragically, Diana was killed in a car crash just a year later.