What Happened In The Next 24 Hours After the death of Princess Diana

The first 24 hours after the death of Princess Diana saw a flurry of unprecedented activity across the globe as her family, friends and fans reacted to her sudden and tragic death.

Immediate practicalities, such as informing the mother-of-two’s young sons of her death and arranging to bring her body back to Britain, fell to her former husband Prince Charles.

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Princess Diana and Harrods-heir Dodi Fayed in a lift in the Paris Ritz, hours before both were killed in a high-speed car chase

Within 12 hours the Prince, whose divorce from Diana had been finalised in August 1996, flew to Paris with her sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had been in the job for only a few months, harnessed public feeling by paying tribute to “the people’s princess.” Meanwhile what would become a veritable ocean of flowers had started growing at the gates of Kensington Palace as Britain grieved for its favourite royal.

How Diana Died: A Timeline Of Her Fatal Crash And Final Hours In Paris

Here’s how things unfolded

00.25: The Mercedes crashes into the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel at 120mph, killing Paul and Fayed. Rees-Jones and the princess are seriously injured. Photographer Romauld Rat arrives within seconds to be the first on the scene.

00.26: Emergency doctor Frederic Mailliez is driving by when he spots the crashed Mercedes. He is the first doctor on the scene and makes the first call to the authorities.

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The wrecked Mercedes in which Diana, Fayed and driver Henri Paul lost their lives. The Princess’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the only survivor 

00.28-00.30: First two police officers arrive and start to cordon off the accident from gathering paparazzi.

00.32: Fire engine and ambulances arrive. Eight paparazzi are arrested at the scene and taken in for questioning.

00.54: French news agencies report Diana has been seriously injured in a car crash in which another person has died.

00.58: Reuters cites police sources as claiming Diana has been seriously injured in a car crash.

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Ambulances at the scene of the accident in the Pont D’Alma tunnel 

01.15: Police confirm Fayed and the driver were killed in the accident, Reuters reports. A spokesman says a fourth person, one of the princess’s bodyguards was injured and has been freed from the wreckage.

01.25: One hour after the crash, Princess Diana’s ambulance leaves for hospital. She has already suffered a heart attack.

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Fayed, seen on the night of his death, was killed instantly in the crash 

01.54: AP files copy stating Diana has been seriously injured in the crash and that Fayed, as well as their chauffeur has been killed.

01.55: Princess Diana’s ambulance stops for five minutes so medics can inject adrenaline into her body.

02.06: The ambulance arrives at Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital. She receives open heart massage for almost two hours.

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The Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital where Diana was pronounced dead at 4am local time 

02.18: PA reports Diana has been seriously injured and that Fayed and their driver has been killed. It tells of a “high-speed pursuit” ending in the fatal crash.

02.37: Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary release a statement to say they are “very concerned” about the accident, Reuters reports.

03.03: Prime Minister Tony Blair is woken to be informed of the accident, a Downing Street spokesman tells PA. Government sources tell the agency Sir Michael Jay, the British Ambassador in Paris has taken control of the situation “in regards to the well-being” of the princess.

03.07: Mohammed Fayed’s spokesman Michael Cole says the Harrods owner is on his way to Paris by helicopter. He does not confirm reports his employer’s son has died.

BBC
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook responds to the Princess’s death in Manila

03.11: British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook tells reporters in Manila: “I think it will be doubly tragic if it does emerge that this accident was in part caused by the persistent hounding the princess and her privacy by photographers.”

03.23: Reports from AFP and Radio France Info claim Diana is suffering from concussion, a broken arm and cuts to one of her thighs.

03.47: Prince Charles is telephoned at the Royal Family’s summer home in Balmoral to be informed Diana has been injured in an accident, Reuters reports. A spokesman says: “We are aware of this awful accident but we are awaiting further details about what has happened.”

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Prince Charles, who was holidaying at his family summer home in Balmoral with Princes William and Harry (pictured here a fortnight before the accident) was contacted to be informed his former wife had been injured in a car accident. She died around ten minutes later. 

04.00: Princess Diana is declared dead (03.00 BST.)

04.41: The Press Association issues the following newsflash: Diana, Princess of Wales, has died according to British sources.

04.43: Citing Sky sources, Reuters reports Princess Diana has died.

04.43: AP reports Princess Diana has died, citing the Press Association.

04.50: Reuters cites a French Foreign Minister as confirming Diana has died.

04.59: Doctors tell a news conference at the hospital that Diana died after going into cardiac arrest.

05.25: Buckingham Palace publicly confirms the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. BBC Radio’s Andrew Crawford said: “The Queen and Prince Philip are deeply shocked and distressed by this terrible news. Other members of the Royal Family are being informed of the Princess’s death.

06:30: Fayed arrives at the hospital wearing dark glasses.

BBC
BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond cut short a family holiday to broadcast live from studios in London 

06.45: BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond, spirited back to London from a family holiday in Devon, begins broadcasting live..

07.15: Prince Charles wakes up William and tells him his mother has died. Together they go to 12-year-old Harry’s room to give him the news.

PA
Prime Minister Tony Blair addresses the nation from his home village in Trimdon near Newcastle. It was this speech in which he coined the term ‘people’s princess’ 

10.15: Tony Blair gives his now infamous ‘People’s Princess’ speech outside a church in his Sedgefield constituency in the rain. The new Prime Minister’s address, scribbled on the back of an envelope, was watched by millions.

11.00: Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer gives a statement outside his South Africa home, stating: “I always believed the press would kill her in the end. Not even I would imagine that they would take such a direct hand in her death as seems to be the case.”

GETTY
Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer turns away from the press after reading a brief statement about his sister’s death at the entrance to his home in Constntia, Cape Town 

11.25: The Royal Family arrives at Crathie Church near Balmoral to attend their regular Sunday service.

12.00: Hundreds of bouquets begin appearing at the gates of Kensington Palace.

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Flowers and tributes begin to appear at the gates of Kensington Palace 

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Mourners also lay flowers at Buckingham Palace 

16.00: Prince Charles flies to Paris on a private plane with Diana’s sisters Lady Jane and Lady Sarah.

17.40: Charles, Jane and Sarah arrive at the hospital where the 36-year-old’s body lies. They are met by French President Jacques Chirac and his wife Bernadette.

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Prince Charles arrives in France with Diana’s sisters Lady Sarah and Lady Jane 

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The sisters appeared visibly upset as her body left the hospital 

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Pallbearers carry the Royal Standard-covered coffin containing the body of Diana from the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris 

18.10: Diana’s coffin is placed in a hearse and driven to an airfield in Paris.

19.00: Prince Charles’s plane, carrying the body of Princess Diana, arrives at RAF Northold airbase where he is met by Prime Minister Blair.

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The coffin is carried off the plane at RAF Northolt 

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