It’s almost been 20 years to the day since Diana, Princess of Wales died in a Paris car crash at the age of 36.
Since that time, fascination with her death has not abated, and numerous conspiracy theories are still being questioned two decades later.
An upcoming three-hour TLC special, titled “Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason?”, is set to examine the theories in full detail and will include multiple interviews with those familiar with the accident and Princess Di herself.
Airing on July 31 at 8 p.m. ET, the show will take a close look at Diana’s life, including her childhood, her oft-rocky marriage to Prince Charles, her role as mother to Princes William and Harry and the unfortunate events of the night she died.
You can also expect new, never-before-seen footage; several subjects will be interviewed, including bodyguard Ken Wharfe, Diana’s friends Mary Robertson and James Colthurst, royal historian Kate Williams, royal biographer Ingrid Seward, journalists Deborah Norville and Tamron Hall, and conspiracy theorist author and “Law & Order: SVU” star Richard Belzer (who now moonlights as a conspiracy theorist author).
Here are some of the conspiracy theories currently floating around about Diana’s death, and they’ll be explored in the TLC special. While the French police and investigators at the time concluded that Diana’s death on Aug. 31, 1997 was an accident, countless people still believe that other factors contributed.
Her driver, Henri Paul, was intoxicated at the time of the crash
In the days following the crash, it was revealed that the driver, Paul, was intoxicated at the time of the crash, and many of the people in his life confirmed he was an alcoholic. Some sources say he had up to eight drinks prior to the accident, while others say six. After closer scrutiny, it was determined that Paul was also taking antidepressants, and these may have counteracted with the alcohol. Regardless of the number of drinks, Paul’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit.
Another conspiracy theory, that Paul was a member of British intelligence sent to purposefully crash the car, has been widely disproven.
Diana was murdered by British intelligence organizations
Mohamed al-Fayed — father to Dodi al-Fayed, who was in the car with Diana and perished along with her — believes strongly that the pair was deliberately murdered. Diana and the younger al-Fayed, who had been famously splayed across tabloid magazines on their various international trips, were rumoured to be causing much dismay among the royal family. Because of that, the theory goes, British intelligence was working to kill them in a clandestine manner.
There has never been any solid evidence of these extreme claims, and the theory has been debunked in the absence of proof.
Diana was pregnant with Dodi al-Fayed’s child
Hand-in-hand with the royal family’s alleged dislike of Diana’s relationship with al-Fayed, another theory believes she was killed because she was pregnant with his child, and they were about to become engaged. The idea of a non-Christian, half-Muslim child within the British royal family was simply too much to bear, supposedly.
John Macnamara, a former senior detective at Scotland Yard and the head of al-Fayed’s own investigation, concluded that there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy to kill Diana or al-Fayed. He also said that there was no proof that the pair was engaged, and medical tests on Diana showed that she was not pregnant.
Paparazzi caused the car to crash
By far the most popular conspiracy theory, it goes that the car in which Diana was being driven went into the pillar of the Alma Tunnel because of swarming paparazzi on motorcycles. One of the lead French investigators, Judge Hervé Stephan, concluded that the paparazzi were actually some distance away from the ill-fated Mercedes, and were not in close enough proximity to cause the crash. However, if the car was speeding in order to avoid the chasing photographers, then that could have played a part in the crash.
Investigators pointed out that Diana was not wearing a seatbelt, and that definitely contributed to her injuries and eventual death.
We may never know what happened on that fateful night, but most of us who were alive at the time will never forget where we were when we found out Princess Diana died.
“Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason?” airs Monday, July 31 at 8 p.m. ET on TLC.