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Diana and Dodi in the Ritz

The final movements of Diana, Princess of Wales, preparing for the car journey that would kill her were shown in public for the first time yesterday.

Grainy images showed her laughing and chatting with Dodi Fayed as they walked past a succession of CCTV cameras in the Paris Ritz hotel on the afternoon and evening of August 30, 1997. The inquest jury was asked to watch jerky footage from 31 of the hotelís 43 cameras in various rooms, corridors and a lift at the hotel.

The video began with the arrival of paparazzi outside the hotel at 3.55pm. The Princess was shown avoiding them by arriving at the rear entrance at 4.30pm. The couple had flown in from Sardinia that afternoon.

The Princess, wearing a light-coloured jacket, was shown climbing the stairs joined by Mr Fayed and her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones. She smiled and turned to face Mr Fayed as they walked to the imperial suite, where the Princess was staying.

The couple disappeared and the Princess did not reappear until 6.53pm, when she and Mr Fayed went out for the evening.

The Princess, still wearing a pale jacket and with sunglasses perched on the top of her head, left her suite shortly before 7pm. She and Mr Fayed, smiling and laughing, descended in the lift and made their way to their Mercedes, at the rear entrance of the hotel. The couple returned to the hotel for the last time at 9.49pm, when they were ambushed by about a dozen photographers. Two young girls looked on as the Princess, now wearing a black jacket and white trousers, pushed her way, head down, through the revolving doors. She and Mr Fayed visited the restaurant for nine minutes before returning to her suite.

The Princess and Dodi Fayed stand inside the back service entrance to the Ritz, a doorway more used to kitchen porters passing through than shiny celebrities. As security men clamp mobile phones to their ears, for news that the coupleís Mercedes has arrived, the wait seems interminable.

Their body language is of a couple who have just, or will soon, enjoy intimacy. The Princess, in characteristic pose, inclines her blonde head slightly to her left; Dodi, nuzzling up to her, grasps her left hand folded round her back and occasionally strokes the base of her spine. In her other hand she holds his cigar box.

The Princess is dressed in a dark blazer and white trousers, Dodi in a brown casual jacket. As the view is from the back, their expressions are largely unseen, but a ten-minute wait for a car would normally have a former member of the Royal Family in a strop.

Around them fusses Henri Paul, head of security at the Ritz, and Trevor Rees-Jones (now called Trevor Rees), their bodyguard. All move like puppets; the CCTV cameras take only one picture per second, and the poor quality is in contrast to Mario Testinoís sharply brilliant pictures of the Princess of not so long before.

At the bottom of the screen the digital clock ticks away the seconds; it is 11 minutes past midnight on August 30, 1997.

Outside, another CCTV camera shows the road where they hope to make their secret getaway from the paparazzi. Roadworks block the Rue Cambon immediately outside the door and two photographers, sensing a quiet escape, have appeared on the opposite pavement. Around the front their colleagues, and a sizeable crowd, cluster at the hotelís grand entrance on the Place VendŰme.

Then a curious thing happens. Henri Paul goes outside to see if there is any sign of the car, and waves to the photographers across the street. Was this a signal that their quarry was about to appear? It will certainly be seized upon by the conspiracy theorists.

Paul returns inside and appears to brief his charges on the plan to get them to Dodiís apartment. Diana raises her left hand to her forehead in apparent salute, as if to signal her acquiescence to his instructions.

At 16 minutes and 57 seconds past midnight, the Mercedes appears in the back street but cannot stop at the hotelís rear entrance because of the roadworks. A paparazzo who has either been tipped off or has worked things out for himself races the wrong way along the one-way street on his motorcycle in time to catch the action.

Henri Paul leads the Princess, Dodi and Mr Rees-Jones a few yards along the pavement. The driver who brought the car gets out and the four get in and immediately drive off with Paul at the wheel, out of range of the CCTV cameras. It is the last image of them alive; all the traffic cameras on the way to the fatal underpass are, strangely, out of action. For the jury at the inquests, yesterday provided a riveting morningís viewing, a film edited down from hours of footage from 31 security cameras in and around the hotel. Jurors were talked through it by the man who did the painstaking work, Inspector Paul Carpenter, of the Metropolitan Police.

At one point the computer system showing the images on screens around the courtroom froze. Lord Justice Scott Baker suggested that the way to fix it was to adjourn and send the jury back to their room. He did, and it worked.

The video footage concentrated largely on the movements of Paul, from the moment he drew up outside the Ritz in his Mini at 22.05, seven minutes after being summoned back to work by an urgent phone call. He is seen meeting Thierry Rocher, the hotelís night manager, and fellow members of the Fayed security staff, before heading to the hotel bar where, apparently, there was no camera. During one of his five forays outside to survey the street at the front of the hotel, Paul disappeared out of camera range for 8Ĺ minutes. With each outdoor excursion, the crowd of onlookers is seen to grow, word having spread that the Princess and Dodi were inside.

Paul is also seen on three occasions going up to the knot of paparazzi and talking to them. Mayhem breaks out when a decoy Mercedes and Range Rover suddenly take off from the front entrance and do a quick spin round the square.

One shot shows Paul returning to the lobby, squatting down to tie each of his shoelaces, and exhibiting no signs of unsteadiness.

After many shots of Paul, his security men and the owner of Elite Limousines, the car company they used, apparently arranging for a third car to appear at the back entrance, the camera switches to the entrance to the Imperial Suite, where the Princess and Dodi had spent the evening. At six minutes past midnight they emerge.

Paul leads them and Kes Wingfield, one of the security team, down a long corridor to the service lift, which has its own camera. The Princess appears to be smiling and happy with the arrangements. But then they have to endure that seemingly endless wait in the service area Ė in reality little more than seven minutes Ė as Paul and Mr Rees-Jones make numerous phone calls, and hotel staff go about their business.

At last two bright headlights beam down the street; the car has arrived. As if alerted, two paparazzi across the street have moved to position themselves directly opposite the service exit. As the Princess emerges she raises her hand to cover her face.

They never reached their destination. Within minutes Dodi and Paul were dead and she was dying. There would be no more images of an icon.

 

   

 

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