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Last pictures before crash

An astonishing sequence of pictures of the final minutes of Princess Diana's life have emerged as the long-awaited inquest into her death finally opened today.

The never-before-seen images, posted on an official website by coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker, includes the last known photograph of Diana alive and graphic scenes of the desperate fight to save her life.

More than ten years after her death in a high speed crash in Paris they bring back with startling clarity the fantastic efforts to keep Diana alive.

The vivid aftermath of the crash contrasts with what must be the most extraordinary final snapshots of Diana's last moments.

Taken by one of the paparazzi, the princess is visible in the rear seat peering back at the pursuing French photographers. To her side Dodi Fayed is hunched forward in his seat.

It is just seconds after the couple have left the back entrance of the Ritz Hotel on the fatal journey to Dodi's Paris apartment and provides the last known picture of Diana alive.

But it is the occupants of the front seat that catch the eye.

Trevor Rees-Jones, Dodi's bodygaurd and the only survivor of the terrible accident, holds a protective hand up as he peers into the lens. Beside him the driver Henri Paul - accused by police of being drunk - stares twistedly, almost mockingly, at the camera.

In one picture Dr Frederic Maillez, the first doctor on the scene, can be clearly seen inside the back of the smashed Mercedes tending to the critically ill princess.

The photos also show the shuddering impact of the black limousine after it collided with pillar 13 - and how the car virtually disintegrated, such was the force of the collision.

A scene of desolation and horror is captured in the seconds after the crash. Passers-by, who included the off-duty Dr Maillez, are seen with policemen, firemen, and the paparazzi.

Sources close to Mohamed Al Fayed, who claims his son and Diana were murdered in an Establishment plot, said the existence of the last picture of the couple surrounded in the front and the rear by photographers proved they were pursued to their death by the paparazzi.

They denied official claims that the picture had been taken seconds after the princess and her lover had left the Ritz Hotel and insisted it was snapped well into their journey.

According to the website, it will be updated daily throughout the inquest with exhibits - including photographs - that are shown to the jury.

It will also contain transcripts, official statements, and details of procedural decisions.




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