… on August 31, 1997, that “the people’s princess” was killed by a high speed collision in Paris’s Pont de l’Alma road tunnel. I don’t know whether or not MI5, in cahoots with Sûreté and DGSE, engineered that collision. Neither, I suppose, do you.
Ever since my scathing assessment of ‘truthers’ for Off-Guardian on the fifteenth aniversary of 9/11, I’ve been wary of dismissing conspiracy theorists out of hand. While too many are lazy – forever pointing us at ‘irrefutable’ sources which often prove anything but; never advancing robust accounts of their own – this is by no means always the case. I learned the hard way that some at least are highly knowledgeable. Of itself that doesn’t make them right but does mean that if you take them on, as I did, on purely logical grounds – how many people were in on that conspiracy to mass murder? – you’re asking for trouble. Especially when, as with 9/11, some of the more knowledgeable are also sane, calm and to be respected. I owe myself and readers of my piece a comeback on the basis of more detailed reading of the evidence cited by ‘truthers’. It’s long overdue. What’s been putting me off is not fear of finding out I was wrong, and publicly saying so. I can do that and move on. It’s that the task of sifting so thick a soup of evidential claim and counterclaim has assumed, as tasks will, the status of tedious chore when there’s so much else going on in the world. Self indulgent of me, I know. A promise is a promise, even with no date on it. But given my output on things that matter at least as much, let none accuse me of indolence.
Back to Di though. On logical grounds alone*, claims of her having been murdered by orders from on high are easier to swallow than the 9/11 truther claims. They suppose – and this goes for JFK too – a simpler conspiracy, dependent on fewer actors prepared to carry their secret to the grave. A good piece by Kit in today’s OffGuardian echoes my own views:
… For the past week or so Diana … has been in every paper, on every channel. The BBC has a saccharine fluff piece, shallow as a puddle. The Daily Mail goes one step further into the absurd, publicising a “what if” novel, offering a version of reality where Diana survived. In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland descends into self-parody by somehow contriving to use Diana’s anniversary to whine about Brexit (again), whilst Matthew D’Ancona makes the argument that maybe public emotion is bad and should be ignored. Hillary Mantel writes thousands of words about a person that never really existed …
Nobody, anywhere in the press, comes close to saying anything important. Nobody tries to tell the truth.
I don’t know what happened the night Princess Diana died in a car accident, along with her lover and her driver – nobody knows. It could have been an accident, it could have been something worse. But there are three important facts that are not contended:
18 months before she died, Diana wrote to two separate friends (one, her lawyer), stating that the Royal family would attempt to murder her by staging a car accident.
The death of Diana resolved a potentially awkward and unpleasant situation for the Royal family.
The press repeatedly published exaggerations and falsehoods about many areas of the case, whilst with-holding and ignoring other important evidence …
We should remember here that, below the pageant and sycophancy, we are speaking of one of the world’s most powerful families. As I say in my own comment to Kit’s piece, its power lies over and above that flowing from membership of Britain’s ruling class. It lies in such as the ‘constitutional right’ of the monarch to dismiss HER/HIS government. Those who take at face value our democratic trappings scoff: just a bit of harmless tradition, innit; not worth getting fussed over. This despite the armed forces also swearing allegiance to HER/HIS MAJESTY. If the monarchy really is just one big colourful tourist draw, well then, it won’t mind surrendering that ‘right’, will it?
Last word though goes goes to Mark Steel. When the indefatiguably ridiculous Julie Burchill told us Princess Diana was “a republican at heart”, this ever witty man pointed out that, since she’d wanted her son to be king, we’d have to place her on the moderate wing of republicanism now wouldn’t we?
* Of course, it is logically possible that 9/11 really was an inside job while Diana died in nothing more than an appalling accident, and Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. My point is simply that the first claim makes bigger demands on our credulity. Conspiracy theories are not “all the same”, and many have in fact been upheld. Think Tonkin. Think Saddam’s WMDs. Think Contragate. I for one believe that many aspects of the imperialist war on Syria, including sarin use at Ghouta 2013 and Idlib 2017 – where we already know accusations against Damascus to be at best suspect – will in due course be shown to involve conspiratorial collaborations of truly evil proportions.