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Princess Diana, her boyfriend, and their driver died in a car crash in Paris just after midnight on August 31, 1997 — those are facts we know to be true. But who was at fault, and was there more to it than paparazzi chasing the car she was traveling in at high speeds? What other factors contributed to her death? The Diana Investigations explores some of the details you already know, and plenty of conspiracies you don’t, to understand what really happened in that tunnel in Paris that night.

Opening Shot: Footage of an empty Alma Tunnel, the now-infamous scene of Princess Diana’s death. An archival newsreel announces news of the accident which claimed her life and the lives of Diana’s companion, Dodi Fayed and their driver, Henri Paul. Reporter Duncan Larcombe speaks to the camera, saying, “The most photographed woman in the world had died trying not to have her photo taken. That doesn’t make sense.” Another woman being interviewed says, “Immediately I said to my said to myself, with loud voice, they killed her.”

Those two statements are at once sensational but also bear some truth. And that seems to be the theme for this series. Once we hear all the details, it’s up to us, with the help of the investigators and journalists who participated in it, to parse out what’s sensational, what’s true, and what is both.

The Gist: The night she died, the driver of Princess Diana’s car was drunk, blood alcohol three to four times the legal limit. The car was traveling at 121 miles per hour. The bodyguard also traveling in the car suffered amnesia after the accident and can’t recall most details of the crash. There are reports that a mysterious white Fiat was also in the tunnel at the time of the crash, the driver never found. And then, of course, there was the fact that the Mercedes that Diana and Dodi Fayed were traveling in was surrounded by paparazzi, dangerously chasing them as they tried to get away. The death of Princess Diana has been bogged down with mysterious details that have led to dozens of conspiracy theories over the years, but unlike the JFK assassination, there is no Zapruder film to analyze, there were not hundreds of people present at a large public gathering to offer their eyewitness accounts. The crash took place in a tunnel where few people were present and those who were there were desperate not to incriminate themselves in her death.

Over the course of four episodes, The Diana Investigations respectfully addresses the theories that have floated around since 1997, interviewing the few witnesses who were in and around the Alma Tunnel and at the Ritz Carlton in Paris the night of the crash to analyze, scrutinize and debunk the myths around what happened that night.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? On the one hand, The Diana Investigations is a natural follow up to the recently released HBO documentary The Princess, in that both rely heavily on footage of the Princess to retell key moments of her life. While The Diana Investigations goes into detail about the way the paparazzi contributed to Diana’s general discomfort in the world (hence her attempt to escape from them on the night of her death), The Princess uses two decades’ worth of media coverage to make the same point simply by assembling all of those photos and videos of her together into a narrative of her life.

On the flip side, the film is an investigation into a highly mysterious death, and was also reminiscent of another death that begat a million conspiracies, JFK. Oliver Stone’s 2021 film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass similarly looks at the highly public death of a highly public figure a few decades removed from it. Both films are entertaining and maddening in the way that the stir up plenty of questions that still don’t have answers.

Our Take: The French Brigade Criminelle was the crime squad responsible for investigating the crash, and in this series, one of the members of the squad explained that every lead they followed, every clue they acquired, was done in secret to evade the press. They purposely did not share elements of their investigation because of how sensitive it was. Now, 25 years later, they’re speaking, and explaining the meaning behind the leads they followed (and those that they deemed total BS), and while many of the details about the paparazzi chase and the fact that driver Henri Paul was drinking prior to driving are common knowledge, the perspective of the investigators brings more nuance to the case than the screaming headlines ever did.

Also intriguing is the fact that so many people continue to hold fast in their vastly different opinions of what happened and who is responsible. Alongside the interviews with paparazzi who claim that they were just doing their job and the real villain is Henri Paul, there is an interview with Paul’s lifelong best friend who claims that his friend could not have possibly driven as recklessly as has been reported and there’s no way he is at fault. (Mohammed Al-Fayed, father to Dodi, also hired his own private investigators to look into the crash, one of whom speaks on the record here explaining that the senior Al-Fayed was certain there was foul play involved in the deaths.)

After just one episode it feels like we’ve already covered quite a bit of territory, but with three more episodes that speculate about additional details and deeper conspiracies, we’ve clearly only just scratched the surface and we’re about to go down a much deeper rabbit hole as the show goes on.

Sex and Skin: None.

Parting Shot: Throughout the first episode of The Diana Investigations, each conspiracy or curious detail that’s being investigated is presented as a theory posited on a mid-1990s message board, a pre-Reddit chat room. In the final shot of the episode, a blinking cursor on a computer screen types out the question, “Who would want Diana dead?” and the show fades to black. While the first episode has focused on the “How?” of the accident, it intones that the next episode will go even deeper into the conspiracy of “Why?”

Sleeper Star: Martine Monteil was the head of the Brigade Criminelle in Paris at the time of the accident, and it was her job to gather evidence – down to tiny pearls she found lying on the ground of the tunnel, worn by Diana prior to the accident – to understand what happened before, during, and after the crash. Her commentary is fact-based and authoritative, minimally sensational or controversial, and she provides tons of insight into what she, as an investigator, was looking for in the aftermath of the crash.

Most Pilot-y Line: Early on in the first episode, one of the interviewees says, “There are so many coincidences. So many odd things that just don’t add up.” That’s the basis for any true crime investigative series worth its salt, but it’s especially applicable to the weird and disturbing details surrounding Diana’s death.

Our Call: STREAM IT! Fans of true crime and/or the Royals will most certainly be entertained by this four-part series that features never-before-heard testimony from many of the people who were on the scene the night that Diana died and threw their lives into the investigation. You might come away from the show feeling more conspiratorial than when you first sat down, but you’ll also realize that there were a lot of bad decisions and a lot of people at fault for what happened on August 31, 1997.

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