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Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 14 December 2006

Timeline: How Diana died

Key events leading up to and following the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris.

30 AUGUST, 1997

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed
One of the last images ever taken of Princess Diana at the Ritz in Paris

1300: Dodi Al Fayed - son of Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed - and Princess Diana board a private jet at Olbia airport, Sardinia, to take them to Paris, where they plan to stay one night. Diana is due to return to London the next morning.

1520: Mr Al Fayed and the princess arrive at Le Bourget airfield, Paris, and are met by Henri Paul, deputy head of security at the Ritz Hotel. French paparazzi, tipped off by their Sardinian colleagues, also await the couple. Mr Al Fayed is stressed by their presence and tells their driver to lose them.

1635: The couple enter the Ritz.

1800: Mr Al Fayed, accompanied by bodyguards, picks up a ring he has ordered from Repossi's jewellers just outside the Ritz.

1900: The princess and Mr Al Fayed go back to his apartment just off the Champs Elysées. They take the back exit to escape the paparazzi.

1905: Mr Paul leaves the Ritz, telling his colleagues to call him if the couple return to the hotel.

2130: Mr Al Fayed's plans to take the princess for a romantic dinner are ruined as the couple are followed by paparazzi. Mr Al Fayed decides they should return to the Ritz. They are followed by some 30 photographers.

2155: Security at the Ritz call Mr Paul and tell him the couple have returned.

2200: The couple enter the hotel restaurant to dine, but leave after 10 minutes. Princess Diana is reportedly visibly upset over the stress of the day. The couple dine in the Imperial Suite instead.

2201: Mr Paul arrives back at the Ritz in his Austin Cooper. He then joins bodyguards Kez Wingfield and Trever Rees-Jones in the Vendome bar at the Ritz. The three make small talk whilst they wait for Princess Diana and Mr Al Fayed to finish their meal in the Imperial Suite. Mr Paul consumes two Ricard, an aniseed-flavoured pastis.

2300: Mr Paul is seen speaking to paparazzi outside the hotel. According to photographers, he is acting bizarrely and overly jovial, telling the press that the couple will soon depart.

2337: Mr Paul speaks with Mr Al Fayed and Princess Diana in the Imperial Suite. The couple are going to return to Mr Al Fayed's apartment off of the Champs Elysées. Mr Paul exits and tells bodyguards Mr Wingfield and Mr Rees-Jones that a decoy plan has been hatched to escape the paparazzi. The two cars the couple had been using that day, a Mercedes and a Range Rover, are to leave from the front of the hotel with the bodyguards. Princess Diana and Mr Al Fayed will leave from the back in an unmarked car, driven by Mr Paul. Mr Wingfield and Mr Rees-Jones express concern that under this plan there is no protection for the couple. Mr Al Fayed agrees to allow one bodyguard to travel with him and the Princess.

31 AUGUST, 1997

0019: Mr Paul and the couple chat as they wait for their car to be driven to the rear of the Ritz.

0020: The car now ready, Mr Rees-Jones escorts Princess Diana to the waiting Mercedes. She sits on the rear passenger side. Mr Al Fayed joins her on the rear driver's side. Paparazzi take photos of the couple as they enter the car. They depart abruptly, heading toward Place de la Concorde.

Scene of the fatal car crash
The 1997 crash killed Diana, Dodi and their driver

0025: The Mercedes crashes into the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel, killing Mr Paul and Mr Al Fayed. Mr Rees-Jones and the princess are seriously injured. Photographer Romuald Rat arrives within seconds - he is the first on the scene.

0026: First call to the authorities. Emergency doctor Frédéric Mailliez is driving by when he sees the crashed Mercedes. He is the first doctor on the scene and calls for help.

0028 - 0030: First two police officers arrive. They have difficulty cordoning off the accident from gathering paparazzi.

0032: Fire engine and ambulance arrive. Eight paparazzi are arrested at the accident scene and taken in for questioning.

0125: After nearly an hour, Princess Diana's ambulance leaves for hospital. She has already suffered a cardiac arrest.

0130: Mr Al Fayed is pronounced dead.

0155: Princess Diana's ambulance stops for five minutes to inject adrenaline into her body.

0206: The ambulance arrives at Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital. Doctors note that she has torn her pulmonary vein, a rare condition that begs little chance of survival. She receives open heart massage for nearly two hours.

0400: Princess Diana is declared dead.

0800: Mr Paul's autopsy begins at l'Institut Médico-Légal, carried out by Professor Dominique Lecomte.

1 September, 1997

Mr Paul's blood tests show that he was nearly three times over the French legal drink-drive limit and had a carbon monoxide level of 20.7% when he died. "Drunk as a pig" makes the headline in the Evening Standard the next day.

2 September, 1997

Judges Hervé Stephan and Marie-Christine Devidal appointed to lead French investigation into the crash. Royal Coroner John Burton is expected to hold a British inquest at a later date.

3 September, 1997

Paparazzi called in for questioning.

4 September, 1997

The Royal Family release first public statement since Princess Diana's death.

5 September, 1997

Mohamed Al Fayed's spokesman Michael Cole holds a conference to discuss Mr Paul's behaviour on the night of the accident. He shows Ritz CCTV footage to prove that Mr Paul was neither drunk nor drugged.

Eyewitness Francois Levistre tells The Times that he saw a "flash of light" just before the Mercedes crashed. His testimony will ignite conspiracies that Princess Diana was killed.

6 September, 1997

Princess Diana's funeral at Westminster Abbey.

8 September, 1997

Prince Charles pleads to the press to leave his sons, William and Harry, alone.

10 September, 1997

Mr Al Fayed pushes for a second blood test after alleging that the first was possibly contaminated. Judge Stéphan is present and the procedure is photographed. This blood test reveals not only a similar level of alcohol in his blood, it also reveals traces of prescribed drugs: Prozac, to treat depression, and Tiapridal, which counters alcohol dependency.

Blood tests taken from the groin show a lower level of carbon monoxide at 12.8%. But these figures are not released to the public until early 1998, when they spark fresh controversy.

18 September, 1997

Two witnesses, Georges and Sabine D, tell French police that they saw a suspicious car coming out of the Alma tunnel on the night of the accident. "A white Fiat zigzagged as it came out of the tunnel, so much so that it almost hit us," says Georges. "The driver seemed to be perturbed by something in his rear-view mirror. He was transfixed by whatever he was looking at." The car had a big dog in the back, they claim. Based on their recollection of the number plate, they thought the Fiat was most likely from one of two suburbs west of Paris.

19 September, 1997

Sole survivor of the crash, bodyguard Mr Rees-Jones, says he is suffering from amnesia and cannot remember details of the accident.

2 October, 1997

French police announce that forensic tests on the Mercedes confirm that a white Fiat Uno, manufactured between 1983 and 1987, was involved in the accident. White scratches are found on the right side of the Mercedes, and broken taillights were found at the scene of the accident. Police begin the search for the car.

3 October, 1997

Injured bodyguard Mr Rees-Jones is discharged from hospital.

13 November, 1997

French police interview Le Van Thanh, a Vietnamese security guard with a Fiat Uno and three dogs. Although forensic tests confirm that the paint and rubber on his car match the traces found on the Mercedes, the French police rule him out. An official report says his car shows no signs of having been damaged in an accident.

19 December, 1997

Mr Rees-Jones returns to Paris to speak to the French police investigation.

12 February, 1998

Mr Al Fayed claims in the Mirror that the crash was not an accident. He says that his son and Princess Diana were on their way to celebrate their engagement when their car crashed and claims that the Establishment would be "offended" by such news.

13 February, 1998

Private detectives working for Mr Al Fayed claim to have found the "mystery" Fiat Uno. It belongs to paparazzi photographer James Andanson.

20 February, 1998

Michael Cole retires as Mohamed Al Fayed's spokesman.

21 April, 1998

Mr Rees-Jones resigns from Mr Al Fayed's employment.

2 June, 1998

Bodyguard Mr Wingfield resigns from Mohamed Al Fayed's employment.

2 August, 1998

Francois Levistre, who claimed to have seen a motorcycle cut up the Mercedes before it crashed, changes his story. Ignoring his past claims that a "massive" flash that could have blinded Mr Paul, he tells Sunday People that he might have caused the crash that killed the princess by swerving in front of her car.

23 August, 1998

Mr Al Fayed claims in the Sunday Mirror that bodyguards Mr Rees-Jones and Mr Wingfield "caused the crash through their incompetence and unprofessional practice".

28 August, 1998

Richard Tomlinson, a former British spy, is heard by Judge Stéphan at his own request.

30 August, 1998

Mr Tomlinson tells the British tabloid The People of an alleged MI6 plot to kill Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that included a bright flash and a tunnel. He said that Princess Diana's accident mirrored this plot, suggesting that Mr Paul might have been a secret service agent.

3 September, 1998

William and Harry ask that their mother be allowed to "rest in peace".

23 September, 1998

Mr Rees-Jones registers as a plaintiff against the Ritz for "placing his life in danger".

19 February, 1999

French investigating Judge Stéphan delivers his 6,800-page report to prosecutor Maud Coujard.

2 July, 1999

Paris appeal court throws out a petition by Mr Al Fayed which was critical of Judge Stéphan's investigation.

3 September, 1999

Judge Stéphan's official French report on the crash is published. It concludes that Mr Paul was driving at excessive speed and under the influence of both prescription drugs and alcohol. Judge Stéphan also concludes that none of the photographers arrested after the crash are to be charged with manslaughter.

November 1999

Mr Al Fayed claims that Prince Philip "masterminded" the car crash that killed Princess Diana and his son Dodi Al Fayed.

18 July, 2000

High Court in London rejects Mohamed Al Fayed's legal bid to hold joint inquests into the deaths of the princess and his son.

March 2002

Mr Rees-Jones' book, The Bodyguard's Story, is published. In it he says to have no memory whatsoever of the crash.

Royal Coroner John Burton leaves his post. He is replaced by Surrey coroner Michael Burgess.

14 April, 2002

The French Supreme Court of Appeal formally ends its investigation into the crash. It also upholds Judge Stéphan's dismissal of the manslaughter charges against the paparazzi.

29 August, 2003

Royal Coroner Mr Burgess announces that an inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed will proceed.

30 October, 2003

Mohamed Al Fayed tells US programme "Primetime" that Princess Diana phoned him on the night she died to tell him she was pregnant with Dodi's baby.

6 January, 2004

Royal Coroner Mr Burgess opens the inquest into Princess Diana's death.

7 January, 2004

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens is appointed to head the British inquiry into Princess Diana's death.

26 April, 2004

Lord Stevens, Royal Coroner Mr Burgess and the head of French police investigation, Martine Monteil, visit the Alma tunnel as part of inquest into Diana's death.

28 July, 2005

The remnants of the wrecked Mercedes are shipped from Paris to London for forensic examination by the Metropolitan Police.

22 July, 2006

Royal coroner Mr Burgess resigns, citing a heavy workload.

2 September, 2006

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss named as new Royal Coroner.

14 December, 2006

Former Metropolitan Police chief, Lord Stevens, publishes his report on the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed.

24 April, 2007

Announcement of appointment of new assistant deputy coroner who will take responsibility for hearing the inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed.

11 June, 2007

Lord Justice Scott Baker formally takes on role of new assistant deputy coroner.

2 October, 2007

Opening day of inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

31 March, 2008

Lord Justice Scott Baker begins his summing up.

7 April, 2008

The jury delivers its verdict and decides that both Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed were unlawfully killed.

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