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Wednesday, June 24, 1998 Published at 02:37 GMT 03:37 UK


Spencer refutes conspiracy theories

Earl Spencer and Sally Magnusson, who conducts the interview

The brother of the late Princess of Wales, Earl Spencer, has dismissed conspiracy theories about her death in a car crash in Paris last year.

In an interview with the BBC, Earl Spencer also said no one in his family was aware of plans for her to marry her friend, Dodi Fayed.

His father, Mohamed Al Fayed, believes the couple were murdered, because his son, a Muslim, was not acceptable to the British establishment.

Earl Spencer's remarks were broadcast in a BBC documentary about his sister.

He said he was "absolutely drained for two days" after editing old cine-film to go on display at a memorial exhibition to his sister, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Earl Spencer spoke about the heart-rending task and his recollections of the run-up to the car accident in Paris, her death and the funeral in BBC One's documentary Diana: My Sister, The Princess which was broadcast on Wednesday night.

[ image: The young
The young "Duch"
Previously unseen home movie footage of a nine-year-old Diana, nicknamed Duch, dancing and waving a bright red scarf, was included in the programme.

Watching scenes from the films with interviewer Sally Magnusson - the daughter of former Mastermind presenter Magnus Magnusson - the Earl spoke about Diana's well-known love of dance.

"She had star quality as a child. She was always striking poses with dancing steps." Her nickname was short for Duchess. "There seems to be a perception that it was because she was very grand as a little girl but I remember it being because she was particularly identified with the lead cat in The Aristocats, who was also called Duchess."

Editing the film for the exhibition at Althorp was hard, he said. "I was absolutely drained for two days after that. It was really sad, really sad to see this little girl running round and to know what happened to her when she became older."

Breaking the news

He recalled that initial reports of the accident in which Diana died said she had survived. But it was not long before he learned the worst.

When he told his three children: "I've got some awful news, I'm afraid Aunt Diana's been killed," his middle twin said: "But not in real life, Daddy."

[ image: Prince William following his mother's coffin]
Prince William following his mother's coffin
The earl said it was only the presence at his side of the two princes, William and Harry, that stopped him from crying as he walked behind the coffin at Diana's funeral.

"My admiration for those two boys is without bound now. . . it's the most amazing display of courage that I'll ever see."

During the funeral procession, "I was walking down a tunnel of grief."

"You'd walk a hundred yards in complete silence but with this grief bearing down on you and then somebody would scream - almost in tortured pain, they'd bellow - which was just awful."

"And then other people would be sobbing, others would applaud and then the silence again. It just seemed endless to me."

Earl Spencer dismissed claims Diana, Princess of Wales, was about to marry Dodi Fayed, saying their relationship had not gone past the "heady stage".

The earl said claims made by the Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed that the couple were engaged the night they were killed in a Paris car crash were "ridiculous".

He also dismissed as "monstrous" a claim by Mr Al Fayed that Diana uttered some last words.

He went on to comment that the early stages of a relationship "are very heady and very exciting and, tragically for both of them, it never got beyond that heady stage."

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