PRINCESS DIANA claimed there was a plot to kill her in a car crash in a handwritten letter only 10 months before she died. She gave it to her butler Paul Burrell with orders that he should keep it as “insurance” for the future.
The princess predicted: “This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous.” She said “XXXXXXXXXXX is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry”.
In the letter, revealed by the Daily Mirror today, Diana named who she believed was plotting to kill her. But the Mirror is not able to repeat the allegation for legal reasons so we have blanked that part of the letter out.
The document will fuel the conspiracy theories which have raged in the six years since she was killed in a Paris car crash.
But it also appears to bring fresh importance to a warning by the Queen that there were “powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge”.
The Queen was speaking to Burrell at Buckingham Palace in a meeting that would prove crucial in the collapse of his trial for theft.
Now, plagued by that meeting and deeply troubled that there has still been no inquest in Britain into the death of Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, Burrell has come forward with the stunning new evidence.
In his new book A Royal Duty the former servant – cleared last year of stealing Diana’s possessions – claims she began to worry about her security TWO YEARS before her death and that this led her to record her fears in the document.
Before sealing the letter in an envelope marked “Paul”, the princess told him: “I’m going to date this and I want you to keep it … just in case.”
In the second paragraph of the document, written in October 1996, Diana explained in the plainest possible language that she was convinced of the plot to mastermind an accident.
Burrell describes in his book the events that led the princess to write the document at her desk in Kensington Palace.
Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles had been finalised less than two months earlier.
The princess, who had cut down on her charities to focus on Aids, leprosy and victims of homelessness, was enjoying huge public support.
But according to Burrell, by the autumn of 1996 she had “an overpowering feeling that she was ‘in the way’.”
He adds: “Rightly or wrongly she felt the stronger she became, the more she was regarded as a modernising nuisance.
“She certainly felt that ‘the system’ didn’t appreciate her work and that for as long as she was on the scene Prince Charles could never properly move on.”
Burrell says the princess told him: “I have become strong and they don’t like it when I am able to do good and stand on my own two feet without them.”
THE princess’s anxiety deepened to such an extent that she ordered a sweep of her apartments at Kensington Palace for listening devices.
By October 1996 she once again confided in Burrell that she believed there was a concerted attempt to undermine her in the public’s eyes.
She recalled that she had been brooding about Charles’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and the continuing role of Tiggy Legge Bourke, nanny to Princes William and Harry, in the Royal Household.
Burrell says the princess was feeling “undervalued and unappreciated”. But at the root of her fears she said she was constantly puzzled” by attempts by Prince Charles’s supporters to “destroy her”.
With these thoughts and fears in her head, Diana decided to put her fears to paper, says Burrell.
The letter betrays the loneliness Diana was feeling: “I am sitting here at my desk today in October, longing for someone to hug me and encourage me to keep strong and hold my head high.” According to Burrell it was not the first time Diana had felt it neccessary to record what was happening to her. He said: I became the repository for royal truths.
“These notes are her legacy and are crucial to the truths that enshrine her memory and debunk the damaging myths that seem to have been peddled since the day she died.”
Diana and Dodi Fayed were killed in the early hours of August 31 1997 when a Mercedes S280 driven by drunken chauffeur Henri Paul careered into the Pont d’Alma tunnel in the French capital.
An inquiry in 1999 by the French authorities blamed Paul, concluding that he had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs before losing control of the car because he was speeding.
However, there has been a growing unwillingness by the public to accept the official version of her death.
BURRELL admitted he shares the doubts. He said: “With the benefit of hindsight, the content of that letter has bothered me since her death.”
It will strike a chord among people who remain puzzled by inconsistences in her death, including questions over a mysterious white Fiat Uno which grazed the Mercedes in the tunnel and over blood samples taken from Henri Paul.
Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi’s father, has spent tens of thousands of pounds on a private investigation, convinced that Diana and Dodi were murdered by British security services at the behest of Establishment forces.
But Diana’s family refuse to believe the theories. Her mother Frances Shand Kydd accepted the findings of the French inquiry “without reservation”.
Diana’s brother Earl Spencer also said he was satisfied that the authorities had “reached the right conclusion”.
Hopes that some of the mysteries would be unravelled were dashed last month.
A spokesman for the royal coroner Michael Burgess said the date for an inquest on Diana would be announced within days.
But hours later Mr Burgess ordered the statement to be withdrawn, saying it was premature” to suggest a date and refusing to give a timescale.
The lack of an inquest and his prosecution for theft in 2002 steeled Burrell’s determination to make public the princess’s concerns for her security.
“That letter has been part of the burden I have carried since the princess’s death. Knowing what to do with it has been a source of much soul-searching.”
He insists that whether it is a wild coincidence” or an explanation for the tragedy is a matter for a coroner’s court.
He adds: “It may be futile in what it achieves because it can do no more than provide yet another question mark.
“But if that question mark leads to an inquest and a thorough investigation of the facts by the British authorities it will have achieved something.”