This Was the First Person to Be Notified of Princess Diana’s Car Accident

No, it wasn’t the Queen.

Princess Diana deathShutterstock

When the world was notified of Princess Diana’s death in 1997, they were at a loss for words. The royal family was devastated and as rumors began to surface in the days following her death, all they could do was work to honor her short life in the way she deserved. These were Princess Diana’s last words before she died.

Princess Diana deathShutterstock

At the time of her death, Princess Diana was visiting Paris with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. To avoid being bombarded by the paparazzi, not many people had been notified of their whereabouts. Early in the morning on August 31, 1997, the pair got into their car, driven by Henri Paul, to return to Fayed’s apartment. In an attempt to outrun the paparazzi, the car collided with a concrete pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Fayed and Paul died on the scene, but Diana was quickly rushed to the hospital. Read up on these conspiracy theories that still surround Princess Diana’s death.

Princess Diana death, British ambassador to France Michael Jay (left)Francois Mori/AP/Shutterstock

Around 1:45 a.m., Britain’s ambassador to France, Michael Jay, was alerted of the accident. He was the first to be told that Princess Diana’s life was in danger. He wasn’t aware that she was visiting Paris, but after being woken up in the middle of the night, he and his wife rushed to Diana’s hospital room. Right after Jay was notified of the accident, he told the queen’s private secretary, Robin Janvrin, what had happened.

Princess Diana death, Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with well-wishers after death of Princess Diana.Adrian Dennis/AP/Shutterstock

At around 4 a.m., the princess was pronounced dead. That tragic day and the events that unfolded moments after the crash will forever be remembered. Next, check out these stunning, rarely seen photos of Princess Diana.

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.