More than six years after Diana died in a car crash in Paris, Royal Coroner Michael Burgess opened an inquest into her death by saying Britain’s top police officer should investigate claims her death was not an accident.
“I am aware that there is speculation that (her death was) not the result of a sad but relatively straightforward road traffic accident in Paris,” Mr Burgess told the inquest.
“I have asked the metropolitan police commissioner to make inquiries.”
Diana died at the age of 36, along with her lover Dodi al Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul, in the August 1997 crash.
In a front-page splash yesterday, the Daily Mirror named Charles as the person she had claimed was “planning an accident” to kill her.
She made the allegation in a letter she gave to her butler and confidant, Paul Burrell, before she died.
The Mirror quoted from the letter Diana wrote just 10 months before her death. “This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous,” it said. “My husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury.”
A spokesman for Prince Charles declined to comment.
Royal biographer Robert Lacey said the claim raised the question about Diana’s state of mind.
“It does reduce it to the arena of squabbling ex-spouses. I think people will come to their own views as to whether or not they think Prince Charles would have plotted the death of the mother of his children,” he said.
An inquiry by French authorities in 1999 ruled the accident was caused by chauffeur Paul being drunk and driving too fast.
Dodi’s father, Mohamed al Fayed, multi-millionaire owner of the exclusive London store Harrods, has long claimed his son and Diana were murdered by British secret services because their relationship was embarrassing the royal household.
Burrell, who gave The Mirror access to the letter as part of a serialisation of excerpts from his book late last year, reacted angrily to news Charles’ name had been revealed. “I am not very happy about it ... I only learnt about it late last night. And it was always my intention never to publish that name,” he said.
Mr Burgess adjourned the inquest and it is likely no evidence will be heard for at least another year.