In less than a week, it will be exactly 20 years since Princess Diana’s tragic death — yet it seems that many still seem to mourn her ending like it was yesterday. When we hear touching stories — like how Prince William is sure to tell his kids about their beloved “Granny Diana” — it brings tears to our eyes. And every time William and Prince Harry talk about Diana’s mental health struggles, as well as Harry’s own battle, we mist over and know that the Princess’ legacy lives on through her children.
We’re also more than willing to take in all of the new documentaries and TV specials popping up that detail the events of Princess Diana’s life, and The Last 100 Days of Diana that came out back in May was no different.
Martin Bashir’s ABC documentary builds a premise that the beloved princess’s death was entirely preventable had she not set the wheels of publicity in motion herself. It brings to light one major question: Was Diana’s death caused by a single phone call?
Diana’s final months were spent recovering from the wreckage of her marriage, trying to salvage her own image in the face of her ex-husband’s attempt at public humiliation and desperately clinging to a romance that was wilting on the vine.
According to those close to her, the princess was head over heels in love with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan — so in love that she was ready to marry him on the heels of her own divorce from Prince Charles. But Khan was not eager to become “Mr. Diana” or suffer through the complete lack of privacy that entailed, and the romance floundered.
It was during an off period of their on-again, off-again relationship that as a guest on his father’s yacht, she met Dodi Fayed. He was immediately smitten, sending home his fiancée Kelly Fisher and showering Diana with gifts, including a pricey Cartier watch. When she later returned for a vacation just with Fayed, the day after an argument with Khan in which he told her they were through, she herself tipped off the paparazzi.
That phone call set in motion a chain of events that couldn’t be stopped.
The photos showed a happy Diana hugging and kissing Fayed, and they wound up on the front page of newspapers across the globe. The theory in the ABC special? She staged the images as a giant eff-you to both Khan and the royal family for dumping her. And the feeding frenzy in the press resulting from that decision led directly to her death.
So who was Diana really in love with? Fayed’s butler claims his boss told him he was planning to propose the night of the fateful car crash, and a Paris-based jeweler alleges Fayed and Diana had already picked out a ring. But Diana’s friends believe Fayed was nothing more than a palate-cleanser, a summer fling whose main objective was to make Khan jealous. Did it work? According to his testimony at the death inquest, Khan tried to call Diana on the night of her death, but was unable to get through.
The special leaves the truth ambiguous. Twenty years later, we are still talking about Diana’s love life. She cannot escape media speculation, even in death.
Originally posted May 2017. Updated August 2017.