Princess Dianas Death

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Princess Diana, who according to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair was a “People’s Princess” died in a tragic road accident in Paris, France. The aim of this analysis it to examine the events that took place on the fateful night and analyze the responses of the various stakeholders as well as what lessons the world learned from this particular event. The goal is based on an attempt to comprehend our preparedness for future tragedies and enlighten us on how best to react to the occurrence of a tragedy, just like this one. The paper reviews the contribution of various professionals whose opinions offer the best advice on why the events unfolded the way they did and how to improve our performance in the wake of a similar tragedy in future.

The contemporary descriptions of crisis have reflected similar, but often elaborated themes (Caywood and Stocker, 1993; Fink, 1986; Seeger et al., 1998; Shrivastava, 1993; Weick, 1988). Following an integrative review of extant research, Pearson and Clair (1998, p. 60) define organizational crisis as:

“… a low-probability, high-impact event that threatens the viability of the organization and is characterized by ambiguity of cause, effect, and means of resolution, as well as by a belief that decisions must be made swiftly.”

Princess Diana of Wales died on 31st August 1997 due to injuries sustained in a car crash in the Port de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. Princess Diana was in the vehicle alongside her beau, Dodi Fayed; her driver, Henry Paul and Dodi’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones. In the four-passenger vehicle, Mercedes S280, only the bodyguard survived though he was seriously injured.

The media blamed the tragic event on the behavior of the paparazzi only for a French judicial investigation concluded in 1999 to establish that the crash was caused by Henry Paul, who lost control of the Mercedes while intoxicated under the effects of prescription drugs. Mr. Henry Paul was the deputy head of security at the Hotel Ritz at the time of the crash. He was spotted drinking two measures of Ricard pastis in the bar while he waited to drive the princess, her beau and the bodyguard to Dodi’s Paris apartment. Henry Paul is said to have provoked the paparazzi outside the hotel earlier.

His inebriation may have been increased by the antidepressant Prozac as well Tiapride and little amounts of an antipsychotic in his body. The investigation established that the paparazzi were not near the Princess’s vehicle when it crashed though it’s still a fact that they were pursuing the vehicle. The investigation concluded that Henry Paul was nearly three times over the French legal drink-drive limit. Dodi and Paul died immediately but Princess Diana died at the hospital as she suffered a cardiac arrest. Her pulmonary vein was torn and despite the best effort of the hospital staff she was pronounced dead at 4 am.

Princess Diana’s death hit the world as a shocking tragedy thus causing a sizable amount of grief. It is estimated that her death was watched by two billion people on the planet causing an unparalleled outpouring of grief from the public. Following the death of the princess, the royal family appeared surprisingly unemotional for people who were in the wake of a tragedy. A percentage of the populations asserts that Queen Elizabeth II’s reaction to the event was one of her few serious fumbles in the sixty-six years she’s been on the throne. Britain’s population was irked by the fact that as thousands were laying flowers outside the palace, the Queen and Princess Diana’s sons were over 500 miles away in Balmoral. The American media was the first to criticize the Royal family for the way they handled the situation and shortly after the British media followed with more criticism

One fact that we need to highlight is the fact that every company has a code of ethics that informs the principles by which the organization handles its business activities and functions. The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) defines a code of conduct as:

“Principles, values and standards or rules of behavior that guides the decisions, procedures and systems of an organization in a way that contributes to the welfare of its key stakeholders and respects the rights of all constituents affected by its operations.”

I.F.A.C insists that the challenge is embedding these principles in the individuals that constitutes these organizations. In our situation, Henry Paul this statement to be true as he violated the Hotel’s code of conduct when he got drunk while on duty. However, this not only endangered his life but the lives of his clients as he ended up crashing and killing himself, the Princess and her fiancée.

The paparazzi crew that provoked Princess Diana’s driver to over speed in an attempt to protect the Princess’s right to privacy also violated their code of conduct as their actions put the lives of the Princess, Dodi, Henry and Trevor in danger. A British inquest in 2008 declared a verdict of “Unlawful killing” by Henry Paul the paparazzi pursuing the car. The media was heavily interested in the brewing relationship after Princess Diana had freshly divorced Prince Charles. This desperation by journalists to deliver the first scoop of news about the new relationship blinded them from realizing that they had by far crossed the line.

According to an interview with Prince Harry, one of Princess Diana’s sons, the Queen was torn between playing her role as the Queen or as the grandmother to her grandchildren and this dilemma made her handle the circumstances the way she did. According to an interview video on YouTube with Michael Weaver, there are a lot of ethical issues that we face in the wake of tragedy and the looking at the Queen’s move to allow Princess Diana’s sons some time to grieve in private was a result of placing her obligation to family ahead of her obligation to the throne and this move was heavily misunderstood by the majority of the world’s population.

In a way the tragedy informed the conversation of creating workshops to train stakeholders on how best to respond to a tragedy as individuals are not operating from their comfort zones which the operate from when handling day to day events. Tragedies tend to be overwhelming and disruptive and it’s hard for even professionals to maintain composure in the event of a tragedy. The tragic death of Princess Diana broadened the world’s perspective about emergencies. Stakeholders for example hospital staff, security firms, media houses, hotel management companies, and the police department have come up with measures to try to prevent extreme results in the event that a similar tragedy occurs in future.

Stakeholders who deal with high profile clients here in the US have tried to come up measures of disaster risk reduction in a built environment. The same applies to activities such as mitigation preparedness, response and recovery, which are planned and conducted before, during and after disasters (Peek and Mileti, 2002; Altay and Green, 2006; Moe and Pathranarakul, 2006). Scholars have dedicated considerable attention to the study of disaster impacts on socio-economic and the built environment conditions (e.g. Alexander, 1997; Bosher, 2008; Hunt and Watkins, 2010).


Alexander, D. (1997), “The study of natural disasters, 1977-97: some reflections on a changing field of knowledge”, Disasters, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 284-304.

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Conspiracy Files | Timeline: How Diana died. (2018). Retrieved from

Caywood, C. and Stocker, K.P. (1993), “The ultimate crisis plan”, in Gottschalk, J.A. (Ed), Crisis Response: Inside Stories on Managing Image under Siege, Visible Ink, Washington, DC.

Disaster Ethics: An Introduction by Michael Weaver, MD. (2018). Retrieved from

Fischoff, B. (1989), “Individual behavior in organizational crises”, Industrial Crisis Quarterly,

Vol. 3, pp. 177-189.

Moe, T.L., Gehbauer, F., Senitz, S. and Mueller,M. (2007), “Balanced scorecard for natural disaster management projects”, Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 785-806.

January 19, 2024

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