Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Fayed family must have appeared to the British Establishment to be an alliance made in Hell, it was suggested at her inquest yesterday.
Not only was the mother of a future king conducting a high-profile campaign against the manufacture and use of landmines – many supplied by the British defence industry – but she was having an affair with an “oily bedhopper”, the Muslim son of a businessman with a tarnished reputation who had been refused a British passport.
Michael Mansfield, QC, cross-exam-ining Paul Burrell, the Princess’s former butler, attempted to paint a picture of a member of the Royal Family becoming a thorn in the side of British vested interests. She was having an affair with a Muslim; she had just been on a landmine visit to Bosnia; there was a new Government in power; and Britain had not yet signed up to the Ottawa accord banning the making and use of landmines.
Mr Mansfield represents Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi was also killed and who believes that the Princess’s death was engineered by British intelligence services in a plot master-minded by the Duke of Edinburgh. Mr Al Fayed sat through yesterday’s hearing with a particularly stony face. His legal team have gone to considerable lengths to discredit Mr Burrell. But Mr Burrell stuck to his view that her relationship with Dodi had peaked by the time they died in August 1997, and that she never planned to marry him.