The Royal Family may withdraw their seal of approval from Harrods … as a result of Diana’s affair with owner’s son Dodi Fayed. The top people’s store – with its long and proud tradition of royal patronage – may be about to lose the Prince of Wales royal crest. Senior Palace courtiers are ready to advise the Queen that she should refuse to renew the prestigious royal warrants for the Knightsbridge store when they come up for review in February.
It would be a huge blow to the ego of store owner Mohammed Al Fayed – and would infuriate Diana, who was yesterday understood to be still with Dodi aboard his yacht, near the Italian island of Sardinia. But the Royal Family are furious about the frolics of Di, 36, and Dodi, 41, which they believe have further undermined the monarchy. Prince Philip, in particular, has made no secret as to how he feels about his daughter-in-law’s latest man, referring to Dodi as an “oily bed-hopper”.
At Balmoral next week, the Queen will preside over a meeting of The Way Ahead Group where the Windsors sit down with their senior advisers to discuss policy matters. MI6 has prepared a special report on the Egyptian-born Fayeds which will be presented to the meeting.
The delicate subject of Harrods and its royal warrants is also expected to be discussed. And the Fayeds can expect little sympathy from Philip. A friend of the royals said yesterday: “Prince Philip has let rip several times recently about the Fayeds – at a dinner party, during a country shoot and while on a visit to close friends in Germany.
“He’s been banging on about his contempt for Dodi and how he is undesirable as a future stepfather to William and Harry.
“Diana has been told in no uncertain terms about the consequences should she continue the relationship with the Fayed boy.
“Options must include possible exile, although that would be very difficult as, all said and done, she is the mother of the future King of England.
“She has also been warned about social ostracism. But Diana’s attitude is if that means not having to deal with the royals and their kind, then she would be delighted.”
There are some who believe Diana may be past caring and has decided to look towards those who can afford to keep her in the lifestyle to which she became accustomed. The Fayed family have all the trappings of vast wealth… wherever it originated from.
And Dodi has told Diana what he has told many of his other beautiful girlfriends in the past: “It’s my father’s store and you can have what you want. Charge it to my account and I’ll just sign the bill.” But now the Royal Family may decide it is time to settle up.
After their brief trip to Paris, Diana spent virtually every free moment with Dodi at his apartment in London’s Park Lane or together at Kensington Palace, which rankled the royals greatly. Prince Philip was enraged that the “oily little bed-hopper” was shacked up with Diana, their constant thorn, in a royal palace. The royals went apoplectic.
When photographed arriving at Dodi’s apartment, Diana walked in without a care who saw her. She seemed to be telling the world that her romance was for real and that she had nothing to hide. Dodi had their meals ferried in on silver trays from the nearby Harry’s Bar. Just months before Diana was accustomed to smuggling her lover, Dr Hasnat Khan, into KP hidden in a blanket in the back of her car driven by her butler Paul Burrell. But things had changed and for the better and she could at last be open about her relationship with the Harrod’s heir.
When she was informed by a courtier that Prince Charles was expressing ‘concern’ about the effect the new man in her life might be causing on their sons, Diana said his worries were ‘laughable’ in view of his own undisguised affection for a woman other than their mother. What was good for the goose, was good for the gander and Charles did not like it one bit.
The suave heir to Al Fayed’s vast fortune would make Diana an ideal husband, announced blonde Sky News presenter Tania Bryer, who had dated Dodi in the past. “He is warm and gentle. Not an aggressive macho sort. I can see why he appeals to Diana,” she warbled, paid to incite such juicy gossip 24/7. “He is absolutely charming and one of the most genuine people you could meet.”
Diana seemed to have come to the same conclusion. She was not concerned about this latest insight of her private life, and assured friends: “I am in good hands!” A confidante of the princess was quoted as saying, “Her friends are in no doubt that the princess is in love. It is the real thing.”
There was real sexual chemistry between them, said one journalist when shown intimate photographs of the couple taken aboard the Jonikal. “They are oblivious to everyone and everything around them!” The Queen’s courtiers were equally eager to assure their press contacts that the “whole thing is an act”, to annoy the Royal Family.
In 2005, Piers Morgan, former editor of the Daily Mirror wrote in The Insider, ‘Lots of pictures of her [Diana’s] boys, the young heirs, the men who will perhaps kill off, or secure, the very future of the monarchy’. And yet Morgan despite his friendship with Mark Bolland, an aide to Prince Charles, was convinced that Diana and Dodi were for real.
One of the photographs to which he was referring – of the bikini-clad princess kissing Dodi on the deck of the Jonikal – was splashed across the front page of the Daily Mirror. Piers Morgan had bought it on a one-day-exclusive basis from an Italian paparazzi photographer who had staked out the yacht. The following day the picture was bought by other national newspapers and given similar premier treatment.
It made the photographer more than £1 million – a sheer indication of the incredible interest in their romance at the time. Publication of grainy photographs did not cause the princess’s smile to wane in the slightest. In fact she asked the photographers why the pictures were so “grainy”. She was revelling in it. Of interests also, the princess was not complaining that her privacy was being invaded.
There was a palpable sense of relief that their relationship was right out there in the open and that the world’s press were fixated on them. Diana was dictating the pace of events, as she loved, and the royals hated every minute of being overshadowed again. Diana was rubbing it in and she knew it and so did the royals. The British Establishment had reached zero tolerance with Diana and her risqué relationship with the son of their arch-enemy Al Fayed.
For one so deeply concerned that she was a target for assassination, Diana was doing everything she could think of to invite that eventuality. A covert relationship was one thing but flaunting it so openly was another and yet it was lost on the royals that Diana was the world’s foremost celebrity and the colossal interest of the press in her every move was inevitable and indeed highly profitable for the press barons.
The counter-attack on the Al Fayeds and Diana in the public domain was imminent. The royals were waiting on MI6 to complete the dossier before leaking it to the press through their courtiers. The battle-lines were drawn irrevocably and there was no turning back. The royals and Charles in particular greatly feared what Diana might leak to Al Fayed. It was common knowledge in royal circles that Diana kept a ‘treasure trove’ of highly damaging secrets at KP and their revelation could bring down the monarchy.
And the slightest thought of marriage between the princess and the son of Mohamed Al Fayed sent shudders of revulsion through the ranks of Buckingham Palace courtiers. They were not impressed by the remark of Dodi’s friend, who said: “With him, Diana can have everything the royal family gave her, without the annoyance of the royal family.” The conflict grew wider and more serious albeit behind the scenes for the most part.
On 8 August, Diana was snapped leaving Dodi’s apartment adjacent the Dorchester Hotel at one in the morning. Just hours later she flew to Bosnia to further her anti-landmines campaign. She had become more than a troublesome thorn in the Royal Family’s side, she was also considered to be a menace by the majority of the world’s arms industry. Her visit to Bosnia was a direct threat to their billons and escalation of the campaign to ban the use of Landmines.
Diana, radiant and forever smiling in the face of adversity, had focused the world’s attention on the landmines issue. In Bosnia, she was greeted by over sixty photographers. She highlighted the very real human misery caused by the deployment of landmines. For three days she talked to surviving victims of random mines. People who had lost limbs and suffered hideous debilitating injuries, were embraced by Diana and she made them feel special with her special brand of magic.
One newspaper described Diana as a “Mother Teresa with a crown” and experienced opinion-shapers were astonished that this not very eloquent woman had become the most influential personality in the world. At the Pentagon and among some of America’s wealthiest arms dealers, the realisation dawned that Diana had become their most potent and vitriolic opponent, threatening their vast power base. Former British Foreign Secretary Lord Howe, had dubbed Diana as a “loose cannon” and at any time she could blow up in their faces.
The moneyed elite of the Western world needed to eliminate the Diana threat. Their opportunity to destroy her in the public domain did not exist as Diana had become almost saintly in the eyes of billions of people across the world. Attacks on Diana’s character in the media, repeatedly backfired and she seemed invulnerable. Politicians across the West were stunned by the ease of her rise to international stardom. How could an icon be stopped?
On 15 August, Diana flew to Greece for a cruise with her good friend Rosa Monckton, and borrowed Mohamed Al Fayed’s private jet to take them there. For one so distrustful of anything and everything to do with the State, it is perhaps a little strange that Diana struck up such a close friendship with Rosa Monckton, given the constant rumours that circulated about her husband’s close ‘connections’ to MI6. But ‘friends’ they were and Rosa Monckton would later prove to be a greater friend to the British establishment than Diana could ever have imagined.
On 21 August, both Diana and Dodi were back in London, he having returned from Los Angeles, presumably on a fact finding mission to find a suitable property to house the princess. Diana returned briefly to Kensington Palace to freshen up before returning to Battersea Heliport and then back on to Stansted Airport and the refuelled Gulfstream private jet. They headed back to the yacht Jonikal and another holiday together on the Côte d’Azur.
From Nice Airport the loving couple were whisked by car to where the Jonikal awaited them offshore at St. Laurent-de-Var, and while they rested, the yacht’s captain Luigi del Tevere, motored south to St Tropez where they anchored at 02.00hrs. Early the next morning they headed to Pamplona Bay where Dodi and Diana joined Mohamed Al Fayed and his wife and four children for lunch. As they left late that afternoon, the Jonikal was being tailed by a small flotilla of press boats.
The presence of the ubiquitous paparazzi didn’t faze Diana in the slightest. The next morning, Diana was up and about long before Dodi. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones recalls that she looked stunning in her bathing suit and made absolutely no effort to hide from the rapacious snappers.
During the late afternoon they anchored off St. Jean Cap Ferrat, from where Dodi planned to take Diana shopping and sightseeing in nearby Monaco. On their trip ashore, Dodi’s butler René says that they gave their bodyguards the slip while they toured the chic area of Monte Carlo and popped into Alberto Repossi, Dodi’s favourite jeweller in the Hermitage Hotel.
In his book, Trevor Rees-Jones denies a visit was made to Repossi’s even though Mohamed Al Fayed obtained the CCTV footage of the couple actually in the store. Rees-Jones denial is irrelevant: the ring, which Dodi would collect from the Paris branch a week later, was real enough.
Off Portofino in Italy, the next day, the young lovers chose to stay aboard the Jonikal as the paparazzi were visible in force on the shore. The pair showed no embarrassment about being seen kissing and cuddling during their sunbathing sessions on deck. Even when they were in full sight of the paparazzi, their intimate displays of affection did not abate in the slightest. They were loving every moment of it and the world’s press lapped it up and their readers were insatiable for news of the princess and her exotic lover.
By Friday, 29 August, they were anchored off Cala di Volpe, a private resort in Sardinia, where they slipped ashore unseen by the hunting press pack. The paparazzi attention was suffocating and the couple decided to move on. The decision to fly to Paris was made early that evening. A flight plan was filed from Sardinia’s Olbia Airport for the next day. Staff were instructed that the couple would spend a day in Paris before going on to London.
The Ritz Hotel was advised from the Fayed nerve centre in London that the couple would be arriving in Paris on the Saturday afternoon, a copy of the memo went to acting head of security Henri Paul! He immediately cancelled a planned weekend away with close friends and put himself back on the rota to be in charge of the reception at Le Bourget Airport.
The main reason for going to Paris, Dodi advised the Harrod’s HQ in London, was to pick up a ring. Dodi told his step-uncle, Hussein Yassin, a former press attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, who was stayed at the Ritz that weekend: “Diana and I are getting married. You’ll know about it officially very soon.” And Hussein’s niece, also in Paris, received a similar call that fateful Saturday evening. A gushing Dodi told her, “Our marriage will be founded on true love.”
A formal announcement was planned, Dodi told them, after the princess had broken the news to her two sons when they were reunited the following day. It was already decided that the ring he was collecting from Repossi, in the Place Vendôme, would be her engagement ring.
Speaking to the Paget Investigation of Sir John Stevens, Dodi’s butler René Delorm said: “In the book I explain how Dodi told me to have Champagne on ice ready for when they returned from dinner on 30th / 31st August 1997. He told me that he was going to propose to the Princess and showed me a ring. I will explain this incident in greater detail later in my statement. What I left out of that story was that later that evening I went to enter the living room; I coughed to announce my presence and saw the Princess sitting on the coffee table. Dodi was on one knee in front of her, caressing her belly and she was looking at her hand. The only thing I heard, was her say the word ‘Yes.’”
By the time the Gulfstream private jet set down at le Bourget Airport in the northern environs of Paris at 15.22hrs, Diana was as confident as she would ever be that she was truly in love with a good man and more importantly, ready to tell the whole world about it. When their door opened onto the area reserved for private aircraft, the contrast with the Côte d’Azur could not have been greater. There was not the slightest hint of a wind, everything was still, eerily so and the temperature was already soaring in the high eighties.
The British Embassy was not informed that Princess Diana was arriving but waiting by the runway, unbidden, but provided by a ‘considerate’ government, were the motorcycle outriders and black cars of the French diplomatic protection service – Service de Protection des Hautes Personnalité.
Normally, the princess would have been entitled to a phalanx of SPHP officers and protocol would have made it impossible to refuse them. But Diana had made her feelings perfectly clear to Dodi. The SPHP were not needed and Diana by then had a profound distrust of everything to do with government and state, particularly the British State.
Dodi Fayed was a passive man and readily agreed to almost anything Diana proposed or imposed. Dodi politely refused the SPHP and insisted, on Diana’s instructions, that his own personal bodyguards were more than capable of protecting them both. He would ensure the princess’s safety and his own. In this of course he was mistaken, disastrously so, as events were to prove. His bodyguards were not used to the frenetic press pack and blows were soon exchanged between the paparazzi and the Fayed security team.
And at Le Bourget a veritable army of photographers were waiting for the princess and her lover, forever hungry for the slightest morsel of newsworthy material. With photographers making vast sums for even grainy shots of the couple together, it was understandable they would gather en masse to ghost Diana everywhere she went. The paparazzi had already earned a new title as the ‘stalkerazzi’ and were living up to their notoriety.
Diana rejected a final offer of SPHP protection, a decision borne of her distrust of government security officers. Diana’s fear of official ‘security’ personnel by far outweighed her dislike of the stalkerazzi, whose preferred transport in Paris, she would learn, was motorcycles and scooters. Their persistence and sheer aggression, would make the antics of their Mediterranean cousins seem almost benign by comparison.