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An Inconvenient Princess

There is a strange truism at work in modern society: people who are capable of instigating real change, those who possess intellect and charisma as well as the circumstantial power to influence and motivate others on a massive scale, have a tendency to end up dead under suspicious circumstances.

JFK is an obvious example. His assassination constituted an odd moment that would not have been out of place in the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The fact that a massive conspiracy was at work was obvious, yet the state would not recognize the fact. Of course, intelligent bullets jet around in highly complex patterns, obscure individuals with mob ties kill other suspected killers already in custody, and pigs sprout wings and fly.

Other figures whose deaths often arouse suspicion include Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and John Lennon. One may consider what the world would be like today, if any of these people had not met an untimely death. What would they have to say and, more importantly, what influence would they have had on issues like the WTO, the invasion of Iraq, and U.S. foreign policy in general?

The possibility of a conspiracy surrounding the death of Princess Diana, meanwhile, looms even larger on the horizon of the popular imagination, and not without reason. The implications of her potential to impact world events are staggering. She had already butted heads with world leaders over her call for an international ban on landmines, and there was every indication that she would become even more political as she got older.

Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, was a film producer whose credits include “Chariots of Fire.” In a world where politics are determined as much by what happens on TV and movie screens as in Parliament or Congress, this was bad news for an establishment which could easily be challenged by a popular juggernaut like Diana hooking up with a media voice like Dodi Fayed’s.

There is the ever-present, dismissed by the naive as irrelevant, but important fact of Fayed’s religion. This wasn’t the first Muslim Diana dated. Rumors that she considered converting to Islam during her relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan persist to this day.

Imagine the possibility: Princess Diana a Muslim; the mother of the future King of England, a Muslim; one of the most powerful women on Earth, a Muslim. There is even a chance that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death, which would have meant a potential Muslim sibling for the future King of England.

Wars have been fought over matters far less serious than these.

It’s important to remember that Diana was a much more popular figure, and thus more powerful, than any living British royal. Diana’s ability to hold the world’s collective attention made her more than just a sweetly vulnerable “queen of hearts.” Today’s backlash against Diana’s image and the hysteria her demise caused (look no further than Jenny Diski’s weary ridicule of Diana’s “dingy death” in the London Review of Books for a prime example), has obscured the fact that the princess’ magic spell on the media allowed her to point cameras at practically every issue she herself deemed important. Landmines were just the tip of the iceberg. In this sense, Diana was indeed politically dangerous, and in the Age of Information, her clout was going to increase.

Feminine power is interesting. It appeals to our hearts at the most fundamental levels and thus doesn’t need any legal mandate or threats of violence to be influential. Traditional patriarchies, of which our current world governments all include, tend to actively quash it. A recent example of this is the barrage of hatred and malice from the American right spewed towards Cindy Sheehan, an American anti-war activist who lost her son in the war in Iraq.

When feminine-centered discourse becomes political, people start talking about practical things: pulling out of wars, the well-being of future generations, better housing, better medical care, etc. Abstractions like “winning” wars, being “right,” and dying for some “cause,” tend to be less emphasized. It’s impossible for political entities to counter this type of discourse when it is as virulent and effective as it was when coming from Diana. Instead of answering it, you destroy the source of it, and that’s as good an explanation as any as to why Diana and Dodi ended up dead on August 31, 1997.

1997 was an interesting year – a year when, as some would have us believe, the invasion of Iraq was already being planned. In 1997, global politics, in the U.S., in Israel, and elsewhere, were quietly shifting to the right. Think-tanks such as PNAC and IASPS were centering on policies such as “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Change was in the air, and Princess Diana, with her intense focus on the suffering of the poor and disenfranchised, may very well have been an inconvenient stumbling-block.

What exactly took place the night Diana, Dodi, and their driver Henri Paul died in a Paris tunnel, will never be completely revealed. However, plenty of questions still remain.

There is a note Diana passed to her then Butler, Paul Burrell in 1996. In it, she claimed that “This particular phase of my life is the most dangerous – my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure & serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry.” The words “my husband” were originally taken out by Burrell to withhold Charles’ identity, but later published by “The Daily Mirror,” a British tabloid.

Then there is the aforementioned possibility of Diana being pregnant at the time of her death. Unidentified, but according to press reports, reliable sources in the French police department have claimed that she was in fact pregnant at the time of her death. Diana’s body was ordered by British Authorities to be embalmed shortly following her death, and prior to a full autopsy. Obviously, there is absolutely no excuse for embalming Diana’s body before a thorough investigation could be conducted. Incompetence or conspiracy or both are the only available explanations.

Of course there’s also the issue of the mysterious and infamous white Fiat seen speeding away from the crash site, speculated to have caused the accident. The car is alleged to have been driven by a paparazzo, James Andanson. Andanson later died under suspicious circumstances. He supposedly committed suicide by setting himself on fire inside his car, a peculiar way to go to say the least. It was reported that Christophe Pelat, a French fireman who had arrived on the scene, stated that Andanson appeared to have a bullet hole in his head. The Sipa Agency, Andanson’s new employer, was later targeted in a highly suspicious burglary in which camera, laptops, and hard-drives were taken while employees were held hostage.

Andanson’s role in the story seems to suggest that the possibility of him being complicit in Diana’s death had kept him muzzled and, therefore, safe. The continued clamoring for answers in regards to what really happened, however, may have made Andanson’s continued presence inconvenient.

Meanwhile, there is the well-publicized case of Lionel Cherruault, a London based photo-journalist whose house was broken into the night following Diana’s death. The only items that disappeared from Cherruault’s office were electronic and computer equipment; equipment that contained photos and other information, even though other valuable items lay there in plain view. A police report stated the following: “The computer equipment stolen contained a huge library of royal photographs and appears to have been the main target for the perpetrators.” In a sworn statement to the Executive Intelligence Review, Cherruault claimed that a police officer came to Cherruault’s home and told him that the break-in was clearly the work of: “Special Branch, MI5, MI6, call it what you like, this was no ordinary burglary.”

These and other elements, while merely fishy in and of themselves, begin to add up to something disturbing when taken into account altogether. And, as is often the case wherein the justice system is concerned, wealth has been a deciding factor in keeping the inquest alive. If it weren’t for Dodi’s father, Mohamed Al Fayed, and his coterie of expensive lawyers, the murky nature of Diana’s death, may very well have been forgotten by now. As it stands, Lord Justice Scott Baker will reside over a jury inquest to take place starting following the ten year anniversary of the tragedy.

The inquest has published a list of twenty likely issues to be considered including some already mentioned in this article. The full list can be found at the this address.

I am now left to wonder if the government will also publish a list of people who will commit suicide or die in a suspicious accident, if the inquest comes close to uncovering some unpleasant truth.

(Please visit Children of Shem for the chance to read and purchase Omar Eljumaily’s novel)

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