The Truth About Princess Diana's Relationship With Dodi Fayed

When Princess Diana entered Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris, France on August 31, 1997, no one could have guessed that a crash inside the tunnel would ultimately end her life. Pursued by paparazzi, driven in a Mercedes by drunk driver Henri Paul, that was the last time anyone saw her conscious. She died hours later in the hospital, per Oprah Daily. At the time, the press and the world focused on mourning Lady Di but she wasn't the only one in the car that night. Aside from the driver, Diana's security guard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was there; he survived with a crushed face that was reconstructed over the following year, as the Irish Times says. Also in the car was Princess Diana's post-divorce boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. Dodi Fayed was killed, as was Paul.

In the years since Diana and Dodi's death, the speculation and conspiracy tales have slowed down but haven't stopped. As Dodi's grieving father Mohamed still insists, his son and Diana were killed to prevent them from getting married. The reason, he explained to the New Zealand Herald: his son was Muslim. So, Prince Philip allegedly orchestrated a hit, used Diana's security forces (hence bodyguard Rees-Jones survived), and the rest is false history.

Under such groundless accusations, though, and the gloss of celebrity and the past, there existed some actual relationship between Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. Was it serious enough to merit talks of marriage? No one knows. By this point, though, we at least know enough facts to shed some light on their relationship.

A known playboy and the last of Lady Di's boyfriends

Dodi Fayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1955, to a life of wealth, privilege, and private schools, as Town & Country says. His father, Mohamed Al-Fayed, was the owner of Harrods luxury department store in London and the Ritz Hotel, the place where Diana and Dodi departed from on the night of their deaths. Dodi was a known playboy who dated model Suzanne Gregard, actress Cathy-Lee Crosby, and was rumored to have dated Brooke Shields, Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, and Nancy Sinatra. According to The Guardian, he once remarked to a friend, "When am I going to meet a woman so famous she will get my face on the cover of People magazine?"

By all accounts, Diana and Dodi met in 1986 at a polo match when she was still married to Prince Charles when Charles and Dodi were on opposite teams. The following year in 1997, Dodi invited Diana, Prince William, and Prince Henry to his yacht in the south of France. At the time, per BBC, Diana had been dating surgeon Hasnat Khan. Khan states that after Diana visited Dodi on his yacht, she broke off her two-year relationship with Khan. Sometime that August, as She Knows shows, a photograph circulated around the world, of Diana and Dodi kissing while wearing swimsuits on Dodi's yacht. Less than a month later, they were both dead.

A whirlwind of acrimony, machinations, and rash behavior

Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's fateful relationship lasted only a matter of months, but during that short time they caused quite a stir. The Guardian tells a tale of rambunctious, almost impetuous behavior, and the couple playing "a manic game of peekaboo with the press." Dodi had a monthly allowance of £400,000, a private jet, multiple yachts, multiple residences including a home in Southern France, and Diana had the legacy of a royal divorcee that she, by all accounts, desperately wanted to escape. Even as paparazzi pursued Diana at every turn, and she and Dodi did things like spray them with a water pistol from a tiny dinghy on the Bay of St. Tropez, disaster loomed and became evermore predictable — at least in hindsight.

Dodi's father Mohammed al-Fayed encouraged the somewhat scandalous relationship between his son and the British crown's former princess. As The Guardian explains, Al-Fayed wanted a British passport and apparently wanted to "build an alternative power base" in England using Diana as leverage. This might also be the reason for Dodi's original engagement to English model Kelly Fisher, who stayed on a separate yacht even while Dodi entertained Diana on another yacht. "Don't you f*** with me, Dodi," The Guardian quotes her when she found out. "You flew her [Diana] down to St. Tropez and were seeing her all day, and f****** me by night." 

A mess of broken relationships and accusations

The royal family apparently wasn't too pleased with Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's relationship, per Town & Country, with its scandalous overtones and Dodi's reputation as a playboy. And yet, by that point, Diana wasn't even a royal.

To further complicate things, Dodi broke off his engagement with model Kelly Fisher to be with Diana. Two days before their wedding, per The Sun, Dodi called Fisher on the telephone and ended things — this happened around when the famous picture of him and Diana kissing hit the news. Fisher then appeared on the news with a gigantic engagement ring, announcing that she was suing Dodi for $500,000 because she gave up her career for him. When Dodi passed away, the suit was dropped.

After Diana and Dodi died, Dodi's father laid the blame for his son's death at the feet of the royal family, especially "Nazi Philip" (per The Guardian), saying the House of Windsor must have "ice water in their veins" (per Reuters). Former Prince Harry more recently took a similar stance, comparing his mother's relationship to Dodi with his relationship with his wife, Meghan. Per Hello Magazine, he said, "My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn't white, and now look what's happened. You wanna talk about history repeating itself?" Following the accident, Harrods department store erected a Diana and Dodi shrine (above) that still stands in their honor.