That day, she told her friend that she wanted to change her life and withdraw from the public eye. "She would then, she said, be able to live as she had always wanted to live," the friend said. But she never got the chance to do so.
The last 24 hours of her life may have seemed completely ordinary for Princess Diana, including everything from trying to have a normal life in the spotlight and running away from the paparazzi. Naturally, she and her beau, Dodi Fayed were completely unaware that it would be their very last day and that Lady Diana would soon leave the entire world to grieve over the loss of the most beloved princess.
Having fallen head over heels with each other, the two of them were "blissfully happy" as described by her friend, Richard Kay. On Aug. 30, 1997, she and Dodi Fayed kicked off their day with coffee, croissants, and each other's company on the top deck of his yacht. According to the Washington Post, their butler recalled, "They were in a good mood. They were always laughing, holding hands."
During the day, she rung up Richard Kay and told him how she was looking forward to turning her life around and withdrawing "from her formal public life".
"She would then, she said, be able to live as she had always wanted to live," Richard Kay wrote in an article for the Daily Mail, published on Pressreader. "Not as an icon — how she hated to be called one — but as a private person. It was a dream sequence I'd heard from her before, but this time I knew she meant it."
The time when Diana's voice brightened up during their phone conversation was when she mentioned "her boys". She was looking forward to returning home the next day and told Richard Kay, "I will have a few days with them before they're back at school".
There were a number of sources that talked about whether Diana and Dodi Fayed were really in a serious relationship. But many believed that she was finally happy again. "On that Saturday evening, Diana was as happy as I have ever known her," Richard Kay wrote. "For the first time in years, all was well with her world."
It was reported that Dodi Fayed pulled his butler aside and told him he was planning to propose to her that very Saturday night. But the paparazzi, who was always right on their tail, didn't make things easy.
"The ring was on the nightstand in his bedroom," author Christopher Anderson wrote in The Day Diana Died, as reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Dodi had checked to make sure they had several bottles of Dom Pérignon on ice for the big moment."
However, their plans to have dinner at a cozy, casual bistro called Chez Benoit was ruined by aggressive photographers, desperate for the right click of one of the most famous women in the world dining with her lover. They decided to head to the dining room at The Ritz, hoping to get some time by themselves as they had dinner. "No sooner had they ordered, they began to feel the indiscreet stares of other diners." the ex-Time reporters wrote.
They had Princess Diana's vegetable tempura and Dodi Fayed's grilled turbot delivered to the Imperial Suite, where they were staying. But they now had to figure a way to get themselves to their apartment. Dodi Fayed decided it was best to have their driver and bodyguards drive off first to throw the photograhers off, while the couple exits through the backdoor in a borrowed car. Driving the car was the hotel's security officer, Henri Paul, who was said to have been "drinking all day", according to the Daily Mail.
Some of the photographers got wind of the situation and started following the couple's car. Henri Paul lost control of the Mercedes car as he made his way into the Pont de l’Alma underpass, and he crashed into a concrete pillar, killing himself and Dodi Fayed on the spot.
Princess Diana was taken to the hospital but she passed away a few hours later and the news of her death put the entire world in shock.
At 4 AM on August 31, 1997, Princess Diana was pronounced dead, according to USA Today. And a few hours later, her body was carried out of the Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital in a coffin, draped as per royal standards, and taken back to England.
She was laid to rest in the grounds of Althorp Park, her family home, according to BBC. What can never be buried, is the legacy she left behind.