Queen Thought Diana's Brakes had Been 'Greased' After Hearing of Crash

Queen Elizabeth II thought "someone must have greased the brakes" upon hearing of Princess Diana's death in a Paris car crash, a new biography states.

The monarch did not yet know the princess had died when she made the remark, on first learning of the crash in an underpass in 1997, according to The Queen by Andrew Morton.

A lengthy investigation by Britain's Metropolitan Police, codenamed Operation Paget, eventually ruled out foul play. However, the Queen's early reaction after the tragedy shows just how extensive fears about Diana's safety were at the time.

The princess herself told friends she believed someone sabotaged her brakes two years earlier in 1995 and expressed fears for her future safety.

Princess Diana and Queen
Princess Diana, seen at a reception for her 'Dresses Auction' at Christie's In London, in June 1997, two months before the Paris car crash that took her life. Queen Elizabeth II is pictured at Westminster Abbey for Diana's funeral, on September 6, 1997. Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images and Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Morton—who wrote a bombshell 1992 biography of Diana based on tape-recorded confessions the princess made for him—described how Prince Charles reacted to news of his ex-wife's death by asking: "What have we done to deserve this?"

Serialized in the Daily Mail, the book reads: "Early reports suggested that Diana had suffered only a broken arm and walked away from the accident in a Paris underpass.

"Her mother-in-law's initial response to the news was extraordinary: 'Someone must have greased the brakes.'

"Her reaction shocked and puzzled her staff, who'd rarely heard her use such colloquial language. Was the Queen implying that Diana had been a target?"

The book offered an alternative possibility that her boyfriend Dodi Fayed may have been the true target based on an attack by the enemies of his father, businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed.

Morton added: "Sinister schemes, murderous intrigues and cold-hearted conspiracies: anything seemed possible in the uneasy hours before dawn.

"In a rare show of affection, the sovereign and her son physically consoled one another, perhaps sensing that this event was going to be emotionally unprecedented.

"The Queen ordered a pot of tea but never touched a drop as she, Prince Philip and Prince Charles paced the tartan-carpeted corridor, wondering what should be done.

"When news of Diana's death came through, Charles wept, saying over and over: 'What have we done to deserve this?'

"His first instincts were about how the public would blame him for the tragedy—an assumption that was largely accurate."

After Diana's death, multiple reports emerged of Princess Diana fearing a hit on her by means of the U.K. security services tampering with her brakes.

Simone Simmons, a psychic healer who Princess Diana confided in, said Diana thought one attempt had already been made in 1995, according to her police statement.

The official Operation Paget police report, which was published in full, reads: "Simone Simmons stated that one day in 1995 [Paget Note: She cannot be more specific after this length of time] the Princess of Wales telephoned her from her car saying that the brakes had failed and that she thought they had been tampered with.

"The Princess of Wales subsequently wrote a note to Simone Simmons stating that
MI5 or MI6 were involved. Simone Simmons believed the note read something like:
'Dear Simone, as you know, the brakes of my car have been tampered with. If
something does happen to me it will be MI5 or MI6 who will have done it. Lots of
love, Diana.'"

Diana's legal adviser, Lord Mishcon, said Diana raised concerns about an attempt on her life at a meeting in October 1995.

The report stated: "He wrote that the Princess of Wales had told him, that 'reliable sources' (whom she did not wish to name) had informed her that by April 1996, whether in an accident in her car such as a pre-prepared brake failure or by other means, efforts would be made if not to get rid of her, then at least to see that she was so injured or damaged as to be declared unbalanced."

However, an inquest spent six months examining the available evidence and ruled in 2008 that the "gross negligent driving" by Henri Paul was the cause of Diana and Dodi's unlawful killing.

The acting head of security at the Ritz Hotel was at the wheel of the car and the jury also ruled the paparazzi who were pursuing the vehicle were partly responsible.

The forewoman of the jury told the court: "The crash was caused or contributed to by the speed and manner of the driving of the Mercedes, the speed and manner of driving of the following vehicles, the impairment of the judgment of the driver of the Mercedes through alcohol, and there are nine of us who agree on those conclusions.

"In addition, the death of the deceased was caused or contributed to by the fact that the deceased [were] not wearing seatbelt(s), the fact that the Mercedes struck the pillar in the Alma Tunnel rather than colliding with something else—and we are unanimous on that, sir."

The Queen, by Andrew Morton, will be published by Michael O'Mara on May 24.

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