SPEAKING FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE PRINCESS’S BODYGUARD TELLS SECRETS OF HER LAST DAYS
Article by David Paul
The Sunday Express
Published 26th June 2005
PRINCESS Diana was convinced she was about to be assassinated in the days before she died, according to a new witness.
Former bodyguard Lee Sansum has told the Sunday Express of Diana’s deepest fears – magnified by the shooting of her friend Gianni Versace – before she made her fateful final journey through the streets of Paris.
His revelations will fuel growing speculation that the car crash in which Diana lost her life in August 1997 was deliberate. Mr Sansum, who worked for Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, has broken an eight-year silence to talk about the day Diana learned of Versace’s murder and how she even asked him: “Do you think they could kill me?” Mr Sansum told how he had been ordered to protect Diana when she flew to France’s Cote d’Azur for a lavish holiday with her lover Dodi Fayed.
But her joy at spending time on the Fayed family’s £21million yacht with Dodi and her young sons William and Harry was shattered when fashion designer Versace was gunned down outside his Florida mansion.
Mr Sansum, 43, said: “The Princess was on board the Fayed family’s yacht, the Jonikel, and on July 15, the morning the news broke about Versace, I was heading towards my cabin and bumped into her standing on one of the glass fronted viewing decks.
“She was wearing a swimsuit with shorts and a thin blouse over the top and was looking out towards the sea. I said, ‘Good morning Ma’am’. It was obvious she had been crying.
“She said to me, ‘Have you heard the news about Versace?’ I said I had. She was really upset.
“She was crying and I couldn’t stop myself, so I put my arms out to comfort her and I gave her a hug. It was weird and I suddenly thought, ‘Lee what are you doing?’ and stepped back.
“She said to me, ‘What do you think has happened? Do you think Gianni Versace was assassinated? Who do you think has killed him? Do you think they could kill me?’
“I had got to know her quite well during the holiday and by then I took that to mean someone official killing her. She didn’t say, ‘Do you think anyone could kill me?’ She said ‘they’. I think she meant government agencies.
“I told her she was perfectly safe with us just to calm her down. It was all I could do.
“I felt she was very troubled, not just by Versace’s death, but for her own safety.”
Diana had arrived at Al Fayed’s stunning villa complex in St Tropez on July 11, 1997, accompanied by William and Harry. The trio enjoyed 10 days in the South of France before flying home to London. On July 22, Diana flew to Milan to attend Versace’s funeral.
But she flew back to St Tropez on July 31 for a second holiday with Dodi on board the Jonikel yacht – this time without her sons.
Diana was anxious for a distraction with the first anniversary of her divorce looming large in her thoughts.
The couple spent several happy days cruising off the coast of Sardinia. One night they enjoyed an open-air barbecue on a small island, their food served by a butler dressed in coat tails.
It was just four weeks later, on the night of August 30, that Diana and Dodi died in Paris.
Mr Al Fayed has consistently refused to accept that Henri Paul, a chauffeur at the Paris Ritz hotel, was to blame for the crash in a Paris underpass.
It has been claimed that Paul was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs as he climbed behind the wheel of the Mercedes limousine in which he, Diana and Dodi were killed.
Mr Al Fayed is convinced the couple were actually victims of a sinister plot involving British intelligence.
French judges have now ordered a fresh inquiry into claims that tests on Paul’s blood after he died were fabricated.
Last year Paul Burrell, Diana’s former butler, caused a sensation when he revealed details of a note the Princess had written alleging that the Prince of Wales was plotting to have her killed in a car crash.
She wrote: “He is planning an accident in my car, brake failure and serious head injury to make the path clear for him to (re)marry.”
In fact, Diana’s fears about a link between Versace’s death and an attempt on her own life were groundless. The fashion designer was shot by gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who went on a gun rampage killing five men before taking his own life while hiding on a Miami houseboat.
But Mr Al Fayed insists that in the last weeks of her life Diana repeatedly told him she was receiving death threats.
Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police chief, is leading a £2million inquiry into the Paris tragedy. He had been due to file his report this month – six months later than initially planned. Murder has not been ruled out.
Investigators are not now expected to complete the inquiry until the end of the year, delaying an inquest into Diana’s death by royal coroner Michael Burgess until next January.
During a 10-year Army career, Mr Sansum, a former sergeant in the Special Investigation’s Branch of the Royal Military Police, worked on top secret undercover missions in Northern Ireland.
Last night said he too could not accept the drink-drive theory for the Paris death crash.
Mr Sansum, who now runs a chain of karate schools in Elgin and Inverness, in Scotland, said: “I worked for the Al Fayeds for four years and knew Diana’s personal bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones well. I know that when you worked with Trevor drink was an absolute no-no.
“I don’t give much credence to the story that Henri Paul was drunk. Trevor would never have allowed the Princess to get in the car if he had smelled of drink. It just seems to me that we haven’t got the whole story yet.
“I spoke to Kez Wingfield, another of the Fayed bodyguards, shortly after the crash.
He had been in a decoy car getting the paparazzi photographers off Diana’s trail that night and he told me the guy, Henri Paul, wasn’t drunk. I’d be happy to tell the Stevens inquiry everything I know. The truth is the Princess feared she was about to be killed in the final weeks of her life.”
Earlier this month it emerged that Mr Paul, who earned just £20,000 a year as a Ritz chauffeur, had deposited £75,000 into 13 different bank accounts before the crash.
The cash has added to speculation that he was in the pay of British spymasters.
Months after the tragedy Mr Sansum helped carry Mr Rees-Jones, who suffered massive injuries in the crash, to Dodi’s mausoleum on the Fayed family estate in Oxted, Surrey.
Mr Sansum said: “Trevor was mentally and physically screwed up. He was confused and said: ‘Lee, this is the most important thing going on in the world and I just don’t know anything about it’ but he did tell me that Henri Paul had not been drinking.
“Whatever the truth about that awful night is, we don’t know it yet and I suspect we won’t until the security services can be persuaded to reveal everything they know.”
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