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 Henri Paul

Henri Paul

Birth
Lorient, Departement du Morbihan, Bretagne, France
Death 31 Aug 1997 (aged 41)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Lorient, Departement du Morbihan, Bretagne, France
Memorial ID 2018 · View Source
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Driver of the car in which British Princess Diana was killed. At the time of the death of Princess Diana, he was an employee of the Hotel Ritz Paris, and was instructed to chauffeur the Mercedes-Benz carrying her, Mr. Dodi Al-Fayed (Diana’s love interest), and Mr. Trevor Rees-Jones (bodyguard for Fayed), while they attempted to elude paparazzi photographers. Earlier that day, Princess Diana, Fayed, and Rees-Jones had flown into Paris from Sardinia, and rode in a Mercedes driven by Fayed’s regular chauffeur, Phillippe Dourneau. Dourneau would drive them to the apartment owned by Fayed, arriving about 4:00 pm, and would later drive them to dinner at the Hotel Ritz Paris. Paul, off duty, would go to the “Harry’s New York Bar” near the hotel he worked at, and was drinking there from approximately 7:00 pm to 9:45 pm, when he received a telephone call to return to the hotel, arriving about 10:08 pm. There he drank several drinks at the hotel bar while Fayed and Diana had dinner. When the couple was ready to leave the hotel and return to Fayed’s apartment, it was nearly midnight, and a crowd had gathered at the hotel, including paparazzi, curious to see Princess Diana. Rees-Jones decided to switch drivers, having Dourneau drive another vehicle in the hopes of having the paparazzi follow the wrong car. Paul would drive the Mercedes with Rees-Jones, Fayed and Diana. Unfortunately, the paparazzi were not fooled by the ruse. At the time of the accident, Paul was trying to elude the paparazzi at high speed, when he apparently lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a column supporting the Alma Tunnel, killing him and Fayed instantly. Diana would die later at the hospital. Rees-Jones survived the car crash with severe injuries. Blood-alcohol tests on Paul’s body indicate that his BAL was 1.75 grams per liter, more than legally sufficient to indicate that he was intoxicated and should not have been driving. The autopsy tests also indicated that he was suffering from moderate, chronic alcoholism, had been drinking for several days prior to the accident, and both Prozac and tiapride was found in his system. An alcoholic, he had tried to quit drinking earlier in the year, and was taking tiapride, a drug used to treat alcoholism. The tests indicated that he had stopped taking the tiapride, although some remnants of the drug remained in his system. He had been taking Prozac since May, when his girlfriend broke up with him. The police conclusion was that he was taking an antidepressant whose intoxication effect was reinforced by alcohol, and had stopped taking the one drug to treat his alcohol abuse. Those who were closest to him thought that he was making progress in trying to cure his drinking problem, however, he was apparently covering up his problem. Five years later, his parents, Jean and Gisele Paul, sued to clear their son’s name, indicating their belief that the blood samples taken from their son were mixed up in the Paris lab where the testing was done. They cited the fact that in 1974, their son had received a private pilot’s license, and that three days before the accident his annual flight physical did not indicate his alcoholism. Paul was 41 years old when he died.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2018
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henri Paul (3 Jul 1956–31 Aug 1997), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2018, citing Lorient Kerentrech Cemetery, Lorient, Departement du Morbihan, Bretagne, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .