Diana, the former Princess of Wales, died on 8.31.97. I was attending the Montreal Film Festival when the news broke. I remember talking it through with colleagues and then retreating to my hotel room and tapping out a reaction piece for my L.A. Times Syndicate column. The next day Rod Steiger, a guest of the festival, delivered a rant about how the papparazzi had killed her. Which they did in a way. But the primary villain was Dodi Fayed, the millionaire asshat whom Diana had been fucking for a few weeks.
I was working at People when Diana began seeing Fayed in July 1997. Two or three of us were asked to make some calls and prepare a file on the guy. Within three or four hours I’d learned that Fayed was an irresponsible playboy, didn’t pay his bills on occasion, lacked vision and maturity and basically wasn’t a man. And yet Diana overlooked this or didn’t want to know. And that’s why she died. She orchestrated her demise by choosing a profligate immature asshole for a boyfriend.
Fayed was just foolish and insecure enough, jet-setting around with his father’s millions and looking to play the protective stud by saving Diana from the paparazzi, to put her in harm’s way. It all came to a head on that fateful night in Paris. Fayed told his drunken chauffeur to try and outrun a bunch of easily finessable scumbag photographers on motorcycles, and we all know the rest.