A fire chief who was one of the first people at the scene of Princess Diana's 1997 fatal car crash in Paris reportedly revealed, for the first time to the public, what the late royal said to him after the accident.
According to Sergeant Xavier Gourmelon, when he arrived at the August crash site, Diana — who died at 36 — turned to him and asked what had happened. The sergeant recalled how she was still "moving and talking" when he first approached her. He also admitted that he had no idea at the time that he was trying to save the Princess of Wales.
Four people were in the car at the time of the accident. The impact of the crash into an underpass instantly killed her driver, Henri Paul, and new boyfriend Dodi Fayed, it was reported. However, Diana appeared to be physically OK besides an injured shoulder, and her bodyguard was alive but injured.
Gourmelon — who gave statements to the police but never spoke to the press about the interaction — wasn't the only one who didn't recognize the royal member at the time. The same was true for off-duty doctor Frederic Mailliez, who was the first person to try and help Diana after he stumbled upon the scene while driving home from a party.
Mailliez saw "two [victims] were already apparently dead" and two others, referring to Diana and her bodyguard, "were severely injured but still alive," according to the outlet. The doctor reportedly first tried to help Diana, who was “sitting on the floor in the back” of the Mercedes, it was reported.
Mailliez recalled how beautiful she was when he first approached the accident, noting that she seemed physically weak but OK from the crash. “I discovered then she was a most beautiful woman and she didn’t have any [serious] injuries to her face. She was not bleeding [then] but she was almost unconscious and was having difficulty breathing,” he said. “She looked fine for the first minutes."
According to Mailliez, he tried to calm the princess down while they waited for help to come. “So I began to speak English to her, saying that I was a doctor and that the ambulance was on its way and everything is going to be all right," he explained.
After the emergency workers took over, Mailliez left the scene still thinking he had just helped an ordinary victim. “And so I left the scene without knowing who I had been treating,” he told the outlet.
News of Diana's car crash was so shocking that the hospital’s duty chaplain, Father Yves-Marie Clochard-Bossuet, didn't even believe it himself. In fact, he reportedly hung up the phone several times when asked to attend the royal, as he thought he was being pranked.
Once Clochard-Bossuet realized it was in fact Diana, he rushed over to the princess and saw her covered by a sheet because she had been pronounced dead. “I saw her for the first time there,” he said, adding that she had no marks on her face to indicate the fatality of the crash.
“She was completely intact, no mark or stain, or makeup. Completely natural. And she was a really beautiful woman and it seemed as if … you could almost talk to her,” Clochard-Bossuet remembered.
After coming to terms with the reality of the situation, the hospital duty chaplain recalled immediately thinking about her children whose lives would now be forever changed. “They are going to have to wake them up and tell them, ‘It’s over’ … It is the worst thing," he recalled.