Henri Paul

French driver of the car in which Princess Diana died

Henri Paul (3 July 1956 – 31 August 1997) was Head of Security at the Hôtel Ritz Paris in Paris, France. He is known for being the hotel's hired Mercedes-Benz taxi driver of the vehicle which he killed himself, Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed. A few hours later, he, Diana and Dodi died.

Henri Paul
Born(1956-07-03)3 July 1956
Died31 August 1997(1997-08-31) (aged 41)
Cause of deathcar accident
OccupationHead of Security
Years active1986-1997
EmployerMohamed Al-Fayed
Known fordriving the vehicle in which Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed died
Parent(s)Jean Paul
Gisèle Paul

Education and careerEdit

Born in Lorient, Paul was one of the five children of Jean Paul, a teacher, and Gisèle Paul, who worked at the city council. An aviation aficionado, Paul earned his pilot's license at age 18 from Vannes and served in the Air Force. After graduating from high school, he decided to move to Paris, where he initially worked as an aviation instructor and later in the nautical industry selling boats. In 1986, he was hired at the Hôtel Ritz Paris, eventually becoming a confidant of the Al-Fayed family, owner of the hotel. Initially deputy head of security, on June 30, 1997, he became the head of security at the Ritz.


Paul was on duty the night of August 31, 1997, taking Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed from the Hôtel Ritz Paris to an apartment on rue Arsène Houssaye, a short distance from the hotel. At the wheel of a Mercedes S280, Paul drove at high speed in order to outrun the paparazzi who were chasing the vehicle. When it arrived at the entrance to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, the car was traveling at an estimated speed of between 118 and 155 km/h, with the maximum authorized speed at that point being 50 km/h. The car swerved inside the tunnel and collided violently with one of the pillars of the underpass. As a result of the accident, Paul and Al-Fayed died instantly. The Princess of Wales died hours later at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital and Trevor Rees-Jones, Diana's bodyguard in the service of the Al-Fayed family, was the only survivor. Although he suffered numerous fractures to his facial bones (only he was wearing a seat belt). The Paris Prosecutor's Office obtained information through the Criminal Brigade with the aim of clarifying the causes of the incident. The investigation concluded, as would the later British investigation, that the driver was driving recklessly under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The toxicological studies carried out a few days after the accident under the direction of Professor Ivan Ricordel showed traces of prescription drugs for Paul as well as a blood alcohol level of 1.87 grams per liter of blood, more than three times the authorized limit for driving in France (a second test, commissioned by the Paris prosecutor's office, confirmed a rate of between 1.73 and 1.75 g/l). Paul was also allegedly taking several medications at the time of his death: Prozac, an antidepressant, Noctamid, a sleeping pill, Tiapride, a neuroleptic often used against alcoholism and Aotal, an acamprosate. All these medications recommend in their prospects not to drive if you consume them. The investigations carried out in the framework of the judicial investigation established that Henri Paul had bank accounts for a total amount of approximately one million francs (around 152,400 euros) at the time of the events and that he had in his possession on the night of the accident a sum of money just over 1,900 francs (about 290 euros). This data fed several conspiracy theories which present Paul as an informant for the DGSE, MI6 or even Mossad. Apparently, the paparazzi obtained (for a fee) information about the people who reported to him as head of security at Hôtel Ritz Paris. On September 3, 1999, the nine photographers and the motorcyclist accused of "involuntary homicides and injuries" as well as "failure to assist people in danger" did not come to trial when the charges were withdrawn, blaming the justice system for the accident on Paul, who was driving under the influence of alcohol and various psychotropic drugs.