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The Crown: The Lone Survivor of Princess Diana’s Deadly Crash

Trevor Rees-Jones doesn’t keep in mind the second his head hit the dashboard of the Mercedes-Benz carrying Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed throughout that tragic 1997 automobile crash. In actual fact, the bodyguard, who was employed by Fayed’s billionaire father Mohamed Al-Fayed on the time, doesn’t keep in mind a lot concerning the doomed drive in Paris, past entering into the entrance passenger seat of the automobile not removed from the Ritz the night time of August 30. He would solely study the ugly particulars about 10 days after the accident, when he awoke from a medically-induced coma contained in the Hospital La Pitié Salpêtrière—the identical hospital, he was instructed, the place surgeons unsuccessfully tried to revive Diana.

“I had a monitoring tube out of my throat so I couldn’t make any sound,” Rees-Jones later instructed CNN, recalling the horror of of the information, coupled with the shock of his situation. His jaw was wired, his head was bandaged, and his damaged neck was contained in a brace. “[I] simply needed to lie there and simply soak up it, and that was fairly troublesome to do.”

Rees-Jones was instructed that the Mercedes-Benz he was in had collided with a pillar of the Pont de l’Alma with such pressure that the automobile crumpled like a steel accordion. (“Anytime I take a look at the automobile, it amazes me how anybody obtained out of there alive, particularly myself who was sitting within the entrance seat,” Rees-Jones instructed CNN.) Diana suffered chest, lung, and head accidents, and was moaning contained in the automobile when some photographers discovered her—and, reasonably than serving to the princess, started snapping photographs. 

Although the primary 4 episodes of The Crown’s sixth season revolve across the crash, Rees-Jones just isn’t depicted on the collection.

In actual life, the bodyguard hit his head so arduous in the course of the crash that his “face was utterly smashed…[and] crushed” in accordance with Luc Chikhani, the surgeon who reconstructed the bodyguard’s face throughout an 11-hour surgical procedure. “I’ve by no means seen so many fractures on a person who was nonetheless alive,” the physician later instructed the BBC.

Chikhani rebuilt Rees-Jones’s face primarily based on images, utilizing 30 steel screws and plates, plus bone from his cranium to make cheekbones and grafting cartilage to create a brand new nostril. Regardless of the severity of the bodyguard’s accidents, recalled the surgeon, “Nobody appeared to care about this man…Secret Service and police from England and France got here to ask after they may discuss to him, however nobody requested how he was recovering.”

Wracked with “survivor’s guilt” and the horror of understanding his expenses had “died on my shift,” Rees-Jones instructed The Guardian that, in his darkest moments, “I believed…it will be quite a bit much less trouble if I wasn’t round.”

Rees-Jones resumed working for Al-Fayed inside six months of the accident. However the relationship between bodyguard and boss—the latter who floated conspiracy theories concerning the accident to the press—ultimately grew bitter. Rees-Jones left Al-Fayed’s make use of, and the billionaire started publicly blaming the bodyguard for contributing to Dodi and Diana’s deaths. 

Although Rees-Jones had largely stayed mum within the aftermath of the crash—even reportedly turning down one million {dollars} from The Nationwide Enquirer—Al-Fayed’s claims ultimately impressed the bodyguard to publish a guide in his personal protection.

“[Al-Fayed] has now {accused} myself and [Keiran Wingfield, a second bodyguard on duty] of claiming that our lack of professionalism—as is his phrases, not mine—our lack of professionalism contributed or induced the accident that killed his son and the princess,” Rees-Jones stated in 2000, explaining his motivation to write down The Bodyguard’s Story: Diana, the Crash, and the Sole Survivor. Throughout a press tour for the guide, Rees-Jones respectfully skirted questions concerning the particulars of Diana’s relationship with Dodi, as an alternative explaining the chaotic occasions main as much as the deadly crash.

Fiona Hanson/Getty Photos.