The night of Princess Diana's death as told by the only survivor of the car crash, Trevor Rees-Jones

Ross McGuinness

It is almost 20 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The princess died from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.

She was one of four people in the car when it struck a support pillar at the Pont de L’Alma tunnel while trying to outrun paparazzi.

Diana survived the crash but died in hospital a few hours later. Her partner, Dodi Fayed, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was the driver, Henri Paul, deputy head of security at the Hotel Ritz where the couple were staying, owned by Mr Fayed’s father, Mohamed Al-Fayed.

The 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death is at the end of this month (Picture: Rex)

The only survivor of the crash was Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who had worked as a private security guard for Mr al-Fayed at Harrods in London before guarding the princess and Mr Fayed.

The bodyguard, now known as Trevor Rees, suffered a number of broken bones and a flattened face that had to be surgically reconstructed. He also spent 10 days in a coma.

MORE: Who was involved in the crash which killed Princess Diana?
MORE: Princess Diana tapes: What did TV critics make of controversial documentary?
MORE: ‘Dynamite’ secret Princess Diana tapes in which she talks about her sex life will finally be aired
MORE: The phone call from Camilla that ‘led to the end of Charles and Diana’s marriage’

Surgeons used 150 pieces of titanium to rebuild his face and used old family photos of him as a guide.

Here is what happened on the night of Diana’s death, in the words of the only survivor of the crash that killed her.

Trevor Rees underwent surgery to reconstruct his face after the car crash (Picture: Rex)

Mr Rees was born in Germany in 1968 to British Army surgeon Colin Rees and his nurse wife, Gill.

The family – he was the middle of three sons – moved to Oswestry, Shropshire, when he was ten. Mr Rees joined the Combined Cadet Force and after his A-levels joined the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, serving in Northern Ireland.

In 1995, he became a private security guard for Mr al-Fayed, and then went on to guard the princess and Dodi Fayed.

On August 30, 1997, Diana and Mr Fayed had intended to stay in his father’s hotel in Paris, but found it surrounded by paparazzi.

Mr Paul came up with a plan for the couple to leave via a back door in order to escape photographers and go to Mr Fayed’s apartment near the Champs Elysées.

At the inquest in 2008 in London into the deaths of Diana and Mr Fayed, Mr Rees said he wasn’t pleased with the plan.

‘I wasn’t happy as it meant Dodi would be splitting the security officers, but I went along with it,’ he said.

Mr Rees, left, Diana and the driver of the car, Henri Paul (Picture: Rex)

‘I advised Dodi that we could leave from the front of the hotel in two vehicles as the crowd and the press would be pushed back across the road at the front of the hotel.

‘Initially I had been told that Dodi and Diana would travel without security and I said this would not happen, that I would travel in the vehicle with them.’

The inquest jury found that the deaths of Diana and Mr Fayed were caused by the chasing paparazzi and Mr Paul’s dangerous driving – tests carried out after the crash showed the driver of the black Mercedes S280 limo, which hit the pillar at 65mph, was three times over the drink driving limit. None of the four people in the car were wearing seat belts.

Mr Rees had split from his first wife Sue in the months before the crash, and in 2003 he married Ann Scott, a teacher.

He recovered from his injuries and went on to play rugby for a local team and set up a business as a security consultant. He was working in Iraq at the time of the inquest.

Mr Rees published a book in 2000, The Bodyguard’s Story: Diana, The Crash, And The Sole Survivor, although he always maintained he remembered very little about the crash.

Mr Rees spoke at the inquest in 2008 into the deaths of Diana and Dodi Fayed (Picture: Rex)

He went back to work for Mr al-Fayed in the months after the crash, but resigned in 1998, and later claimed his boss had put pressure on him to remember details about the night of the tragedy.

Much of the rumoured £1 million that Mr Rees earned from his book was used to fight a number of lawsuits against Mr al-Fayed, who claimed his son and Diana had been killed on the orders of the royal family.

Mr Rees told the inquest: ‘I am not part of a conspiracy to suppress the truth at all. All I have ever done is give the truth as I see it.’

The bodyguard told the coroner he had two vague memories of the crash. Firstly, he said he remembered a motorbike pulling alongside the car at traffic lights during the fateful journey.

In the aftermath, he also said he heard a woman’s voice ‘moaning’ and calling out ‘Dodi’. However, he said he wasn’t sure if they were real recollections or ‘false memories’.

The wreckage was shown to the jury at the inquest (Picture: Rex)

Mr Rees told the inquest: ‘I have a memory of stopping at traffic lights and seeing a motorcycle on the right hand side of the car.

‘I’m not sure about the other vehicles but I can remember this motorcycle very clearly.

‘My memory then is of total confusion. I don’t remember the pain but in my head there was a lot of confusion.

‘I don’t remember if someone was holding me or attempting to give me treatment.

‘I remember having heard somebody moaning and the name Dodi was uttered but I don’t know who said it. On the other hand if there was no-one else there apart from us, I conclude that it was Princess Diana as it was a female voice.

‘These memories are vague and I myself doubt them but I’m mentioning them as these memories are coming back to me repeatedly.’

Mr Rees captured on CCTV at the Ritz Hotel in Paris hours before the crash (Picture: Rex)

Mr Rees was shown CCTV footage taken inside the Ritz of the group leaving the hotel and asked if anything jogged his memory.

He replied: ‘I’m afraid not, no.’

Mr Rees said he was unaware that Mr Paul had been drinking before he got behind the wheel of the car carrying the princess.

He also dismissed claims by Mr al-Fayed that his son and Diana had gone to a jewellery shop in Monte Carlo to pick out an engagement ring.

Asked if the alleged visit had happened, Mr Rees replied: ‘No Sir, it did not.’

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes