Her casket, shrouded in a flag bearing the crest of Windsor, was borne by the royal guard--each wearing a black armband--and placed in a hearse at London's RAF Northold airstrip. A small motorcade took the remains to an undisclosed, private mortuary. No funeral plans have been announced yet.
Di's death in a car wreck in a Paris tunnel has shaken Britain and the rest of the world--drawing comparisons to the murder of John F. Kennedy and the untimely death of Princess Grace of Monaco. Admirers placed bouquets of flowers at the accident scene and in front of the gates of Kensington Palace, her British residence.
The body of her boyfriend, Harrods heir and part-time Hollywood player Dodi Fayed, returned on a separate plane to England for burial.
Ever since she began seeing Dodi in July, the media scrutiny of her life--already the most photographed existence in the world--intensified, ultimately with tragic results.
French officials expect Diana's bodyguard to survive, though he remains in intensive care with moderate head and chest wounds. Many believe that once he recovers he will be able to explain what went so horribly wrong in the Paris tunnel shortly after midnight local time.
This much is known. Di and Dodi had finished dining at the Ritz Hotel late Saturday. To avoid a crush of press assembled outside, the couple exited the hotel--owned by Fayed's father--through a rear door and entered a black Mercedes. The car sped off at speeds approaching 100 mph, far exceeding the speed limit of the city streets. Several paparazzi followed, including some on motorcycle.
The pursued and pursuers raced into the tunnel at the Place de l'Alma, blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Somewhere inside, the Mercedes carrying the Princess and Fayed lost control and careened into a piling. The car crumpled, instantly killing Fayed, 41, and the chauffeur. Princess Diana was taken to a trauma ward, but the doctors were unable to revive her. She died of heart failure at 4 a.m. Paris time. She was 36.
According to French press reports, several paparazzi began snapping photos of the wreck before emergency crews arrived.
Parisian police detained at least seven photogs--blaming them in part for the crash. A full criminal investigation has been launched.
The hounding paparazzi have come under fire from every quarter. Diana's brother, Charles, said he always though snooping photogs "would kill her in the end." A lawyer for Fayed's controversial father Mohammed Al Fayed, said he will bring an invasion of privacy lawsuit against them.
Even the notorious National Enquirer has spoken out. Steve Coz, editor for the tabloid, said the photos of the chase and death scene are on sale for $1 million. He urged a boycott by all publications on the photographs.
More personal reaction to the deaths trickled in throughout the early morning hours. Al Fayed angrily denounced the accident that claimed the life of his son as an "appalling and quite needless tragedy." British Prime Minister Tony Blair felt "utterly devastated." President Clinton said he was "profoundly saddened."
Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying the "Queen and Prince of Wales are deeply shocked and distressed." Prince Charles awoke his young sons, Princes William and Harry, before dawn and gave them the news. Diana was due back in England today to see her two boys.
The royal family attended a memorial service in Scotland Sunday morning. Charles then flew to Paris to view the remains of his former Princess and bring her back to British soil.
Her life began as the stuff of fairy tales. The third of Lord and Lady Althrop's four children, Lady Diana Spencer was born July 1, 1961. She was 16 when she first met the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne and 12 years her senior. Charles proposed to Di in 1981, propelling the then 19-year-old kindergarten teacher's aide into international prominence.
The couple's lavish wedding later that year was watched by some 750 million people around the world. Just over 10 years later, the royals split--torn apart by competing interests and adulterous liaisons. Their divorce was made official last year.
Even with no royal duties, her popularity eclipsed that of her former husband. She was a tireless promoter of good causes, using her stature for AIDS and cancer charities and campaigning for a worldwide ban on land mines.