A British judge has declared that those long-bubbling conspiracy theories linking Buckingham Palace denizens with Princess Diana's death are nothing more than a royal pain.
Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker, the judge presiding over the six-month inquest into the 1997 death of the people's princess and her paramour, said that jurors could decide among five options as the cause, none of which hints at any sort of staged or premeditated killing.
The options the jurors do have: unlawful killing by grossly negligent driving of the paparazzi in following vehicles; unlawful killing through the gross negligence of the driver, Henri Paul; unlawful killing by the grossly negligent driving of both the following vehicles and Mr. Paul; accidental death; and open verdict.
Not long after Diana and Dodi Fayed perished in an car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, conspiracy theories about assassinations orchestrated by the royal family and carried out by the MI6 spy agency have run rampant, mostly thanks to Dodi's dad, Mohamed Al Fayed.
Baker, however, called the Harrod's owner's various postulations "so demonstrably without foundation" that the jury would not be able to take them into account when deciding a verdict.
"They are not being pursued because there is not a shred of evidence to support them," he said in court, going on to clear the name of the Queen's husband, Prince Philip. "There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's execution, and there is no evidence that the secret intelligence service or any other government agency organized it."
Baker went on to say that the inquest, which has come at great cost to the British public, did initially take seriously Al Fayed's claims, but testimony and evidence from more than 250 witnesses over the better part of a year bore out that they held no merit whatsoever.
Still, Baker said, he knew full well conspiracy theorists would cling on to Al Fayed's assertions, regardless of the inquest's ruling.
"There are no doubt those who genuinely believe this to be the case and will continue to do so regardless of any verdict you return," he said. "You have heard the evidence and it is your decision that matters, not anyone else's."
The judge also went on to express regret over some less than forthcoming witnesses, chief among them Diana's butler Paul Burrell. Following a three-day deposition in January, Burrell told Britain's Sun tabloid that he intentionally withheld facts and planted "red herrings" in his testimony, but refused to return to court to explain the discrepancies between his testimony and the newspaper article.
Baker was unable to order Burrell back to the courthouse as he is currently living in the U.S. and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the court.