In The Crown season six, episode three, Khalid Abdalla’s Dodi Fayed pulls out a ring to propose in a hotel room at the Ritz Paris. He never actually utters the phrase “Will you marry me?” – but Elizabeth Debicki’s Diana surmises it is coming: “I have a question I want to ask you, to which I hope you will indeed tell me yes,” Dodi asks as he gets on one knee. “No, no, no, no,” Debicki’s Diana replies. “Stop, I can’t bear it. This is madness. Please get up.”
The two then have a conversation about their future, where Diana admits she is not ready for marriage and doesn’t think Dodi is either: “I can’t make your father love you more by becoming your wife,” she says.
It’s an emotional scene, especially since the viewer knows what’s coming next: the two head out of the Ritz through the back door, where they are swarmed by paparazzi. Their driver, who is drunk, crashes their car in the tunnel under the Pont de l’Alma – killing both passengers and the driver.
While The Crown is a work of fiction, creator Peter Morgan takes his plot points from real-life events, blurring the lines between what was real and what was sensationalised in the process.
So in the case of Dodi and Diana, what actually happened?
Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana met in 1986 at a polo match in Windsor. At the time, Diana was married to Prince Charles, and their interaction was mostly just an introduction. Yet 11 years later, on 14 July, the two reunited in St Tropez on board the Jonikal, the Fayed family yacht. Diana had accepted Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed’s invitation and brought her sons, William and Harry, along. The elder Al-Fayed had then asked his son to come down from Paris – where he reportedly was with his then fiancée Kelly Fisher.
She returned to the Jonikal the next month with just Dodi. On 10 August, paparazzi photos of them kissing on board were published by the Sunday Mirror, with the headline “The Kiss: Now Dodi flies off to buy an engagement ring for Diana.” The paper reportedly paid £1 million for the photos.
Sophie Anderson, a UK-based writer, is your guide to the latest trends, viral sensations, and internet phenomena. With a finger on the pulse of digital culture, she explores what’s trending across social media and pop culture, keeping readers in the know about the latest online sensations.