Mohamed Fayed appeared convinced that the crash that killed his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales was “a plot or assassination” from the moment he heard about it, the inquest into their deaths has been told.
When Franz Klein, the president of the Ritz hotel in Paris, broke the news of the accident to Mr Fayed, the Harrods owner replied: “I know more than you know, more than you think.”
Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Klein also claimed that Dodi told him during the summer of 1997 of his plans to marry the princess.
He said that Dodi spoke to him of plans for the couple to settle in Paris at Villa Windsor, where Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson lived in exile after his abdication.
He told the inquest, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, that Dodi had chosen an engagement ring from the Repossi jewellers’ “Dis-moi oui” (Tell me Yes) range shortly before the crash in the early hours of Aug 31, 1997.
Breaking down in tears, Mr Klein, known as Frank, described how he called Mr Fayed in London, about 20 minutes after the accident had happened, to relay the news.
He recalled: “I said, ‘Mr Fayed, very sorry to disturb you, there has been a terrible accident… Dodi passed away and the driver’ and Mr Fayed said, ‘Sorry’.”
He went on: “Mr Fayed said, ‘What about the princess?’ and I said, ‘The information I have is she’s alive’ – the only thing I knew – and I said ‘an accident’, that I said definitely.
“Mr Fayed, very calm, said to me, ‘Frank, this is not an accident, this is a plot or an assassination’.
“I said, ‘You cannot say that, it’s an accident’ and he said, ‘Frank, I know more than you know, more than you think’.
“Then I think the conversation was over.”
Mr Klein said he received a call from Dodi around Aug 18 or 19 telling him that the pair were going to be in Paris at the end of the month.
“I remember very well, he called me and he said, ‘Frank I just passed by a jewellers’ shop’,” said Mr Klein.
He said Dodi then told him: “I want to buy some jewellery, I’m going to get engaged.”
Mr Klein told of a second conversation, around Aug 29, when the Villa Windsor -which Mr Fayed rented from the French government – was mentioned. “He informed me he was going to Paris the following day,” Mr Klein said.
“He did not mention the princess by name but he did tell me that he was going to stay in Paris, to live, he told me he was going to move to the Villa Windsor with his girlfriend and he told me, all the time in English, that they were going to get married.”
Mr Fayed, who was sitting only a few yards from Mr Klein as he gave evidence, claims that the couple were assassinated on the orders of Prince Philip to prevent them marrying because the Royal Family was not prepared for a Muslim to become stepfather to the future king, Prince William.