A Timeline Of Princess Diana And Dodi Fayed's Short-Lived Romance

Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed are forever entwined in the public's memory. Following their fatal car crash in Paris, rumors were rife that the couple were engaged to be married. However, in reality, Diana and Fayed really weren't together long before their deaths.

As the Reader's Digest notes, Diana was still raw from her divorce from then-Prince Charles when they became romantically involved. The royal family had dumped her, stripping Diana of her "HRH" title and noble status, meaning protocol dictated she would — in theory — have to even curtsy to her own sons. Diana also lost travel privileges, most of her staff, and many of her charity engagements."

However, the most damaging was that "The Firm" removed her security detail. Given that she was, at the time, the most photographed woman in the world and hounded relentlessly by the paparazzi, it left Diana in a perilous situation, with photographers chasing her 24-7 and constantly invading her privacy. Not to mention the dangers of going out in public without police protection. Diana's turbulent and difficult post-divorce life is depicted in the first installment of Season 6 of "The Crown." Although it's obviously fictional, the series does offer great insight into the madness Diana was forced to endure on a daily basis as she was relentlessly hunted and harassed. It's safe to say Diana was going through an incredibly tough time when she started dating Fayed. So, rumors aside, what's the true story of their relationship?

The meeting

Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed met while she was married to then-Prince Charles. The Independent's obituary for Dodi notes it was at a polo match in 1986, eleven years before they became romantically involved. Dodi was a film producer with "Chariots of Fire" among movies he financed. However, he was plagued by lawsuits for unpaid bills and was at the financial mercy of his overbearing and controlling father, Mohamed Al-Fayed.

In many ways, Dodi was the opposite of Charles, who was cold and aloof towards Diana. According to The Mirror, Dodi had been incredibly close to his mother, Samira Khashoggi, and he was left devastated and heartbroken when she died alone in Cairo from a heart attack. "He was absolutely devoted to Samira, and there was hardly a day he didn't talk to her from wherever he was," Dodi's aunt, Soheir Khashoggi, shared, noting that the loss resulted in his "sensitive side" and respect for women.

Mohamed was desperate to be accepted by the aristocracy. Still, their disdain for "new money" and flashy foreigners meant he'd always remain an outsider, even if his son dated Diana. However, Mohamed's former spokesperson, Michael Cole, claimed to Deadline that the narrative shown in "The Crown," of Mohamed playing pushy matchmaker to Dodi and Diana, is false. Cole says that Diana and Dodi did meet for the second time on Mohamed's yacht while vacationing with her sons, but the romance was of their own volition.

The 'engagement'

In Season 6 of "The Crown," Dodi Fayed proposes to Diana, Princess of Wales, in his private suite at the Paris Ritz, just hours before their deaths. He presents Diana with a ring engraved with "Dis-Moi-Oui," which translates to "Tell me yes." However, Vanity Fair's Hollywood correspondent, Julie Miller, debunked the storyline in the podcast "Still Watching."

Miller notes that the ring only cost around $11,000, and given that Dodi splashed out $200,000 on his previous fiancée, Kelly Fisher, it's incredulous he'd downsize for Diana. "Mohamed was so focused on aligning himself publicly with the royal family, and he was very sort of garish in his displays of money," Miller explains. "The theory is if this was going to be Diana's ring and photographed by every media outlet in the world, he would never just present her with this approximately $11,000 ring."

Either way, although nobody will ever know what actually transpired in Diana's final hours, it's widely believed that she was definitely not in the mood for walking down the aisle again, especially with a man who had severe daddy issues and whom she'd only known for a matter of weeks. According to the Operation Paget investigation that was launched after Diana's death, sources close to her insisted that Diana repeatedly debunked the tabloid marriage rumors. "I need marriage like a rash on my face," she reportedly said, sharing that she wasn't serious with Dodi.

The crash

There are conflicting reports about the precise details of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed's fatal car crash. However, there are some verifiable facts. Per People, on August 30, 1997, Diana made what would be a final call to her sons, William, Prince of Wales, and Harry, Duke of Sussex. She and Dodi then dined at the Paris Ritz, where some allege he proposed.

The AP reports they had been hounded by paparazzi since arriving in Paris, and the pressure was wearing thin. At 10.08 p.m., Henri Paul, a Ritz security guard, arrived at the hotel. He spent two hours in the lobby and bar. Diana and Dodi finished dinner at 12.07 a.m. Due to the swarms of photographers outside, they decided to decamp to Dodi's Champs-Elysees apartment.

Two "decoy cars," one driven by Dodi's chauffeur, left from the hotel's main entrance, hoping to trick the paparazzi. Meanwhile, Dodi, Diana, and their bodyguard, Rees-Jones, escaped in a Mercedes driven by Paul. It quickly became apparent the decoy trick hadn't worked. So, with hordes of paps in hot pursuit, they sped up. At 12.25 a.m., the Mercedes entered the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, which has a speed limit of 30 mph; it's estimated they were traveling at 121 mph. Seconds later, the car hit a concrete pillar, flipped, and smashed into a wall. Paul and Dodi were killed instantly. Rees-Jones and Diana were rushed to the hospital. She was pronounced dead at 5:00 a.m. on August 31, 1997.

The aftermath

The aftershock of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed's fatal car crash was unprecedented. The world mourned, and thousands took to the streets in sorrow. Prime Minister Tony Blair eulogized Diana as "the people's princess," saying he was devastated by her death. "We are today a nation in a state of shock, in mourning, in grief that is so deeply painful for us," he said, per BBC.

Meanwhile, the royal family remained entrenched at their Scottish estate, Balmoral. After coming under fire for their seemingly cold and indifferent reaction to Diana's death, they returned to London. "I can remember just being struck by the huge banks of flowers, the huge numbers of people, and almost total silence," the queen's aide, Mary Francis, told Newsweek. "A very, almost threatening combination."

Few who watched Diana's funeral procession can forget the heartbreaking footage of William, Prince of Wales, and Harry, Duke of Sussex, mournfully walking behind their mother's coffin on its journey to Westminster Abbey. An estimated 32 million Brits watched from home and 2 billion worldwide. Dodi's death mainly went unmarked, with the royals not even mentioning his name. Mohamed Al-Fayed's grief soon turned to fury and conspiracies. He claimed Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, ordered a hit on Diana and Dodi to stop her from marrying a Muslim, according to The Sun. "He will never get over the death of his son, or that of the Princess — because of the love he had for both," a source said.