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A journalist who reported from Paris on the night the Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash has told how he had to "decode" the details of her condition from the French authorities.

Diana was 36 when she died on August 31, 1997 – 24 years ago today – in a fatal accident in a Paris tunnel.

Kevin Connolly, who was one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene after the accident, said it dawned on him only "quite slowly" that Diana had been killed, and it was hard to get firm information from the authorities about what had happened.

News of the incident originally came from the other side of the world, via reporters who were on a flight with then-Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in the Philippines.

Former BBC man Kevin told the Daily Express: "[We were] very cautiously listening to the French authorities and trying to decode what they were telling us.

"The police were being very careful about the stories they released."

He added: "The initial word from police and hospital sources were 'Yes, it's the Princess of Wales, yes, she has been injured,' but there's no sense at the small hours of the morning that she was perhaps fatally injured."

Kevin said he now thought the police were "horrified" at having to deal with such a big tragedy.

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He said: "They were aware of the global scale of what will be the reaction – they were aware of the global intensity of interest."

Questions swirled around the handling of the initial investigation for years, and it was only seven years after the crash that Met police commissioner Sir John Stevens was asked to investigate several of the key issues from that fateful night.

Kevin said: "The night is a blur until that moment when the pips go at the start of a special programme and you are the person who has to say that the Princess of Wales has died.

"That single moment is probably the one I remember best from my whole very long life in broadcasting."

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  • Princess Diana
  • BBC

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