Princess Diana’s death had to be ‘decoded’ by the BBC when it received word from French officials.

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Princess Diana’s death had to be ‘decoded’ by the BBC when it received word from French officials.

A FORMER BBC journalist who was reporting from Paris the night Princess Diana died claimed he had to “decode” reports of the princess’s condition from French authorities.

Tomorrow is the 24th anniversary of the Princess of Wales’ death, at the age of 36, in a Paris vehicle accident.

Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were being transported home from a dinner when their driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed at the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. To commemorate the anniversary, the princess’ statue, which was commissioned and unveiled by her sons Prince William and Prince Harry last month, will be open to the public from 3pm to 5pm tomorrow.

Despite the fact that the statue, which is located on the Cradle Walk of Kensington Gardens, is normally only open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday owing to the pandemic, well-wishers will be permitted to visit it.

Diana’s death sparked an outpouring of grief around the world, with some estimates claiming that 2.5 billion people watched her funeral.

Kevin Connolly, a former BBC Paris correspondent who was one of the first journalists on the scene the night of the accident, stated he had to “decode” news from the French authorities on the Princess’ condition.

“People were being quite cautious,” Mr Connolly told this website.

“It took a long time for me to realize Diana had died.

“[We] were carefully listening to the French authorities and attempting to decipher what they were saying.

“The cops were being extremely cautious about the stories they were releasing.

“At first, police and hospital sources said, ‘Yes, it’s the Princess of Wales,’ and ‘Yes, she’s been injured,’ but there’s no way to know in the wee hours of the morning if she’s been mortally harmed.’

“In retrospect, I believe the French authorities were terrified to have to deal with this.

“They were well aware of the global size of the reaction, as well as the global intensity of interest.”

News of Diana’s death was only leaked through to Paris via reporters aboard Foreign Secretary Robin Cook’s flight in the Philippines, according to Mr Connolly and other Reuters and Sky reporters on the scene.

Mr Cook, who died in 2005, never verified how the Princess of Wales’ death was announced.

“[It was] a really stressful evening, extremely cautious,” Mr Connolly added.

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