Princess Diana 'was meant to be in UK on night she died' in Paris

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·Royal Correspondent
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Princess Diana was meant to be back in the UK on the night she died in Paris, according to a former driver for the late royal.

Colin Tebbutt, Diana's former driver and minder, has revealed she delayed a return to London at the end of August 1997 because of the fallout of her call for a ban on landmines.

The princess, who was 36 when she died, had begun campaigning for the war weapon to be outlawed months before, but her work had been met with anger by some Conservative MPs who said she was a "loose cannon".

In August 1997, she had carried out an interview with Le Monde about the subject in which she appeared to criticise John Major's government and expressed her hope that things would be better with Tony Blair, who had just come to power.

Tebbutt told the Daily Mail: "She didn't come back on the Thursday as scheduled because the Tories were having a go at her again over landmines. She was accused of using the campaign to boost her own image, which was nasty and upset her. 

"So she contacted us and said she didn't want all the hassle that would be waiting for her in the UK. She would return at the weekend instead.

"If she had come back that Thursday... maybe we'd all be alive still today."

PA NEWS : 15/1/97 : DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES, WEARS A PROTECTIVE MASK AND JACKET AS SHE STANDS NEXT TO A WARNING SIGN ON THE EDGE OF A MINEFIELD IN ANGOLA, DURING HER VISIT TO SEE THE WORK OF THE BRITISH RED CROSS. (PHOTO BY JOHN STILLWELL ). Clare Short, struck a similar pose when she stood in the midst of a mock-up mine field on Brighton Beach as part of the Government's heightened campaign to ban landmines which was announced during the Labour Party Conference. See PA story LABOUR Landmines.   The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which came to prominence following the Princess's death, and campaign coordinator Jody Williams were awarded the Nobel Peace prize on 10/10/97. See PA story NOBEL Mines.   Photo by John Stillwell/PA  The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, called on the US and British governments to halt the use of cluster bombing in Afghanistan. The fund's chief executive, Andrew Purkis, warned that the weapons, recently deployed against Taliban forces on the front line with the Northern Alliance, represented a serious long-term threat to civilians, similar to that posed by landmines.   (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Diana in Angola in January 1997 while campaigning on landmines. (John Stillwell – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, visits a working de-mining field with the HALO Trust in Dirico Province, Angola, September 27, 2019. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS
Harry visiting a working de-mining field with the HALO Trust in Dirico Province, Angola, in September 2019. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via Reuters)

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Diana had been in France with her new boyfriend Dodi Fayed, the son of Harrods owner Mohammed al Fayed. He was also killed in the crash, as was driver Henri Paul.

Their bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was seriously injured but survived the crash.

Tebbutt said he had been preparing to pick up the princess on 28 August but she rearranged her plans.

Diana would have turned 60 on 1 July. A statue will be unveiled in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace in her honour by her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Meghan, Harry's wife, will not be able to attend as she only recently gave birth to their daughter Lilibet Diana on 4 June. 

An inquest into Diana's death in 2008 resulted in the verdict that she had been unlawfully killed because of "grossly negligent driving of the following vehicles [the paparazzi] and of the Mercedes driver Henri Paul".

William and Harry said they agreed with the verdicts and that they were grateful.

Harry has followed in his mother's footsteps in recent years, visiting an area plagued by landmines during his 2019 tour in southern Africa.

He also condemned an attack on a group of Halo Trust volunteers working to rid an area in Afghanistan of mines, which left 10 people dead and 16 injured.

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