An inquest has just opened in London for the purpose of examining the death of Diana Princess of Wales in a car crash in Paris no less than ten years ago. The French authorities and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg have already determined on the evidence that the crash was the result of wild and drunken driving by the chauffeur. Lord Justice Scott Baker in charge of the inquest opened proceedings by saying that many members of the public are concerned that something sinister may have caused the collision, and suspicion is now to be “either dispelled or substantiated.”
The holding of this inquest so long after the event, and the Lord Justice’s remarks, are an amazing tribute to Mohamed Fayed. His son Dodi died in the car with Diana. Rumor has it that Diana and Dodi were in a relationship, to use that euphemism. Fayed has since maintained that Diana was pregnant and about to marry Dodi. In his view, the crash was “murder in the furtherance of a conspiracy by the Establishment, in particular His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who used the secret services to carry it out.” And the motive? Supposedly it was intolerable that the mother of the future King of England might be married to a Muslim. Fayed uses his position as owner of Harrods, the famous London store, to publicize these accusations as loudly and as often as he can.
There is no record of British secret services murdering anyone anywhere at any time. Brigadier Mason-Macfarlane was British military attaché in Berlin before the war, and in a memorandum in 1938 he offered to shoot Hitler. Horrified superiors had him transferred at once to be governor of Gibraltar. Michael Grant, a wartime intelligence officer and afterwards vice-chancellor of Belfast university, once told me how early in the war he had had a hand in recruiting a Military Intelligence team of assassins. The authorities were then so frightened by the men they had trained that they kept them enclosed in a country house in Worcestershire for the rest of the war, and disbanded them as quickly as they could. The concept of the Duke of Edinburgh using the secret services for anything, never mind murder, is so far out as to be rather comic.
But that is how they do things in Egypt, the country in which Mohamed Fayed was born and grew up. Those with the power to do it may well murder whoever gets in the way. Prominent victims of past power struggles have included Hasan al-Banna, head of the Muslim Brothers, and Prime Minister Noqrashi Pasha. President Nasser almost certainly had his friend and rival Field Marshal Amer murdered, and he ensured the judicial execution of the Muslim thinker Sayyid Qutb. Islamists murdered the free-thinker Faraj Fuda, and the secret police cause Islamists to disappear regularly.
Mohamed Fayed’s conspiracy theory is a revealing illustration of how someone can misinterpret British culture in the light of his very own different culture. His vision of the world sounds demented but it’s conditioned by what’s familiar to him. In their culture, what the British actually do is set up inquests and Lord Justices to deal with issues through due procedure, something unknown in Egypt.
Nobody has a clue what – if anything – Diana and Dodi felt for one another, but if the two of them had settled down together the whole Establishment would have gasped with relief at an example of a Muslim at last integrating, and at the top of society too. Fayed’s insistence that the mother of the future King couldn’t be allowed to marry a Muslim is evidence of the victim complex that runs through Islam – the poor man is simply not equipped to understand the British.