The Queen’s initial reaction to news of Princess Diana’s car crash was that ‘someone must have greased the brakes’, it has been claimed.
Diana was killed in August 1997, along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, when the car they were travelling in crashed in Paris.
As news of the accident reached the Royal Family, before it was realised Diana had died, Her Majesty reportedly issued the remark.
The claims were made in Ingrid Seward’s new book, ‘An Intimate Portrait of the Queen in Her Own Words’.
The Royal biographer said the comment hinted at the ‘extraordinary and complex’ relationship between the two women.
Writing in the Daily Mail, she said: “At first it was thought that, though the car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel was serious, Diana had not been killed.’
“According to one witness present when the Queen heard the initial news, she mused out loud: ‘Someone must have greased the brakes’.”
Diana’s untimely death triggered national mourning, and the Queen faced some initial criticism from the public for not leaving her holiday retreat at Balmoral and returning to London immediately.
There was also consternation over the refusal to fly a flag at half mast from Buckingham Palace.
Ms Seward wrote that the Queen was ‘bewildered’ by these criticisms, as the flag not being flown while she was not in residence was ‘mere protocols.
- She claimed the decision to stay in Scotland was made so the young princes William and Harry were given the chance to ‘absorb the shock of their mother’s death’ in private.
The Royal expert added: “Her first priority was to protect them.”
Her book also claims the Queen was initially very fond of the young Diana Spencer, writing to a friend that: “She is one of us.”
But Ms Seward said that, as the princess became nervous and the Queen’s concerns about the increased press attention grew, their relationship turned cold.
She said the relationship was ‘brought into sharp relief’ by the publication earlier this week of new behind-the-scenes photographs of Diana’s wedding to Charles in 1981.
She added: “Despite the joyous occasion, there is little evident warmth between the two women or even a flicker of happiness on either face — a glimpse, perhaps, of their underlying anxieties and the great emotional gulf between two such differing personalities.
Ms Seward previously disclosed the Queen’s reaction to the crash in an earlier book, ‘The Queen and Di’, published in 2000.