YOU wanna know about conspiracy theories?
Here's one from a Diana conspiracy website that took my fancy: "The french proffesionals seemed to have their hands in it all the way. Also, usually those who point fingers and put blame . . . are ususally the ones that know the truth and are at fault. So . . . why embolming of Diana? Was it really her? Was Dodi and his father in on all of this to take Diana and make her a musleum? Was she willing? Was she that depressed and that tired of life . . . and that niave? Did she get on that ship on her last days to say goodbye to her children? Do they know something that they aren't telling? I believe that their were people that played the parts of Diana and Dodi . . . and was there total proof that they were the dead ones in the car that night?"
Sadly, for that message-poster, Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington (no, that's not a conspiracy - it's a place), ex-Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who has spent three years investigating Princess Diana's death, sees nothing suspicious about the 'proffesionals', the 'embolming' or the 'niavete', and doesn't even think Dodi and his dad wanted to make Diana a 'musleum'. Rather, he and his 12 officers have come to the conclusion spelled out in 832 pages at an expense to the British taxpayer of £3.6m that a) there was no conspiracy to murder Diana, b) it was an accident, c) Henri Paul, the driver, was drunk, d) he drove too fast because they were being chased by paparazzi, e) they weren't wearing seat belts, f) Diana was not pregnant, and g) she did not want to marry Dodi Fayed.
Among the diverting revelations along the way is that at one particularly paranoid moment Diana believed that Prince Charles intended to have both her and Camilla murdered in order to clear the way for him to marry his children's nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke.
But if Diana was barking at times, she was sanity itself compared to Mohamed Al Fayed, proprietor of Harrods. His view is that Stevens is "a mental case" and "a tool for the royal family and the establishment", the police are "gangsters", and the report is "garbage". As he wrote (well, as was written under his name) in the Daily Express, AKA the Daily Diana, on Friday, "If Diana and Dodi had wed, and if they had had children, Britain would have had, in effect, an alternate royal family. The attractive, personable Fayeds. Or the charmless German Windsors. It was not a situation MI6, with its obsession about militant Islam, could tolerate."
Diana had a bit of a penchant for Middle Eastern men. The person she really wanted to marry was Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon who worked in London, but he wanted to keep a low profile and the relationship foundered. In truth, the establishment would have been delighted had she settled down with such a respectable person, and even more so had she emigrated to Pakistan, but Fayed and many Muslims are convinced otherwise.
A poll this year showed that 36 per cent of British Muslims believed Diana was murdered to stop her from marrying a Muslim. Of those, quite a few had such a slender grasp of matters constitutional that they thought that any child of Diana's would be in line for the throne, which, no doubt, was why Prince Philip, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and MI6 were hell-bent on her assassination.
Fayed is a social climber whose headiest moment was when Diana decided to toy with his son while away a few summer weeks. His most terrible moment was when he learned that stupid decisions made by himself, Diana, and Dodi, had led to the Paris tragedy. It was Diana who had got rid of her police bodyguards; it was Dodi who overrode the advice of the Harrods security people and insisted on being driven by Henri Paul rather than the sober chauffeurs waiting to do the job; and it was his father who endorsed his decision. For almost 10 years, Fayed has been screaming wild accusations to blank out the truth.
Stevens's patient work will, of course, have no effect on the conspiracy theorists, who are still out there blaming Elvis for murdering John F Kennedy so he could take Marilyn Monroe to Mars, where they were later joined by Diana and Dodi, who had also faked their own deaths, and now have a brood of heirs to the British throne, and will descend along with an alien army when the moment is right. The internet demonstrates depressingly that the world is full of loonies.
Having said that, not all conspiracy theorists are mad. Last Friday I was discussing the report with a highly intelligent Afghani who talks sense on most topics but who really cannot get to grip with the cock-up theory of history. "Maybe I've seen too many movies," he said, "but I still think there's an 80 per cent chance the deaths of Diana and Dodi weren't accidental."
"Prince Philip?" I sighed, "Or Charles?"
"No," he said. "Fayed."
"Huh?" I said. "Fayed killed his son?"
"Yes," he said. "He's power mad and he loves attention, and how better to get it that to engineer that crash. If it hadn't been for that, who would take any notice of him."
"Samir," I said, "that's so original and brilliant, I'll put it in my article. I think it qualifies as the conspiracy theorist's conspiracy theory."
"I am loved by the British people, who support me," says Mohamed Al Fayed. "This royal family will disappear. It is not an imperial power any more. Look at the suffering people of this country who pay taxes and blood. They don't want to sponsor a wanker family like that."
Actually, the royal family's reaction to the ravings of Fayed have gone down rather well with the public. They have made no comment, and have failed to have MI6 murder him in a tunnel. But they did cease shopping at Harrods. Now that hurt.