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Conspiracy theorists relentlessly seeking sinister reasons behind the death in a Paris car crash eight years ago of Lady Diana, wife of Prince Charles, have now alighted, however improbably, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A front-page story in Britain's Sunday Express newspaper claims that the princess was murdered by British and French secret service agents because it was "feared she was about to give her public support to the Palestinians."
Such a declaration of support from so popular and influential a figure, the secret service agencies are said to have feared, "would outrage Israel and spark a Middle East crisis."
Official investigations into Diana's death, in a highspeed car crash in Paris in the summer of 1997, have ruled out foul play. Another investigation, ordered in January 2004 by Britain's royal coroner, is expected to reach the same conclusion. Indeed the very same newspaper that carried this sensationalist allegation surrounding the death of the princess also notes that the senior British investigators engaged in the new inquiry "strongly believe Diana was the victim of an accident."
Nonetheless, the Sunday Express, doubtless expecting the circulation boost that page one Diana stories, however far-fetched, tend to deliver even all these years after her death, enthusiastically highlights the allegation under the headline, "Diana: Was she murdered over Palestine link?" The claim, it says, is fully detailed in a book due out early next year, called Cover Up, by journalist-author Nicholas Davies.
Quite what Lady Di was purportedly set to say about the Palestinians is not spelled out in the newspaper. Beyond the assertion of imminent "public support' for their cause, it says only that "governments were faced with a real possibility that Diana's intervention into the political maelstrom of the Middle East and the intractable Israeli-Palestinian quagmire might well create a new crisis." Since "no one could predict where that might lead," the newspaper continues, "she had to be stopped."
The British authorities have long since stopped commenting officially on the ever-flowing stream of Lady Di conspiracy theories, and this one is no exception.