Essay Re Nothing

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PARIS, Sept. 5 — On the last day of their lives, Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed were hounded and pursued by photographers across Paris, from the time their plane landed in mid-afternoon until their deaths nine hours later, according to accounts provided today by Fayed's spokesman and the Ritz Hotel here.

Mohamed Fayed, Dodi's father and the Ritz's owner, released a hotel security videotape and Ritz officials offered a verbal chronology of Diana and Fayed's last hours, contending that their deaths in the crash of a speeding Mercedes-Benz were caused not by the recklessness of a drunk driver employed by the Ritz, but by the paparazzi who pursued them.

In a London news conference, the Fayed family spokesman also pictured Diana and Fayed as deeply in love and committed to each other after a summer of romance. He confirmed that Fayed had given Diana a $200,000 diamond solitaire ring hours before she died, and said gifts from Diana to Fayed had been found among his effects.

"What that ring meant we shall probably never know," said spokesman Michael Cole. "If the planet lasts for another thousand years, people will still wonder about its significance."

Millionaire businessman Dodi Al Fayed gets into a Mercedes limousine Aug. 30 upon arriving from Sardinia, with driver Henry Paul. Big Pictures Agency, NYC/Reuters
French authorities say the Ritz's driver, Henri Paul, was legally drunk when the Mercedes S-280 sedan he was driving at a speed of at least 90 miles an hour slammed into a piling in a highway tunnel along the Seine River just after midnight Sunday morning, killing Diana, Fayed and himself and leaving a bodyguard hospitalized with severe injuries.

But Mohamed Fayed told a meeting of all Ritz employees Thursday that Paul was not drunk and that reports that he was were "scandalous." Paul's funeral, planned for Saturday in his home town of Lorient, was postponed today. His family said that it had requested that tests on his blood to determine the...
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