Conspiracy Corner – The Resurrection of Diana (conspiracy theories)

Every Thursday, about 8:15am, Matthew talks with Zac on 95bFM’s “Breakfast Show” about conspiracy theories.

So, I was a bit hungover when we recorded today’s show and thus I dillied when I should have dallied and I over explained when I should have been succinct. The moral here is never mix whiskies from three regions (a lesson, dear reader, I hope you learn because I’m obviously incapable of self-improvement).

This week’s topic was the startling new information about the death of Princess Diana on the 31st of August, 1997. Astute readers of this blog will know that on that particular night, Diana and company were involved in a car crash in Paris, which has largely been written off (excuse the pun) as a tragic accident. This hasn’t stopped the family of some of the deceased, notably Dodi Fayed’s father and Henri Paul’s mother, speculating (or, rather, asserting) that there was some Establishment conspiracy to kill Diana and her retinue.

Enter Soldier N (not his real name) and the tale of the prosecution of Danny Nightingale.

Soldier N was a prosecution witness in the court martial of SAS sniper Danny Nightingale.

Two years ago, the parents of Soldier N’s estranged wife wrote to his commanding officer and in the letter they mentioned that Soldier N had told his estranged wife that the SAS had arranged Diana’s death and that this had been covered up.

So, the first issue we need to confront is that this is reported speech: it’s a situation where they said she said that he said. As such, to assess the credibility of the claim we need to assume that the parents were being sincere and honest in their reporting to the commanding officer and that their daughter was sincere and honest in her reporting to them and that Soldier N was sincere and honest when he asserted the SAS organised Diana’s death. There’s a lot of room in the transmission of that claim for invention, inflation or even misinterpretation.

For example, someone might be lying. Solider N might have threatened his estranged wife (in the vague hope of saving their marriage; people do irrational things like this) with the falsehood that “We killed Diana, so don’t mess with me!”

Or, Soldier N might have heard some piece of hearsay and asserted it as true.

Or, Solider N might have suggested that the SAS killed Diana and the estranged wife read that as the claim they definitely did kill Diana.

Or the estranged wife made up the claim to impress upon her parents just how bad Soldier N was.

The list could go on.

This is not to say that the claim is, in fact, false. It may very well be true and, if so, would overturn the accepted story that Diana died in a car accident. It would show that either the investigation into Diana’s death was slipshod and inadequate at best or a deliberate cover-up by the Establishment.

Wherein lies the problem. The people assessing the alleged new evidence for relevance and credibility are the people the conspiracy theorists claim are responsible for the cover up. As such, any attempt to debunk the new information will be seen as disinformation. Even this blogpost/segment will be interpreted in that light (although as a lapsed Papist, I have no attachment or sympathy towards the British Crown at all). This is not an irrational move on the part of such conspiracy theorists: if there really is a conspiracy in operation, it’s not unreasonable to assume that they might be actively suppressing evidence of their existence.

But, in the Diana case, there is the question of “Why?” Why kill her? The standard answer seems to be something along the lines of “She was pregnant and would have given birth to a Muslim baby who would then be part of the Windsor family, thus threatening the Royals.” Yet this seems like a fairly strange answer. The Royals are rich but only sovereign in a titular sense (although Prince Charles and his political vetoes seem to challenging that construal at the moment). Even if the Windsor family is powerful, a son or daughter of Diana wouldn’t be much of threat to the Windsor dynasty. It’s not as if they would be fourth in line to the throne.

Which is why I find the Diana conspiracy theories so… Hard to understand. I’m really not sure what the motivation of the alleged conspirators is meant to be. (Feel free to inform me in the comments) As such, I’m not sure why a state-level conspiracy to kill Diana would ever have been launched because it seems like a costly affair which achieves little. Indeed, the last word on this really belongs to the writers of this “Mitchell and Webb Look” sketch:

Note: Last week I talked about Kiri Campbell and the Freeman Movement. I wasn’t hungover but I still managed to mangle the discussion (in part because explaining the nature of Freeman arguments is difficult at the best of times and fitting that into an eight minute slot proved to insurmountable). As such, I was loath to headline that discussion on the blog. Instead, I’ve “hidden” it here.

About Matthew Dentith

Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.
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