The gates of Kensington Palace in London have once again become a shrine to Diana, the Princess of Wales, on the 20th anniversary of her death.
She died after the car she was travelling in crashed in the Tunnel de l’Alma in Paris on August 31st 1997.
On The Moncrieff Show this afternoon, Dr Frederic Mailliez, an off-duty doctor who happened upon the scene of the accident, spoke to Tom Dunne about his frantic attempt to keep Diana alive as he waited for the emergency services to arrive:
“It felt for me like a very long time because it is quite uncomfortable to be an emergency doctor with no equipment,” he said.
“I was off-duty that night and I was in front of four victims so it was very uncomfortable and it felt like a very, very long time waiting for the emergency ambulances.
“But I checked with the police investigators and the first ambulances arrived a few minutes after my call – it was quite fast.”
All Dr Mailliez had to work with was a respiratory bag that he kept with him at all times.
“I lifted up her head and I helped her breathing and she had more reaction after that - she was a little bit less unconscious,” he said.
“Someone behind me told me that the victims were English.
“So I began to speak English and I said ‘I am a doctor and I have called the ambulances, they are on their way, it shouldn’t be too long – you know I tried to comfort her in her last moments.”
A big shock
In the heat of the moment, Dr Mailliez never recognised who his patient was – adding that he only realised the next morning.
“That is very surprising to everybody but you know, when you are a doctor in front of four victims your attention is really focused on the medical situation - what you can do, what you have to do and I didn't care about who she was,” he said.
“I saw that she was a very pretty woman, a very sophisticated lady but I didn’t have the chance to recognise her.
“When I woke up before going to work, I turned on the TV and obviously on every channel there was this big story that Princess Diana died on the Tunnel de l'Alma and suddenly I discovered that the young pretty lady that I had in my hands that night was Princess Diana and that she died two hours later – a big shock yes.”
"Vivid in the hearts of the people"
Looking back twenty years later, Dr Mailliez knows he did everything he possibly could at the scene adding, “I couldn’t have done anything different.”
“It is still surprising to me that everybody remember that night, that tragic accident.
“Sometimes I go to the Place de l’Alma and I see the flame and there are still flowers in bottles and pictures and autographs and people writing in the stone little words about Princess Diana.
“It is still very vivid in the hearts of the people
“Even people under the age of 20 who never knew Princess Diana are still going to the Place de l’Alma and they are still moved by this tragic accident.”
Princess Diana was 36-years-old when she died in Paris.
Her sons Princes William and Harry have visited the floral tributes in London and thanked the crowds for their well-wishes.