On the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, one of the French firefighters who responded to the scene of the car collision recalled the royal’s final words in an interview with The Sun.
When Xavier Gourmelon pulled the 36-year-old from the wreckage in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel on August 30 1997, she was still conscious and had her eyes open.
“I held her hand and told her to be calm and keep still, I said I was there to help and reassured her,” he tells The Sun.
“She said, ‘My God, what’s happened?’”
Gourmelon recalls Diana being on the floor at the back of the Mercedes, though he didn’t realise it was her at the time.
She was moving “very slightly” and didn’t appear to be seriously hurt.
“I could see she had a slight injury to her right shoulder but, other than that, there was nothing significant,” he says.
“There was no blood on her at all.”
However, moments after the team lifted the princess from the car and onto a stretcher, she went into cardiac arrest.
Gourmelon massaged her heart and she started breathing again, leading him to believe she would survive.
“As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live,” he recalls.
“But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting.”
While Diana died in hospital from extensive internal injuries, her lover Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul were both pronounced dead at the scene.
The only survivor of the crash was the pair’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones.
“I had no idea then that it was Princess Diana,” Gourmelon says.
“It was only when she had been put into the ambulance that one of the paramedics told me it was her.”
Two decades on, the scene in the tunnel is one the former firefighter will never forget.
“The memory of that night will stay with me forever … I can still picture it now in my mind,” he tells The Sun.
This week, floral tributes and cards have been placed along the tunnel and nearby Pont de l’Alma bridge to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death.