Princess Diana And Dodi Fayed's Relationship Timeline Explained

The 1990s were a tumultuous time for the royal family, with the late Queen Elizabeth II calling 1992 her "annus horribilis," Latin for "horrible year," per Vanity Fair. That year, the marriages of three of the queen's four children fell apart. There was extensive media coverage, particularly of the breakdown and affairs of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. By December 1995, The New York Times reported that Buckingham Palace made an official announcement that the queen recommended the couple divorce.

Even before a divorce agreement was reached in July 1996 (via The New York Times), Diana began dating Dr. Hasnat Khan. According to Vogue, the relationship lasted two years, with Diana calling Khan "Mr. Wonderful." While some have referred to Khan as Diana's one true love, by the summer of 1997, the heart surgeon didn't see a future. "If I married her, our marriage would not last for more than a year," Khan explained, per The Telegraph. "We are culturally so different from each other. She is from Venus and I am from Mars."

After Diana's tragic death in 1997, her friend Rosa Monckton revealed that Diana was heartbroken by Khan's decision. "She was very much in love with him. She hoped that they would be able to have a future together," Monckton said during the inquest (via The Telegraph), "She wanted to marry him." Even so, as Diana's romance with Khan was unraveling, a wealthy jet-setter caught the princess' eye.

Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed enjoyed a summer romance

Unlike Dr. Hasnat Khan, who was extremely private, The Independent notes that Dodi Fayed sought a life in the spotlight. "Dodi had all the money in the world, but he wanted fame," said his friend, writer Jack Martin. The "millionaire playboy" first met Princess Diana in 1986 when his team played against Prince Charles' team in a polo match. However, their romance began 11 years later.

According to People, in the summer of 1997, Diana was invited to vacation at a St. Tropez house belonging to Fayed's father, wealthy businessman Mohamed Al Fayed. His son also happened to be visiting. It didn't take long for Fayed and Princess Diana to start dating.

Vanity Fair notes that this July meeting of Fayed and Diana was actually due to his father telling him to come to the yacht. At the time, Fayed was engaged to Kelly Fisher, an American model, and Fisher had hopes of an August 9 wedding. However, after an August 10 photo of Fayed and Diana was published in the Sunday Mirror, Fisher returned to the U.S. and sued her former fiancé for breach of contract.

After St. Tropez, the new couple sailed the Mediterranean on Al Fayed's yacht. On August 30, the princess and Fayed journeyed to Paris, per Today. Hours later, both Diana and Fayed were killed following the tragic car crash in Paris' Pont de L'Alma tunnel.

Was Dodi Fayed planning to propose to Diana?

A few weeks before the fatal car accident, Dr. Hasnat Khan and Princess Diana met at London's Battersea Park. In a 2004 statement to Metropolitan Police, Khan described Diana as "not her normal self" and suspected she was involved in a relationship, although Diana dismissed this idea. "I was surprised when she said there was no-one else," Khan recalled, per BBC. "At a second meeting, she said it was all over between us, but she denied there was anyone else."

Around August 20, Diana and Dodi Fayed visited a Monaco jeweler. As reported by The Washington Post, in five minutes, the couple selected a diamond ring they had seen in a magazine ad. Designed as an engagement ring, the over $200,000 piece featured a central emerald-cut diamond along with four triangular diamonds. After getting it resized, Fayed picked it up in Paris on the evening on August 30.

Express notes that Fayed had previously given Diana a ring that she wore on her right hand, signaling it wasn't associated with engagement. After he picked up the diamond ring, it remained in his hotel room, a tragic detail about the night of Princess Diana's death, so it's unknown if he would have popped the question.

Close confidants didn't believe Diana would marry Dodi Fayed

Even if Dodi Fayed had proposed to Princess Diana, it appears doubtful that Diana would have agreed to marriage. According to the princess' former butler, Paul Burrell, when Fayed previously gave Diana a ring, she wasn't interested in getting engaged. "This was only a 30-day relationship," Burrell told The Telegraph. As a close confidant, Burrell advised the princess, "Put it on the fourth finger of your right hand and immediately he will see that it is a friendship ring, not an engagement ring, and that's when she said, 'I need marriage like a rash.'"

Royal biographer Judy Wade agrees that Diana and Fayed's relationship was destined to be short term. "Perhaps Diana wanted to be photographed frolicking with Dodi to make Hasnat pay for their recent rows," Wade told People. "A close friend doubted that Dodi had replaced Hasnat [in Diana's affections] and was sure Diana and Hasnat would get back together in September."

Royal author Tina Brown notes that multiple sources claimed Diana never planned to marry Fayed, but was instead hoping to irritate both Charles and the Royal Family with the relationship (via Time). In addition, stories about Fayed's flashy lifestyle, including affairs, debts, and drug use had also reached Diana's ears. "I think Dodi was a step too far for Diana," a royal photographer told People. "I think Diana enjoyed the excitement, but I don't think she could have coped with that [long term]."