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Dodi planned to marry diana { February 7 1998 }

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New book says Diana, Dodi planned to marry
Says doomed Mercedes collided with Fiat before entering tunnel
February 7, 1998

Web posted at: 4:50 p.m. EST (2150 GMT)
(CNN) -- Britain's Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed had decided to marry in the fall of 1997, a plan tragically thwarted by the August car crash that took their lives, according to a new book.

The book, "Death of a Princess," was written by Time magazine correspondents Tom Sancton and Scott MacLeod and is based on dozens of new interviews, including conversations with Mohammed al-Fayed, Dodi Fayed's father, who until now has been largely silent about the deaths.

The book will be the subject of CNN's "Impact" newsmagazine on Sunday at 10 p.m. EST. The program also will feature an interview with al-Fayed.

"I think they're living in heaven, I'm sure. In peace, with no paparazzi and no problems," al-Fayed says in the interview.

According to the book, which is also being excerpted in Time magazine, Dodi Fayed was insistent that he and Diana return to his Paris apartment on the night of the accident because he was going to formally propose marriage to her.

He had instructed his butler to put champagne on ice and had an engagement ring in the apartment that he and Diana had picked out together eight days earlier, the book says.

In "Death of a Princess," Sancton and MacLeod also cast new light on the crash that killed Fayed and Diana.

According to an independent investigation by a French traffic engineer conducted for the book, the Mercedes carrying the couple, driven by Henri Paul, collided with a still-unidentified white Fiat Uno before it got inside the traffic tunnel where the accident occurred.

The Mercedes hit the Uno as it was overtaking the smaller car, while traveling 75 to 100 miles per hour (120 to 160 km/h.) It then began braking, went into a skid and hit a pillar in the tunnel while going about 60 mph (96 km/h), the investigator concluded.

Paul also died in the crash. The sole survivor was bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones.

The book also offers other revelations about the tragedy:

Under French emergency medical protocols, Diana was treated at the scene and didn't get to an operating room for an hour and 40 minutes, raising questions about whether the princess might have survived if she had gotten to the hospital sooner.

Before the crash, Paul had two drinks at the Ritz Hotel in full view of Dodi Fayed's two bodyguards. One told police he thought Paul was drinking pineapple juice, but the drink was actually a liqueur called Ricard, mixed with water.

Tests after the crash showed Paul was legally drunk at the time of the crash, which investigators say likely contributed to the accident.

Al-Fayed says he has not ruled out a conspiracy as being the cause of the crash. And during a conversation with "Impact," he showed cufflinks belonging to Diana's late father, the Earl Spencer, which he says she gave to Dodi Fayed on their final day together as a sign that they would be together "forever."

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