Perhaps the most startling revelation in The Diana Investigations, a four-part Discovery+ docuseries chronicling the British and French inquiries into the death of Princess Diana, concerns the “Mishcon Note.”
On Oct. 30, 1995, Victor Mishcon, the personal legal representative to Princess Diana, attended a closed-door meeting with his most famous client and her personal secretary, Patrick Jephson. During the rendezvous, Diana told Mishcon that “reliable sources,” whom she would not disclose, had informed her that by April 1996, efforts would be made to either “get rid of her”—or injure her to the point where she would be deemed “unbalanced”—in a car accident via brake failure or other means. Mishcon prepared a contemporaneous note of the meeting.
Less than two years later, on Aug. 31, 1997, Diana—along with her partner Dodi Al-Fayed and driver Henri Paul—would die in a car crash in Paris’ Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Paul, who was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs, slammed their Mercedes into a pillar going 65 mph, more than twice the speed limit, while evading hordes of paparazzi trailing them on motorbikes. It wasn’t until Jan. 6, 2004, that an inquiry into Princess Diana’s death was launched by the British Metropolitan Police. Headed by then-Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens, it was named Operation Paget. Its findings, totaling 832 pages, were revealed in December 2006.
“The most important thing about that report, and the wait-a-minute moment, light shining through the darkness suddenly, was the Mishcon Note,” Michael Mansfield, an attorney who represented Mohamed Al-Fayed, the billionaire father of Dodi, says in the docuseries. “The note had been put in a safe at the New Scotland Yard.”
EXCLUSIVE: The ‘Mishcon Note’ Scene in ‘The Diana Investigations’:
In the wake of the fatal crash, on Sept. 18, 1997, Mishcon handed the note over to Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police commissioner. It was then placed in the aforementioned safe.
“The letter was given by Lord Mishcon to my predecessor, Paul Condon, and he put it in his safe,” Lord Stevens, who headed the Diana death inquiry, tells me. “I was only made aware of that when I was made commissioner myself… and I had been made aware that Lord Mishcon had said he hadn’t actually attached much importance to it.
“However,” he continues. “when the coroner announced his inquest, I made sure that letter was immediately given to the royal coroner, who at that time was Michael Burgess and then subsequently became Lord Justice Scott Baker.”
According to Lord Stevens, as he now is, the inquiry thoroughly investigated all 104 allegations surrounding the death of Princess Diana, including probing the origins and credibility of the Mishcon Note.
“The Mishcon letter, we followed that up,” Lord Stevens explains. “I interviewed Lord Mishcon on three occasions and took further statements on that letter, because it’s something that caused me great concern. I saw Lord Mishcon about a month before he died, in about the spring of 2005, and he held course to the fact that he thought she was paranoid, and he hadn’t held much credence to it. He was her solicitor, and remember, a solicitor has legal obligations to their clients. He was kind enough to make no mistake about it.”
The Mishcon Note echoed another letter allegedly written by Princess Diana in October 1996, two months after her divorce from Prince Charles. It was found by her butler, Paul Burrell, and published in his 2003 book A Royal Duty.
“I am sitting here at my desk today in October longing for someone to hug me and encourage me to keep strong and hold my head high,” Diana wrote. “This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous—my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy.” (Tiggy Legge-Bourke was Prince Charles’ personal assistant. The BBC was forced to pay her damages last year when it was revealed that its journalist, Martin Bashir, had planted the idea of the Charles-Tiggy affair in Diana’s head using fake documentation of an abortion.)
In The Diana Investigations, Burrell concedes, “When she brought me that note, the princess was going through a very tricky part of her life, and so she wasn’t stable and her feelings were erratic.”
When the second note was made public in 2003, Lord Mishcon claimed to have had no knowledge of its existence. Lord Stevens’ inquiry ultimately concluded “with 100 percent certainty” that there was no conspiracy to murder Princess Diana. It was nothing more than a tragic accident.
The Diana Investigations will debut Aug. 18 on Discovery + in the U.S. and Aug. 21 on Channel 4 in the U.K.