Diana inquest: No grassy knoll in Paris

All of the news agencies have headlines on the wires over the conclusion of the Princess Diana inquest — more than a decade after her death, mind you — so I know it’s a Very Important Story. After months of investigation prompted by outlandish claims by Mohammed al-Fayed that the British intelligence community had nothing better to do than assassinate a former royal and the mother of the future King of Great Britain, the inquest announced that Diana and Dodi Fayed died in a car accident:

The coroner in the inquest into the death of Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed said Monday there was no evidence she was murdered by British secret services, as claimed by Fayed’s father.

“There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana’s execution, and there is no evidence that the secret intelligence service or any other government agency organised it,” said coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker.

Mohammed Al-Fayed, the tycoon owner of London’s Harrods department store, believes Diana and his son Dodi were engaged and has claimed Prince Philip was linked to an establishment plot to kill them and stop her marrying a Muslim.

Specifically he has claimed that the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, ordered the killing of the couple, who died with chauffeur Henri Paul in a 1997 Paris car crash.

But starting his summary of the inquest, which began last October, the coroner said many of Al-Fayed’s theories were “demonstrably without foundation.”

The most laughable part of the conspiracy theory is the notion that Prince Philip could order MI-6 to do anything. The royal family has an entirely ceremonial role, and has had that for decades. Even if the Queen had any authority over government agencies, Prince Philip wouldn’t share it anyway. He’s a consort, not a king, and hardly has any credibility as that.

I’ve never understood this paranoid theory about her supposed assassination anyway. The royals were scandalized that Diana might marry a Muslim? Who would have cared about that in British intelligence? They have a lot more problematic Muslims on their radar screens than either Dodi or his father, and did in 1997, too. Even supposing British intelligence gave two seconds’ thought to Diana’s love life, wouldn’t they have just targeted Dodi?

Maybe now the world can get past the absurdity of the obsession over the British royal family. Obviously the British want to retain them for the ceremony, but otherwise they’re the most useless government program imaginable. It’s not entirely inaccurate to describe them as a subsidy for the British press, which might collapse if the UK transformed itself into a republic.