Poll On Princess Diana's Death

This is a Aug. 9, 1997, file photo of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her butler, Paul Burrell, rear left, meeting Bosnian Serbs and Muslims affected by landmines near Tuzla, Bosnia during the second day of her visit to Bosnia. Princess Diana wrote in a letter months before her death that she feared someone was planning to kill her in a staged car accident, a London tabloid newspaper reported Monday Oct. 20, 2003. AP

Earlier this year, the British government launched a formal investigation into the death of Princess Diana. On this side of the Atlantic, just about one-third of Americans say they have been following news on this topic closely, and large majorities think that the car crash was probably an accident.

But those who closely follow the stories are more likely to think that the car crash was planned, and more than half of them think the British Royal Family was involved in it. Regardless of what they think happened, however, Americans overwhelmingly doubt that we will ever find out the truth about Princess Diana's death.

THE ACCIDENT: PLACING BLAME

Now, most Americans think the car crash that killed Princess Diana in August 1997 was probably an accident, but a quarter say it was probably planned. Those who have been following news about Princess Diana's death are more closely divided: half say it was an accident, but two in five think it was probably planned.

CAR CRASH THAT KILLED PRINCESS DIANA WAS:

Probably an accident

All
58%

Follow Story Closely
50%

Probably planned

All
26

Follow Story Closely
39




Overall, just under one-third of Americans say they have been closely following news about Princess Diana's car crash since she died six and a half years ago, and seven in ten say they have not been following very closely or not at all. Women are more likely than men to still follow the story closely, 37% to 23%.

Large majorities of Americans don't think either the British government or the British Royal Family was involved in the death of Princess Diana.

INVOLVED IN PRINCESS DIANA'S DEATH?
(Among All Respondents)


The British Government

Yes
12

No
70

Don't Know
18


The British Royal Family
Yes
20

No
61

Don't Know
19




Those who think the car crash in Paris was planned, however, are much more likely to blame the British government or the British Royal Family for Princess Diana's death. One in three of those who suspect foul play thinks the British government was involved in Princess Diana's death, and a majority of this group, 55%, thinks the British Royal Family was involved.

INVOLVED IN PRINCESS DIANA'S DEATH?
(Among Those Who Think Car Crash Was Planned)


The British Government

Yes
34

No
49

Don't Know
17


The British Royal Family

Yes
55

No
30

Don't Know
15




WILL WE EVER KNOW THE TRUTH?

Regardless of what they think was involved in Princess Diana's 1997 car crash, three quarters of Americans say we may never find out what really happened. Just 15% think we will eventually know the whole story.

WILL WE EVENTUALLY KNOW THE WHOLE STORY ABOUT PRINCESS DIANA'S DEATH?


Yes
15%

No
76%


Americans hold very similar views on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy: in 1998, 77% of Americans told this Poll that Americans would never know what really happened in November 1963.




This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,024 adults, interviewed by telephone March 30-April 1, 2004. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.



(c)MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.

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