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Retracing Diana & Dodi's Last Steps

A bus carrying members of the jury for the inquest in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, through the Pont d'Alma tunnel in Paris, France, Monday Oct. 8, 2007, as the jury visit key sites regarding the final moments of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed before the car they were traveling in crashed inside the Pont d'Alma tunnel ten years ago, on Aug. 31, 1997. The court inquest into the fatal car crash, is being held in London, but the jurors were given a tour of Paris to view aspects of the case. (AP Photo / Arthur Edwards, POOL)
AP/Arthur Edwards/POOL
The London jury for the inquest into the 1997 deaths of Princess Diana, Dodi al Fayed, and his driver, Henri Paul, is in Paris - visiting the places which turned out to be the last that Diana, Dodi and Henri would ever see.

The inquest is to determine when, where and how Diana and Fayed were killed. It opened last week and is expected to last no more than six months.

Tuesday, the jury is expected to visit the Ritz Hotel and other places in Paris. When it returns to London this week, it will hear from the first French witnesses via a video link with the Court of Appeal in Paris.

Monday night, traffic was halted in and around the Paris tunnel where the car crash happened on Aug. 31, 1997. As the roar of cars gave way to eerie quiet, jurors ventured by foot into a dark underpass and came to a halt before the scarred, dented pillar where Princess Diana's Mercedes crashed.

CBS News correspondent Sheila McVicar reports the 11 jurors stood in silence Monday night, with heads bowed for nearly a minute - taking in the scene, and an inscription scrawled on a nearby pillar: "Diana, we love you forever."

Lord Justice Scott Baker, heading the inquest, has instructed the jurors to absorb the sights: the back door of the Ritz Hotel, where Diana and her boyfriend slipped away for their final ride; the flow of traffic on the Place de la Concorde; the slope and twist of the Pont de l'Alma underpass, where their speeding car slammed into a concrete pillar.


Photos: Diana's Ill-Fated Journey
Photos: Images From The Inquest
Under British law, inquests are held when someone dies unexpectedly, violently or of unknown causes, but this inquest was delayed by exhaustive investigations by French and British authorities. Both dismissed conspiracy theories and concluded the driver was drunk and speeding.

Much of Monday's itinerary focused on the underpass, across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower.

Led by two French police motorcyclists, three gray buses with tinted windows carried jurors, court officials and journalists through the tunnel, once in each direction.

Jurors made another visit to the underpass in the evening to more closely replicate the conditions of the after midnight crash, and then they were driven to the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital where Diana died.

Camera crews were posted throughout Paris to capture the buses as they sped around under police escort. Court officials shouted at cameramen to get off the road while jurors studied traffic patterns near the tunnel.

Baker asked everyone to keep in mind that Monday was not necessarily an ordinary day in Paris.

"Members of the jury, it may be that what you're seeing is not entirely natural because of the large number of police and photographers that are present," he said.

The tour was marked by a few surreal moments.

As a bus arrived at the Ritz Hotel for the inquest, it collided with its own police outrider, knocking him off his motorcycle. Moments later, a loud bang echoed across the square as a bus tire burst.

Mechanics spent more than a half hour changing the tire, but waiting photographers snapped to life when Victoria Beckham emerged from the Ritz wearing a short black dress, huge sunglasses and stiletto heels.

Officials kept details of the inquest's Paris visit under wraps until the last moment amid fears of swarming paparazzi similar to those who pursued the former wife of the heir to the British throne and her boyfriend in their final moments.

Diana, 36, and Fayed, 42, were heading from the Ritz to Fayed's home near the Arc de Triomphe when they were killed. His father, Egyptian-born billionaire Mohamed al Fayed, has said it was their engagement night; al Fayed claims the couple was murdered in a plot directed by Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Martyn Gregory, author of "Diana, the Last Days," has his own theory, specifically on why the conspiracy theory looms so large for al Fayed.

"On Diana's last journey," said Gregory, "she was travelling from a Fayed hotel to a Fayed apartment, with a Fayed driver in a Fayed car, sitting next to Fayed's son and behind Fayed's bodyguard. So he has spent the last ten years trying to take the Fayed factor out of that incontroversible equation."

A French investigation concluded the car was speeding and the driver had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. Tests showed the presence of two prescription drugs, including the antidepressant Prozac, in the driver's system.

Neither the French nor British investigations have blamed paparazzi for the crash.