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Trevor Rees-Jones was born in 1968. A former soldier, he then joined the security staff of Mohamed Al Fayed, the controversial Egyptian multi-millionaire businessman and owner of Harrod's, and worked as personal bodyguard to Fayed's son Dodi. In the summer of 1997, as a friendship developed between Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, Trevor found himself a first-hand witness to the events leading up to the crash that would kill them both on August 31 in Paris.
Following his discharge from the hospital, Trevor returned to the UK in October 1997, and was an inside party to the French investigation that followed. He resigned from his job with Fayed the following April, and now lives in Oswestry, Shropshire.
The presence of the Princess on Fayed's yacht, Jonikal, turned Trevor's job upside-down.
Trevor was Dodi's man, one-on-one close protection for the son of Mohamed Al Fayed, the Egyptian tycoon whose acquisition of Harrods had only heightened his obsession with winning a British passport and respect from royalty and the Establishment. 'The Boss' was high-profile and controversial — he'd played a part in the downfall of John Major's government, Trevor reckoned, and if he wanted to parade through Harrods with a formation of eight men plus uniformed security, and move out in two-car convoys of armoured Mercedes, fine. It reminded Trevor a bit of a rock star's entourage. And if it made the Boss happy . . .
Fayed himself may have had enemies, but the threat to Dodi was deemed so low that Trevor drove him alone through the streets of London. At the very worst, there could be a kidnap attempt, though a car crash was actually a far greater risk in a city. 'Dodi was anonymous — who'd recognize him on the street? There are lots of rich people nobody recognizes. The Sultan of Brunei could walk down the street in Oswestry and no one would know who he was,' Trevor thought. All that, however, was about to change.
Sitting in the Ops Room of Fayed's Park Lane office on the morning of 14 July 1997, with the Fayeds in the south of France with Diana and the Princes, and Dodi in Paris, Trevor was anticipating an incredibly boring two weeks. Then he checked the update and discovered that Dodi was en route to London, due back in a few hours, and would then hurry south to join the specialguests. Trevor would be leaving with him as soon as the Harrods helicopter delivered Dodi back from Paris. The bodyguard was delighted. 'I'd spotted the Princess's name when I'd checked the updated list at the Ops desk a few days before. The royal group had gone out with the family three days earlier. I was a bit astonished, to be honest. I hadn't realized there was that close a relationship between the family and the Princess.
'I thought it would be a hell of an interesting trip to be on. Some lads don't enjoy the longer trips because the pressure builds up — stress levels are always higher because the family is expecting perfection on their holiday.' No one was actually sacked, Trevor had observed. 'They are just asked to resign, then given a payout after signing another confidentiality agreement. With the Princess aboard, the family would be so uptight that everything would have to be spot-on.' That was fine with Trevor.
But it had the lads on the ground in St-Tropez worried. 'Since they'd heard that the Boss had bought a massive yacht, the lads had been thinking, "Fantastic! We'll be going to sea a bit this summer,"' says Trevor's mate Alexander Wingfield, known as 'Kez', who was based at Fayed's villa in France. 'But when it came through on a memo that HRH and her sons were going to be on the trip, what they all thought was, "Bloody hell, it'll end in tears . . ." With such a high-profile person, the family would be hyper, tempers would be fraying. There're bound to be a few sackings.' After all the anticipation, 'the teams on the ground weren't looking forward to this summer trip at all'. But the lads had a saying that let them live with the hazards of working for Fayed: 'It's paying the mortgage.' Trevor had a mortgage, too, on a charming old half-timbered house on the square at Whittington, a few miles from Oswestry in Shropshire.
Yet it was Sue, not him, who was living in the house, while he rented a place from a friend back home in Oswestry. Sue had left him in May, less than two months earlier, after just two years of marriage. Trevor still hoped for a reconciliation. She was a smashing girl, a graduate of Leeds University, very independent. Trevor had helped her set up her own housewares and gift shop in Oswestry. 'You had to be besotted for a bloke like me to go down and sell teacups and crystal, didn't you — or change your name from Rees to Rees-Jones, just to please her.' Sue Jones had wanted to keep her own name when they got married and add it to his, and Trevor 'was prepared to do anything'. By coincidence his mother Jill had joined the same two family names when she'd married Ernie Jones seven years earlier.
As well as his mum and stepdad there was the rugby club to draw him back on his weeks off. There were also visits to 'Nain', his grandmother, in the Welsh village where his dad had been raised and buried and where Trevor's strong Welsh roots lay too. But without Sue to go home to, trips abroad like this were even more appealing.
'Frankly, I'd felt a bit jealous of the lads in St-Tropez: that was where the fun and the action would be.' Working the Ops desk in London was more routine. Calls would come in from every home, yacht, car or aeroplane where a family member might be. You had to be on your toes, co-ordinating, tracking all movements. But now Trevor was going to be in on the action.
He had quickly organized the special gear and Harrods food the family wanted, and picked up his radios and mobile phones. He'd strapped on his radio harness, personal and telephone pagers and small baton. But, not surprisingly, no gun. Carrying was illegal in England, a ban Trevor admired. There was nothing more dangerous, he thought, than a half-trained security guard wielding a gun. On the training courses, they learned unarmed combat strikes. 'But again, they're only any good if you keep fit. Most blokes like to keep fit. The Park Lane office had a gym in the basement. Weights, punching-bag — I quite enjoyed it. But the goal is to prevent dangerous situations from happening.'
Trevor dressed and behaved to blend in. He was wearing chinos and a loose shirt that hid the beltful of gear he had to carry. He didn't want his principal to stand out either. 'In London, I'd call Dodi "Sir" when I met him in the morning, but, if we were with a group of people in a club, I'd be in a suit, like him, calling him "Dodi".'
He and Dodi rendezvoused at the Battersea heliport and flew by Harrods helicopter to Stansted airport, north-east of London. That morning Dodi had been watching the Bastille Day parade from the balcony of his Champs-Élysées apartment with his girlfriend, Kelly Fisher, the American model Trevor had often driven in London. 'I have no idea if they were engaged. I wasn't the least bit interested, to be truthful,' Trevor would later say. He called the Ops desk at Park Lane to report their arrival and they took off in Fayed's Gulfstream jet.
Mr Fayed, preparing to board the yacht to travel from St-Tropez to Cannes, would know his son's movements before they were airborne and expect to be told the moment he landed. 'He has ultimate control of everything, Al Fayed — knows everything that goes on,' Trevor knew, as he observed an obsession with control that seemed excessive even for the rich and famous. 'Be loyal to the Boss and he'll look after you,' was the first lesson you were taught. The second was that you never challenged this man's will. Even if you were right. Dodi didn't even seem to try.
At Nice, Trevor got the baggage and supplies transferred to a waiting van, drove to the nearby port of St-Laurent-du-Var and boarded Dodi's handsomely converted old torpedo boat, the Cujo. 'We're starting for Cannes,' he informed both the St-Tropez base and the Jonikal bridge as they cruised the forty minutes along the coast. The Fayeds and the Princess were on their way to meet them. The Cujo arrived first, moored, and waited as Trevor made radio contact with the captain. Then, moving towards them, they saw a fantastic yacht. Fifty yards long at least, Trevor figured. It looked half the length of a rugby pitch. Sleek and shiny white, Jonikal was impressive even in this playground full of megayachts.
'I'd seen the Princess before in Harrods, when she visited the Boss, Mr Fayed. The idea is not to be standing there looking at her, but you're human, aren't you? And I thought, what a good-looking woman she is.' But the Princess wasn't in Dodi's circle of friends, and Trevor had never met her. Now, as he rode the tender to Fayed's grand new yacht, Trevor spotted her on the rear deck. It was close to six o'clock in the evening, almost time for the Bastille Day fireworks. Even from a distance, he spotted the Princess's blonde hair. 'I have to admit I was looking for both her and the Princes, and when I saw them, it did bring home to me what a big summer this was going to be.
'It was well known that the Princess had dispensed with her own security — drove around London with only a driver. She was there as a guest of "our family", the Fayeds, and was ours to protect.' For this ten-day holiday, they'd be based at the family's cliffside estate at St-Tropez, Castel Ste-Thérèse, a paradise compound of pools, terraces and gardens where Fayed maintained more than a dozen security personnel and snarling guard dogs. The Princes, William and Harry, would have their two Special Branch policemen with them. But Fayed never went out for dinner on these holidays, and since Dodi seemed likely to be taking over the task of escorting the Princess, it looked like Trevor would find himself minding the Princess of Wales.
He had already spotted several boats filled with paparazzi, stalking the Jonikal in the fading light — his first sight of the tabloid press. The threat was not the scopes of snipers' rifles — his mother's constant fear for him when he'd been in Belfast — it was the huge telescopic lenses of photographers who could make a fortune from a single intimate shot. Trevor believed the government still kept a discreet eye out for the safety of the mother of the future king of England. 'If the threat was so high that someone was going to get shot, then you wouldn't get anyone at my level doing the job. It would be someone from the police or Special Forces. The risk's to her privacy, isn't it. It's photographs. But a photograph never killed anyone.'
As Trevor made his way to the bridge to call the Ops Room in London to report their arrival, Dodi moved towards the rear deck where the family and royal guests were dining before the fireworks. The saga had begun.
No one in his private life, not even his mother, knew Trevor was on the yacht with the Princess in the south of France. Although, if she saw the papers, she'd soon guess. His mother and his wife Sue were the only people who knew the number to contact him via the Ops desk. 'Mum may have shared it with Ernie, but they're the only ones who knew who I worked for. Some of the rugby lads may have known I did close-protection work, but nothing more.' His week-on-week-off schedule gave him time to live a thoroughly normal life in Oswestry. Rugby training Thursday night, game on Saturday, and beers after both. In the military, close protection, and rugby, the topics were about the same: sports, women, drinking and training. He'd learned in the military to keep work and home life totally separate.
Truthfully, a lot of it was not worth talking about. The hazard in civilian security work was not bullets but boredom. Trevor had loved his work in the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland: covert surveillance with a four-man team, slipping into an observation post in the hills at night. He became a master at silence, self-reliance and reacting quickly to danger. 'We were a Close-Observation Platoon, the forward eyes of our battalion. We had a very good platoon there. If they'd formed the unit they were thinking of to do the job all the time, it would have been fantastic — I'd still be out there. But we were due to go back to Aldershot after my tour, and I just couldn't be bothered putting up with the bullshit again.' After six years in the army, Trevor had moved on.
Since he had his A-levels, he took a fitful stab at college to learn sports physiotherapy — the rebel middle son's way of following the medical careers of his father, a surgeon, and his mother, a nursing sister — but the courses weren't what he'd hoped they would be. He'd heard about close-protection work from some ex-military lads, and thought, 'It's hands-on. You're thinking as well as being active. I fancy that' — as well as the £25,000 a year. He took two civilian close-protection courses, learned the basics. En-bus. De-bus. Driving and walking drills. Smooth getaways. Unarmed combat.
He'd spotted an ad in a military employment newspaper and interviewed for the Fayed job in 1995. Paul Handley-Greaves, an impressive chap barely older than Trevor who was already head of personal security at 60 Park Lane, had hired him on the spot.
It was like being back in the army. A cracking bunch of blokes, roughly forty in all, and all ex-military. Trevor had never been far from this environment since he joined the Paras at the age of eighteen — he clicked straight away. 'You're doing the same job, you live together, you're playing together — you're all in the same boat, really. It was the same brilliant piss-taking humour that never lets you get away with anything.' A humour that dared you to put on airs, and kept your feelings from getting soft.
The difference was not just that you never challenged the Boss, even if you thought professional procedures were being compromised, but that, unlike the army, 'you had to be a bloody diplomat. There was no ideal way to do things. Obviously, you had to keep the family safe. So you learned all kinds of subtle ways to defuse a potentially dangerous driving situation, say, so that it didn't anger your principal, or embarrass him in front of a friend.'
If bullets or fists are flying, then things have gone wrong. Trevor and the lads always laughed about the Hollywood view of bodyguards. 'You're not in a suit and dark glasses, shifting your eyes back and forth looking for assassins to jump out of a doorway. That would make me dizzy. Leaping in front of your principal to take a bullet — that's rubbish! That's Hollywood fantasy. Common sense and planning are the best weapons you've got. But if the shit hit the fan, I'd be happy to have a bloke like me there because I know I could do something.'
The Kevin Costner stereotype of a bodyguard made Kez Wingfield laugh too. Kez, Trevor's mate and the bodyguard who worked on this trip with him and then shared the fateful cruise that led to Paris, was as different from Trevor as chalk and cheese. A Royal Marines Commando who'd taken the elite RMP close-protection course at Longmoor, Kez was short and gabby with a passion for horses, while Trevor was a big, steady, husky bloke with a passion for rugby. Both had been raised in the military, but while Trevor was the son of a surgeon, Kez came from a colourful blend of rag-and-bone men, travellers and dockers from Hessle Road in Hull. 'Look up "grim" in the dictionary, and that's Hull,' says Kez, always ready with a quip. But Kez agreed with his mate on the bodyguards' role. 'You need a massive amount of discretion. You're not saving their life, like on the telly, you're just trying to make their life flow along smoothly. And you always obey the Boss. You still keep doing your job even though you're disappointed because you've missed a friend's wedding, or had to do overtime. If you don't, then you're not professional, and you're letting your colleagues down.'
Even working as Dodi's man you fetched and carried, did menial things, and there were other frustrations. Kez confirms that 'no one was ever jealous of big Johno [another bodyguard] or Trevor, the lads that worked with Dodi'. 'We were the people that worked the hardest just because of the hours we did,' says Trevor. 'You'd be up in the morning and then nearly every night of the week you'd be going out to either a restaurant, a film screening or a nightclub. And there's only you. That was the worst thing. If there were two of you, you could at least have a laugh together.'
Kelly Fisher would sometimes fly in for a week; the secretaries would call for a pick-up at the airport and Trevor would drive her and Dodi around. 'She was very attractive. Dodi always met up with attractive women. But the rumour that he was a playboy in that sense of the word, I didn't see it. Whoever he met at a nightclub, generally you'd drop Dodi off and then take them home.' Friends or girlfriends, 'everyone I've seen on TV said he was a hell of a good listener, which he probably was. I think he was a good listener because he didn't seem to have much to say for himself.'
Dodi's nightlife could be tedious for Trevor, but it was his unpredictability that frustrated. You had your ideal from basic training — four-man teams, time schedules, well-recce'd routes and back-up vehicles — but with Dodi, the ideal never happened. 'You could be out until three o'clock in the morning, you'd get a message that he'd be going somewhere at ten o'clock and then you'd hang around until after midday, that sort of thing.' The worst of Dodi came out when they were driving — just a frustration for Trevor at the time, but a pattern of behaviour that becomes significant, in hindsight. 'He'd be sitting in a traffic jam in the middle of the rush hour in London, and it would be: "Why have you gone this way?" He hated sitting in traffic, always wanted to push through, to jump lanes, to try to get somewhere more quickly. He'd order me to speed up where I knew a speed camera was coming up — I could lose my licence, my job. I wouldn't do it.'
'Dodi's complaining that you're not going quickly enough,' Handley-Greaves had cautioned Trevor, as the driving tussles continued. 'Okay, I'll go quicker then,' said Trevor. Four weeks later, Trevor was on the carpet again, with: 'Dodi says your driving's erratic — you're either going too slow or too fast.' Kelly Fisher would later tell a French judge under oath: 'Trevor was a perfect employee, very strict in his work, but . . . Dodi was a real dictator to him. He did not tell him, "Bring me to this place," but "Bring me to this place, otherwise you are fired." The situation . . . was always very tense and nervous.' Trevor agrees but adds, 'He was thoughtless to his employees, but he wasn't vindictive. It may have sounded like it but he didn't have it in him to be vindictive.' Dodi was compulsive, though. About having everything in its place in the vehicles, 'his scented wipes in a certain compartment, sweets in another. You had to make sure things were stocked up.'
Conversation between them was limited, at best. 'He wasn't a bloke you could have a chat with. But, good grief, I didn't want to be his pal. He spent a lot of time on his mobile phone. He was always calling people up. And I was quite happy to concentrate on what I was doing. If you asked me, "Did you and Dodi get on well?", I'd say he got on a hell of a lot better with his other man, John. And yet John was taken off the job a week or two later and I was left on. I don't know why he was taken off, and to be honest, neither does he. Obviously, his shelf-life on that job had just expired.'
One thing Dodi didn't really fuss about was seat-belts. Neither man really wore them in the city. 'But if we got on the M4 to Heathrow, a dual carriageway where the road gets quick, seat-belts would go on. Generally, Dodi would be in the front with me, in the Range Rover.' Nothing would be said. He would follow Trevor's lead.
Dodi was quite heavily into cars. There was a bank of cars which were considered his — a Range Rover, a couple of Aston Martins and a Ferrari — and he was into gadgets, toys, that sort of thing. He was also fascinated by the military. He had a massive collection of baseball caps from American warships, and things that would detect a radar trap; high-tech gadgets.
Trevor had gradually learned how to handle Dodi. 'You'd be driving, he'd look in a shop and say, "Find out about that," knowing full well that he wasn't really interested. As long as you answered, "Oh, yes, I'll do it," he usually forgot about it. He'd tell me to stop so that we could look at some new wheels, say, for one of the cars. Or, as we drove by the Lamborghini and Porsche showrooms right next to Fayed's headquarters in Park Lane, he'd go in and get some info. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred nothing would happen.' But if he took it the next step, and money was going to change hands for a new car, Trevor would be forced to play a part in a humiliating process. 'Dodi's purse-strings were still held by his father. If Dodi did something that was contravening what his father wanted, I had to report it to his father. I worked for his father, not for him.
'I'd inform the team leader and he'd pass it up to the Boss. I rarely went to Fayed direct, because, like in the military, you go through a chain of command. So his father would say no, and I'd have to tell Dodi, "Your father says you can't do it." Dodi would make a great fuss about it for a while, and I'd just sit there and say, "Talk to your father."'
It was sad, really, the relationship between the father and son, Trevor felt. Trevor had had no choice but to break free of his own dad. At seventeen, Trevor had found him dead of a heart attack, slumped over the wheel of his car, the horn stuck like a death wail. It is a memory that still cuts deeper than he'd ever shown.
'When the Boss went on telly after the crash saying what a wonderful son Dodi was, I was surprised. I must admit I didn't consider them that close. I felt the Boss would have liked Dodi to have been more like himself, a bit of a go-getter. He seemed to keep Dodi always off-guard. I'd take him to Harrods; his father would see him for only a couple of minutes. Once, on the shift before mine, Dodi turned up for a meeting and his father didn't want to see him at all. He closed the doors. They had to take him away.' And yet Dodi's father would often have him up for dinner in his penthouse apartment at Park Lane, and had indulged him from early childhood. When Dodi was fifteen he'd given him a chauffeured Rolls-Royce and a Mayfair apartment. Yet, at forty-two, Dodi could still have the cost of a set of wheels withheld from him. Trevor didn't understand it, 'But I now feel they were probably close in their own way. An eldest son must be special.'
Trevor was happy to work for Fayed. 'Fayed demanded loyalty and he demanded respect, and paid a reasonable wage to get it.' Trevor didn't know how long his shelf-life with the organization would be, but he felt he had the respect of the senior security staff for surviving with Dodi as well as he had. And the job could be great — it could be brilliant. You can put up with a lot to get seven days off every fortnight. And to spend part of your summer in
As he walked forward to the bridge to call London and chat with the lads, Trevor met the Princes' Special Branch men. 'How do I address the Princess?' he asked them.
'We call her "Ma'am",' one of them replied.
'What do you call the Princes?'
'Call them by their names, William and Harry.'
The team leader gave him a tour of the yacht, showed him the basics you need to know — where's the fire-fighting equipment, life-belts, first-aid kit, the loo, the Mess, the galley. 'It was a smashing yacht, lavish in every way.' Well-seasoned by round-the-world journeys, the Jonikal had been feverishly refurbished to Fayed's extravagant taste in the few months since he'd paid $20 million for her. He had kept the Italian captain, Luigi Del Tevere, who had skippered the Jonikal for years, but the previous British crew had gone.
'My first impression was, "What a beautiful yacht, but will I ever find my way around?" I didn't want to stumble into a family area where I shouldn't be. Like when you visit anywhere new, it seemed a lot bigger than it really was,' Trevor reflects.
With radar, round-the-clock watches and limited access, the Jonikal was secure. The photographers might harass them, but they couldn't get on board. With a speed of fifteen knots under her belt, she only had to turn and head out to sea to outrun the paparazzi's small boats and dinghies. But on land, where Trevor would be working . . . there, Dodi's unpredictability, combined with the Princess's celebrity, could be a security nightmare. Trevor was in new territory, with challenges he'd never faced before. He had to admit he enjoyed that.
He settled on the bridge with a soft drink as the fireworks began. Bursts of colour showered the night sky along the coastline. He wasn't a great one for fireworks, but he had to admit he'd never seen a display quite like this one before. He wondered what else was going to change; a few weeks earlier he'd never have imagined that he, an ordinary bloke from Shropshire, would be in the south of France, effectively minding the Princess of Wales.
|Part I||Prelude to Tragedy|
|2||All at Sea||23|
|3||The Pressure Mounts||39|
|4||The Last Odyssey||60|
|5||Prelude to Tragedy||89|
|Part II||In the Eye of the Storm|
|7||Rebuilding a Face||143|
|8||The Sole Survivor||177|
|9||"I Don't Remember"||199|
|Part III||Moving On|
|11||Trial by Tabloid||290|
|12||"I'm Not Going Back"||319|
Posted October 18, 2002
Although Trevor Rees-Jones states that he published his story for two reasons- to get closure for himself and money for his legal bills, it is obvious that his most basic need (conscious or otherwise) was to prove his own innocence. After all, he was the one person charged with protecting the Princess. He lived and she didn't. Hard to live with. Although written with the help of a professional writer, Rees-Jones's voice comes through loud and clear. While he "can't remember anything" from the time they left the Ritz until he became conscious sometime later in a hospital (smart man!), there is a lot of information about the period following the "accident"- the investigation, his treatment by al Fayed and others. If, like me, you want to know as much as possible about the cirucumstances surrounding Diana's death, this is a must-read. Just keep in mind that (1) he did not actually write the book himself; and(2) he must protect himself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.