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'I wish I'd died instead,' says bodyguard of Princess Di

LONDON -- Princess Diana's bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones said on Saturday he wished he had died instead of her in the deadly 1997 Paris car crash but poured cold water on conspiracy theories.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Rees-Jones dismissed as "ridiculous" claims by luxury Harrods department store boss Mohamad Al Fayed that Prince Philip had masterminded the deaths of Diana and her lover, his son Dodi."I still sympathize with him for losing his son," said Rees-Jones, the only passenger to survive the crash. "But I can't sympathize with him for accusing Prince Philip of murdering Dodi and the princess or me of not doing my job properly."

"What happened, happened. It's ridiculous," he added. "No one wanted to believe she'd gone because of someone drinking and speeding in some horrible underpass. If I could have died and those three survived, I would have done it."

Rees-Jones added he had been exasperated by the way Dodi would keep the couple's travel plans secret from him until the last minute, saying it stopped him from doing his job properly.

"I was going to say to Dodi, 'You've got to give us more information or get someone else to do the job'," he added.

Jones was left in a coma following the crash and had to undergo extensive surgery to rebuild his face. However, his head injuries left him unable to remember details surrounding the crash -- which left the door open to conspiracy theories.

A probe concluded that drunken driver Henri Paul, also killed in the accident, was to blame for the August 1997 crash.

Rees-Jones' new book "The Bodyguard's Story" is due to be serialized in the Daily Telegraph next week.