LONDON – Pictures taken just after the 1997 Paris car crash that killed Princess Diana were aired on a British television channel Wednesday night, despite a plea from her sons not to show them.
Prince William and Prince Harry had protested that showing photographs of the final moments of her life would be a "gross disrespect to their mother's memory."
Channel 4's documentary, "Diana: The Witness in the Tunnel," showed photographs of the scene inside the Mercedes in which the princess was riding when it crashed Aug. 31, 1997, killing her, boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their driver.
A detailed black and white image of the rear of the car, where Diana lay, showed a doctor attending to her minutes after the wreck, but did not show her face — which was obscured by a gray square.
"If it were your or my mother dying in that tunnel, would we want the scene broadcast to the nation?" the princes' private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said in a letter to Channel 4 television that was publicly released Tuesday.
Channel 4 defended the film as a responsible documentary. "We do not show, nor have we ever considered showing, Diana's final moments," it said in a statement.
The broadcaster said the documentary examined the role of photographers alleged to have pursued Diana and Fayed from the Ritz Hotel to the Pont d'Alma tunnel, where the couple's speeding limousine slammed into a concrete pillar.
Police inquiries in both France and Britain concluded that pursuing photographers did not cause the crash, or fail to act properly at the scene.
"They were very, very close, but they did not impede anybody," Mark Butt, an eyewitness, said on the documentary.
In 2002, France's highest court dropped manslaughter charges against nine photographers.
This past February, a Paris appeals court levied a one euro ($1.35) fine against three of those photographers — Jacques Langevin, Christian Martinez and Fabrice Chassery — for invasion of privacy for taking pictures of Diana and Fayed on the night of the crash.
Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, filed the invasion of privacy complaint, which focused on three photos of the couple leaving the hotel and three taken after the accident.
Al Fayed claims the photographers were used as a cover-up for a murder plot orchestrated by British intelligence services and members of the royal family.
Lord Stevens, a former chief of London's Metropolitan Police, concluded after a lengthy inquiry that the crash was due to the chauffeur being drunk while driving at a high speed trying to elude photographers.
Stevens' report, published in January, said: "There was no evidence to show that the actions of the paparazzi were anything other than their normal working practice and no evidence that showed they were involved in any criminal conspiracy."
There was also no evidence that the "paparazzi, independently or in collusion with others, undertook actions in order to create an environment that allowed others to put into operation a plan to murder the Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed," Stevens said.