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Smiths Queen is Dead

Did Morrissey predict Princess Diana’s death?

It’s a conspiracy theory that’s stretched over two decades – we speak to the man who believes The Smiths foreshadowed Di’s death

Morrissey, the indie boy’s problematic fave of choice, is a deeply confusing person. He’s the co-founder and lyricist of The Smiths, every sensitive, bookish person’s favourite band; he’s a hater of Margaret Thatcher and the UK Royal Family; he’s a lover of animals. Yet at the same time, he’s pro-Brexit; he’s written dogwhistle Facebook posts about immigration and terrorism; he’s a fan of Nigel Farage; and last year he seemingly declared support for hard-right UKIP leadership candidate Anne-Marie Waters while promoting his latest record, Low in High School. More recently he aired some pretty bad views about the victims of the Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, culminating in a strange vlog addressing his ‘haters’.

But there’s something else about Morrissey. He has a secret. You see, with both The Smiths’ 1986 album The Queen Is Dead and his later works, he actually predicted the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. That is, at least, the view of Canadian David Alice, who’s spent the past 20 years researching the conspiracy theory, which he has called The Diana-Morrissey Phenomenon. It’s a wonderful wormhole of coincidences and facts, and I’ve long been a fan of it.

Alice has been into The Smiths and Morrissey since early 1997. “I am a vegan, and respect people who speak in defence of animals, which is why I first became aware of The Smiths album Meat is Murder,” he says. “I went to the second-hand shop hoping to find a cheap used copy of that, but they only had The Queen is Dead, so I bought that instead.”

Princess Diana died half a year later. Alice tells me that when the first televised reports of her death mentioned she had been killed alongside her boyfriend in a night-time car crash in an underpass, he found himself recalling Morrissey’s lyrics to indie disco favourite “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”. “It’s about two people out on a romantic date who are fantasising about dying together in a car crash, and mention being gripped by fear in an underpass,” he says. “Moments after recalling this, I reminded myself that the song was from an album titled The Queen is Dead, and that’s when I got a spooky hunch that I was going to discover that this record foreshadowed the death of Diana, who famously wished to be known as a queen of hearts.”

After that, Alice started looking for clues to back up his feelings. “I soon learned that the aforementioned song was the only Smiths single released exclusively to France – the nation where Diana was killed in an underpass that runs below the Flame of Liberty monument, a ‘light that never goes out’,” he explains.

His work on the theory is extremely comprehensive. Alice says the current version of his website took over three years, working every day, to complete it. All bases seem to be covered, from covering the fact that Morrissey and songwriting partner Johnny Marr first met at a Patti Smith concert 19 years to the day before Diana died, to looking in-depth at the cover of The Queen is Dead, whose cover depicts Alain Delon, an actor who appeared in only one movie, Le Passage, where his character died in a car crash. Even when I try to think of a song from the album that surely can’t be used as a prediction for Diana’s death – the jaunty “Vicar in a Tutu”, Alice has discovered a link (in this case, that the line “as Rose counts the money in the canister” relates to the “Goodbye England’s Rose” line from Elton John’s 1997 version of “Candle in the Wind”).

The Queen is Dead is not the only one of Morrissey’s works that backs up Alice’s theory. His 1994 song “Interlude” with Siouxsie Sioux is relevant, as Siouxsie’s band the Banshees were named after a folklore harbinger of death, while the last song Morrissey released in July 1997 – the month before Diana’s death – was “Alma Matters”, whose title preempts the car crash, which happened in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.

The Diana-Morrissey Phenomenon website was last updated two years ago, in November 2015. I wonder if Alice has discovered any other links, such as around the recent 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, or any of the newer royals like Kate Middleton. However, like Morrissey, Alice has “little interest in the Royal Family”. “If Diana had not died in a manner correlating with Morrissey’s work, I would have little interest in her,” he says.

What would Alice say to naysayers who think all of this could simply be a coincidence? On this page of his site he deals exactly with that question, explaining that the correlations are so precise and abundant, and are “strategically located, in the works of Morrissey where you’d most expect them to be found”, such as in The Smiths album whose title announces a royal death and the final Smiths compilation released before Diana’s death, which has the actress Diana Dors on the front. “Furthermore, in Morrissey’s first documented statement on Diana’s death, something moved him to begin by saying ‘It was so predictable, it was expected’,” Alice says. 

“The reaction to my site has been far from what I expected,” he adds. “Some people think it’s ridiculous, others think it’s miraculous. I did think the world would take notice of it, but that has not been the case at all. I do find it interesting that after The Queen is Dead the next Smiths album released was a compilation titled The World Won’t Listen.” 

Ultimately, I wonder why Morrissey – famously disinterested in, and vexed by, the Royal Family – would bother putting out a body of work dedicated to predicting Diana’s death. Alice, however, doesn’t have a theory. “I don’t believe that Morrissey was aware that his work would foreshadow Diana’s death, so I have no answer to your question,” he says. It looks like it’ll forever remain a mystery.