Bodyguard who survived Diana crash is conscious and able to communicate

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Trevor Rees-Jones, the sole survivor of the car crash which killed Diana, Princess of Wales, has regained full consciousness and "can communicate", it was announced yesterday.

Mr Rees-Jones, 29, (above) a bodyguard employed by the al-Fayed family, suffered severe facial and lung injuries and less serious head injuries in the accident two weeks ago. French investigators have been waiting anxiously to question him on the sequence of events leading to the crash, which also killed his employer, Dodi Fayed, and the driver, Henri Paul.

A statement yesterday by the doctor treating him said that his condition was "much improved". He had been removed from a ventilator, was "perfectly conscious" and could communicate.

It remains unclear whether Mr Rees-Jones has yet regained his speech. His jaw and tongue were badly damaged in the accident but earlier reports that his tongue was severed have been denied. The former paratrooper underwent extensive surgery to rebuild his face on 4 September.

Sources in the investigation told the French press this week that they did not expect to interview Mr Rees-Jones for several weeks. The sources said that, until then, they would ask his family to limit discussion of the accident with him to preserve his own recollections as clearly as possible.

The funeral of the driver of the car, Henri Paul, 41, will take place near Lorient in Brittany on Saturday. His family had wanted to cremate his remains but they have been ordered to bury him, for the time being, in case further tests are needed.

The BBC's coverage of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, was preferred by viewers over that of ITV according to figures released yesterday. The BBC received 19.29m viewers for its programme compared with ITV's 11.71m.