A British judge has ruled that inquests into the 1997death of Princess Diana and her companion, Dodi al-Fayed, will be held simultaneously and be heard by ordinary juries.

Judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss ruled that an inquiry before a jury made up of royal household officials, as would be usual for a royal family member, would be inappropriate in this case. She also ruled that the hearings should be open to the public. Under British law, formal inquests are held when a death id not the result of natural causes.

A British government inquiry report last month said the deaths resulted from a "tragic accident" that did not involve any foul play. It said Diana was not pregnant when she died in a car crash in Paris. It blamed the crash on their driver Henri Paul who also was killed, saying he was drunk and driving too fast.

An earlier probe by French authorities also blamed the driver, saying he was intoxicated and impaired by drugs.

Diana's death unleashed a series of conspiracy theories that British agents or the royal family had plotted the death because Diana's relationship with Fayed was embarrassing the royal household.

Fayed's father, Mohamed al-Fayed, claimed that Diana was pregnant with his son's child and was killed by British intelligence to prevent her from embarrassing the royal family.