Paris Honors Diana with Two Memorials
With the fifth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana coming up this Saturday, attention has turned to her two memorials — one official and one not — in Paris, the city where she and her companion Dodi Fayed and chauffeur Henri Paul died in a high-speed car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Her official memorial, the Associated Press reports, is hidden in a quiet corner of the City of Lights, in a picturesque yet overgrown French garden. But the garden attracts few of the Diana devoted, who instead flock to a de facto shrine that stands above the tunnel entrance where she was killed. That site is marked with the gleaming “Flame of Liberty,” a copper replica of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, and was spontaneously transformed into an altar to Diana after the accident, reports the news service. As a result, mourners piled flowers, glued on photographs and left messages — turning the shrine into a total mess. (The gold-plated flame and its black and gray marble pedestal were actually presented to Paris by the International Herald Tribune newspaper in 1987 as a token of French-American friendship.) For the anniversary, Paris officials have tidied up the memorial. Yolande Taurel, a spokeswoman for Paris City Hall, tells the AP, “We saw the monument was dirty all the time, so after the cleanup, we put barriers around it to stop people from writing graffiti on it.” Visitors this weekend will find steel barricades surrounding the flame and its pedestal to keep them at arm’s length.
Check out PEOPLE’s special feature on Diana, including an exclusive book excerpt and photos.