When Prince William and Kate Middleton step foot in Paris on Friday, it will be the first time the future king has made an official visit to the city since his mother died 20 years ago.
The royal trip will take place over two days, during which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will aim to strengthen relations between France and a post-Brexit Britain. But its significance extends way beyond diplomacy. By revisiting the place where Princess Diana was killed in a catastrophic car accident, William has finally decided to face the most painful memory from his childhood.
At present the schedule for William and Kate’s Paris trip does not include a visit to The Flame of Liberty, a place which has become an unofficial mecca for thousands of Diana fans due to its location at the entrance of the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, where the fatal crash occurred. But for the royal couple, even being in the City of Light is sure to bring to the surface painful memories of the tragic circumstances surrounding Diana’s death
The details of that night in August 1997 remain as hard to fathom today as they did during that hot Parisian summer. The People’s Princess had spent the previous week on vacation in Sardinia with her new boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. She had only been dating him for a month, and he was somewhat of a rebound fling for the 36 year old divorcée. After separating from Prince Charles in 1992, her only serious relationship had been with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, a man friends later described as the love of her life.
But after a two-year undercover relationship, Khan had refused to marry Diana and so she had ended things, instead turning to the ultimate distraction: a rich playboy with his own 200-foot yacht. Diana’s decision to seek solace in the arms of Dodi, and make Khan jealous in the process, ended up having disastrous consequences felt the world over.
Before returning to London from their Mediterranean cruise, the new couple decided to spend one last night alone in Paris and Dodi had a big surprise up his sleeve. At 6 p.m. on Aug. 30 he paid a visit to a nearby jewelry store and picked up an expensive diamond ring which was inscribed with the words, “Tell Me Yes.