Paris Wants to Rename Part of Place d’Alma After Princess Diana

Flamme de la Liberté, a makeshift memorial for Princess Diana in Paris, France. Photo credit: Zairon / Wikimedia Commons.

On Wednesday, May 29, the Paris City Hall announced that it was preparing to rename a square after Princess Diana. The Place Maria-Callas, the proposed square, is located on the Place d’Alma above the Pont d’Alma tunnel, where the Princess of Wales was killed on August 31, 1997. The new name for the square would be “Place Diana Princesse de Galles.” The municipal council is expected to vote on this measure at the end of June.

The site in question is the one adjacent to the Alma tunnel, where Diana and her then companion, Dodi Al-Fayed — as well as their French driver — were killed in a car accident, after being chased by paparazzi from their hotel, the Ritz. The Place already houses the Flame of Liberty, used as an unofficial memorial to her. But as Harpers Bazaar UK points out, “the monument — a gold-leaf replica of of the flame of the torch from the Statue of Liberty — was originally given to Paris by US newspaper International Herald Tribune in 1989 to partly celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication being printed in France, but also as a mark of thanks to France for the restoration work on the Statue of Liberty accomplished three years earlier by two French businesses.”

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It was therefore necessary to have a real place where the public could come to pay official tribute to the Princess of Wales. “We decided to rename the square because it had already been claimed on behalf of Diana by Parisians and tourists,” said a Paris City Hall official to the Telegraph.

In the English capital, a memorial, in the form of a fountain, was opened in June of 2000 near Kensington Palace, the Princess’ former residence after her divorce from Prince Charles. A garden in her honor was also inaugurated, where their son, Prince Harry, officially announced his engagement to the American actress Meghan Markle in November 2017.