Fans and friends of Diana, princess of Wales were to mark the 20th anniversary of her death on Thursday as well-wishers lit candles and paid their respects at the sombre scene of her fatal car crash.
Her children Princes William and Harry on Wednesday greeted the steady stream of well-wishers bringing floral tributes to the gates of London’s Kensington Palace, where they grew up with the princess.
And just after midnight in Paris on Thursday, a few braved the rain to be at the Pont de l’Alma tunnel where, precisely two decades earlier, her car smashed into a pillar, taking the life of the most famous woman in the world.
One man lit several candles around the Flame of Liberty monument, which stands above the underpass and has become a shrine to the princess.
Diana was “revolutionary”, said Sian Croston, a 17-year-old student from London.
“She changed the royal family forever.
“She will always be the people’s princess,” she said, using the epithet coined by prime minister Tony Blair in the hours after her death.
The crash happened at around 12:23am on August 31, 1997.
Diana was killed along with Dodi Fayed, her wealthy Egyptian film producer boyfriend of two months, and his drink-impaired, speeding driver Henri Paul, who was trying to evade paparazzi photographers.
Twenty years on, a few dozen bouquets of flowers and pictures of the princess have been laid at the Flame of Liberty by sympathetic visitors.
“I was a child when she died but I studied her biography,” said German journalist Marie Hermann, 25, from Frankfurt.
“l loved Diana and her commitment to charities,” she told AFP.
Linda Bigelbach, 61, from Saint Paul in Minnesota, said: “I remember her wedding day and I remember the day she died.”
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