Paris is to pay tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, by naming a square after her, the city authorities have announced.
The square, near the site of her fatal car crash on August 31, 1997 in a tunnel under the Alma bridge, was to have been named after opera diva Maria Callas, but after the accident it was never officially inaugurated. Occupying part of the Place de l’Alma, it is now to be called “Place Diana princesse de Galles”.
“We decided to rename the square because it had already been claimed on behalf of Diana by Parisians and tourists,” a City Hall official said. The new name will be officially inaugurated after a vote by the Paris council in June, but officials say the decision is firm and the change is certain to be approved.
The square is also near the Flame of Liberty, a 11.5-foot sculpture in the shape of a flame, covered in gold leaf. The monument has become an unofficial memorial for the princess, but was in fact a gift to Paris by the American newspaper, the International Herald Tribune, on the occasion of its 100th anniversary in 1989.
Diana was immensely popular in France and people were shocked and saddened by the tragic death of “la Princess du Peuple”. Calls for a street or a square to be named after her arose in the months following the accident. Francine Lemont, 60, who lives near the square, said: “At last there will be a special place in Paris in memory of Diana. It was high time that the authorities listened to popular opinion. There are avenues and boulevards in Paris named after far less deserving people.”