On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana died in an accident in Paris. At the scene of the accident, the sympathy is still great. The small square next to the Seine has become a monument to Lady Di.
A heart of white roses lies above the tunnel of the Paris bridge Pont d’Alma. A photo of Lady Di in a pink frame stands alongside. “Déjà 25 ans” (“25 years already”) is written on the small postcards with Diana’s likeness placed to the left and right of the heart of flowers. A father explains to his sons what happened here 25 years ago: “I lived in Paris for 40 years. That hit me. It’s a date that stays, a bit like September 11th. A historic day. It’s died so tragically.”
On August 31, 1997, shortly after midnight, the car in which Diana and her boyfriend Dody Al-Fayed were sitting crashed into the 13th pillar of the bridge in the Pont d’Alma tunnel. Chased by the paparazzi, the driver – drunk and under the influence of drugs – loses control of the car. Well-known French journalist Bruce Toussaint remembers that night. He was traveling with friends, he tells radio station France Info: “We came to the Pont d’Alma and there were a lot of people on the bridge. The police had blocked the tunnel. I looked into the tunnel and saw a completely crushed vehicle . And the police officer I spoke to told me that in that car was the Princess of Wales, Lady Di.”
The scene of the accident has become a memorial to Lady Di
In 1997, there was no social media, few people had cell phones, and information spread slowly. Bruce Toussaint drives straight to Canal Plus, the TV station he was working for at the time. He speaks to his editor-in-chief and goes on the air at around 2 a.m.: “We said there had been a serious accident. We didn’t think at the time that she was dead or would die. However, we already knew that Dodi Al Fayed was dead is.” Just before six, a press conference that is still historic to this day takes place in the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. The seriously injured Diana was taken there after the accident.
“The death was determined at four in the morning,” chief physician Bruno Riou explained to journalists. Next to him sat the then French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevènement, visibly shocked. At midday, Prince Charles arrives in Paris, accompanied by Diana’s sisters and then French President Jacques Chirac. Thousands of people flock to the hospital, laying flowers and photos of Diana, crying, praying and saying goodbye. When Diana’s coffin, covered with the royal coat of arms, is carried out of the hospital, countless Parisians line the streets leading to the airport.
At the scene of the accident, the Pont d’Alma, the sympathy is great – to this day. The small square next to the Seine, by a large golden flame that was supposed to commemorate Franco-American friendship, has become a memorial to Lady Di. Since 2019 it is officially called “Place Diana”.