Will & Kate to visit Paris in first official trip to city where Diana died

It's going to be a year for remembering the late Princess Diana, and now her son, Prince William, and his wife, Duchess Kate of Cambridge, will be spending two days next month in Paris, the city where she died.

Kensington Palace announced Monday that the couple will make an official two-day visit to the French capital on March 17 and 18, at the request of the Foreign Office. It will be their first visit as a couple, and Will's first visit to Paris since his mother died in a car crash on Aug. 31, 1997. She was 36.

As per usual, the palace released only a few details: Their itinerary will include a reception for young French leaders from a variety of fields; a formal dinner at the residence of the British ambassador to France; and attendance at the Wales v France Six Nations rugby match at the Stade de France.

But their appearance in the City of Light will inevitably recall the dark night that Diana, traveling in a speeding car driven by a drunk driver, was killed, along with the driver and her then-boyfriend, when the car struck a pillar in a traffic tunnel. The sole survivor, one of her bodyguards, was the only one wearing a seat belt.

By then divorced from Prince Charles the Prince of Wales, Diana's death left her family and Britain thunderstruck with shock, setting off days of mourning and bitter criticism of Queen Elizabeth II for initially declining to participate in the public display of near-hysterical grief. Eventually, the royal family's relationship with the public was righted, after Diana was accorded a sublime royal funeral, despite no longer being royal, and the queen addressed the nation seeking support for her then young sons.

Prince William, 34, and Prince Harry, 32, have taken the lead in preserving Diana's memory and legacy; on what would have been her 46th birthday in July 2007, the 10th anniversary year of her death, they organized a massive Concert for Diana, with proceeds donated to some of her favorite charities.

This year, her sons have commissioned a statue of Diana to be erected by the end of 2017 in the grounds of Kensington Palace, her former home and her sons' current home.

"We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and legacy," the sons said in a statement posted on Twitter on Jan. 28.

USA Today


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