Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge going Paris for an official visit

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William and Kate to make a poignant visit to Paris next month for the first time since Princess Diana was killed in a car crash almost 20 years ago
Royal couple will spend two days in the French capital next month
Although Harry has visited, William has not been to city since mother’s death
Couple will undertake eight engagements, including black tie dinner
Diana died in car accidents with boyfriend Dodi Fayed in August 1997

Prince William is to visit Paris for the first time since his mother died in the city when he and the Duchess of Cambridge travel there on an official visit next month.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 29: Princess Diana, Princess of Wales presents Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with a trophy after competing at the Hola Cup Polo, Windsor. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)Their mini-tour, almost 20 years after Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in the French capital, is bound to be an emotional one for the second in line to the throne.

Although his younger brother, Prince Harry, has been to Paris in recent years to attend a rugby match, William, who has always been more reticent to speak about his mother in public, has not been to the city since the accident on August 31 1997.

The couple will spend two days in the city – March 17 and 18 – undertaking around eight engagements during their time there, including a black tie dinner.

It will be seen by some as part of a charm offensive by the British government, who are keen to use the British Royal Family as part of their ‘soft diplomacy’ efforts.

It is understood the duke and duchess will be staying with the British ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, who took up the position back in November.

Princess Diana Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
Princess Diana Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

He lives in a stunning residence, known as the Hotel de Charost, built in 1722-25, and once lived in by Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister.

In 1814 it was bought by the Duke of Wellington, then the newly-appointed British ambassador to France.

Back in 1997 Princess Diana was staying in Paris with her then boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, following a summer holiday to the South of France, while her children were with the Queen at Balmoral.

The couple had taken up residence in a suite at the Ritz, owned by Dodi’s father, Mohamed Al Fayed, when they were killed in a car driven by the hotel’s acting head of security, Henri Paul, who an inquest later found to be drunk and speeding as they entered the Alma Tunnel.

The inquest found he had lost control of the car and crashed into a pillar, killing himself, Diana and Dodi. Only Dodi’s bodyguard survived.

William, who was just 15 when Princess Diana died, initially refused to speak publicly about his mother’s death.

Kate and Diana, 'our 16th-century princesses'
Kate and Diana, ‘our 16th-century princesses’

PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH IN PARIS
Diana arrived in Paris on 30 August 1997 with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed after spending nine days together on his father Mohammed Al-Fayed’s yacht in Sardinia.

They pair dined at the Ritz hotel, owned by Dodi’s father, and left after midnight to travel to an apartment in in Rue Arsène Houssaye, just off the Champs Elysees.

The Ritz’s deputy head of security Henri Paul was tasked with driving a black Mercedes away from the main entrance of the hotel on Place Vendôme to fool the waiting papparazzi, while Diana and Dodi exited via the rear entrance on Rue Cambon.

Trevor Rees-Jones of the Fayed family’s secturity team was driving the couple and took them into the Place de l’Alma underpass.

Photographers pursued them into the underpass and Paul, who was under the influence of alcohol and speeding, lost control of the Mercedes 280S while trying to outrun the press pack and careered into a support pillar.

Henri Paul and Dodi Fayed were killed instantly, but Diana was still alive and was removed from the wreckage

She suffered a cardiac arrest and died in hospital several hours later.

An inquest concluded that Diana’s death was ’caused, or contributed to, by the speed and manner of the driver of the Mercedes and the speed and manner of the following vehicles’.

The Flame of Liberty, a replica of part of the Statue of Liberty, which stands on the Place de l’Alma has become an un

But in recent years he’s been more open, especially after becoming the patron of Child Bereavement UK.

Royals Princess Diana with Prince Harry in London, August 1995 REUTERS
Royals Princess Diana with Prince Harry in London, August 1995 REUTERS

‘Never being able to say the word “Mummy” again in your life sounds like a small thing,’ he revealed.

‘However, for many, including me, it’s now really just a word – hollow and evoking only memories.’

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