Over the years, Prince William has made several trips to Paris in the past, but his visit to the City of Light this weekend will be his most poignant yet. William, whose mother Diana, Princess of Wales was tragically killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997, is making his first official visit to the French capital in his capacity as a senior royal. He will be supported by his wife Kate on their debut two-day Parisian tour.
The couple have a jam-packed schedule, starting with a reception and black tie dinner hosted by Her Majesty's ambassador and a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace. They will also watch the Wales vs France Six Nations match. A meeting with the victims and first responders from the Bataclan and Nice attacks is also one of the engagements in their varied itinerary.
The focus of William and Kate's visit, which has been arranged at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is very much on the special relationship between France and a post-Brexit Britain. But the fleeting visit will no doubt resonate with the future King, who is marking his mother's death anniversary in August. HELLO!'s royal correspondent Emily Nash said: "Although William has visited Paris several times since the death of his mother, this is his first official trip there on behalf of the Government. While his and Kate's visit is very much about boosting UK-French relations, it will also be a poignant one, coming in Diana's 20th anniversary year."
William and Kate will not be carrying out engagements linked to the late People's Princess, but they will be guests of honour at the British Ambassador's Residence, much like Diana and Prince Charles were in 1988. Emily added: "Although they won't visit any sites linked to her death, they will be following in Princess Diana's footsteps at Friday night's dinner at the British Ambassador's Residence, where she and Prince Charles were guests on a royal visit to Paris in November 1988."
William was just 15 when his mother was killed in a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in central Paris. Over the years, both the Duke and his younger brother Prince Harry have become more vocal about their mother's death. Earlier this year, during a visit to the Child Bereavement UK Centre in London, William comforted a grieving girl, Aoife, nine, who had lost her dad.
"Do you know what happened to me? You know I lost my mummy when I was very young," said the Prince. "I was 15 and my brother was 12. So we lost our mummy when we were young as well. Do you speak about your daddy? It's very important to talk about it, very, very important." Later speaking to a grieving boy Shinobi Irons, 12, who had lost his grandmother and godmother, William admitted that he was "very angry" when Princess Diana died.
Prince Harry, who was a pre-teen when he lost his mother, has also said in the past that he "buried" his emotions after Diana's shock death. Appearing in an ITV documentary, Harry said: "I never really dealt with what had happened. It was a lot of buried emotion. For a huge part of my life I didn't really want to think about it."
He added: "I now view life very differently from what it used to be. I used to bury my head in the sand, and let everything around you tear you to pieces. I was fighting the system, going: 'I don't want to be this person.' My mother died when I was very, very young and I don't want to be in this position. Now I'm so energized, fired up, to be lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference."