William and Kate to make poignant visit to Paris


The Wales family has a big year ahead, with a new home and new schools for the children
The Wales family has a big year ahead, with a new home and new schools for the children
Twenty years after his mother Diana's death in the city, Prince William returns to Paris

Prince William and his wife Kate are visiting Paris next week, but there will be no public visit to places associated with the last days of his mother, Princess Diana.

Diana died in a Paris hospital after a car crash on 31 August 1997 – 20 years ago.

While she will undoubtedly be on William’s mind, the 17-18 March visit is more about shaking hands and building relationships.

William and Kate will use their so-called “soft power” to help Britain’s agenda for the here-and-now.

The British Foreign Office is sending the couple to the French capital to cement ties as Britain is preparing to leave the European Union. They will follow the Paris tour with a visit to Germany and Poland in July with a similar goal in mind.

Kate will, no doubt, fly the British fashion flag as well. There will be opportunities to do so, particularly at a black-tie dinner at the British ambassador’s residence. 

They will also underscore the solidarity Britain and the rest of the world felt for France as it was shaken by terrorist attacks in November 2015 at the Bataclan theatre, several restaurants and the Stade de France in the north of Paris, and in July 2016 in Nice.

William and Kate are to visit victims and first responders from those attacks and host a reception for young French leaders. 

The visit will end with the couple in the stands to watch the France-England Six Nations rugby match at the Stade de France.

The July trip will be both William and Kate’s first visit to Poland. There’s been no indication whether their children will join them.

He travelled to Germany last August, when crowds reportedly waited for two hours in blazing heat for his arrival. Then, as he will later in the year, William emphasised the depth of England’s alliance with Germany, in spite of Brexit.

After the trip, the royal family will move from their 10-bedroom Norfolk country home, Anmer Hall, to Kensington Palace’s apartment 1A, where they’ve spent north of $9m remodelling its 30 rooms, including nine bathrooms.

Prince George will attend a new school in London, and the couple are looking into local preschools for Princess Charlotte.

The family is also strengthening its security team and planting conifer trees in a 250m-long wall around Kensington Palace for extra privacy.

Meanwhile, Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell is to marry his partner, lawyer Graham Cooper, next month, after divorcing Maria, his wife of 32 years.

Burrell, once described by Diana as her “rock”, runs a flower shop in Cheshire. Maria and their two adult sons have lived in Florida for some years.


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