, PARIS, Aug 31 – Guy Gerald brought wild flowers from his garden and a poem he wrote for Diana, laying them gently among the mementos dotting a makeshift Paris shrine to the late princess on Friday, 15 years after she died.
The 65-year-old was one of a steady trickle of tourists, well-wishers, and die-hard Diana fans who filed past the site, directly above the underpass where the princess was killed in a car crash alongside her companion Dodi Fayed.
“Unforgettable Diana”, “A life of love,” “Fifteen years already”, read the little notes taped to the base of a local monument, a replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty which Diana fans have adopted as an informal memorial.
Ignoring the din of the traffic rushing into the tunnel under the Alma bridge, just north of the River Seine, visitors from Brazil, South Africa or Canada, bent to read the messages set among pictures and papier mache flowers.
As he has done each year since 1997, Gerald made the two-hour journey from Orleans south of Paris to pay his respects – among a busy jostle of radio and television crews.
“Diana is a figure of inspiration for all of us. She brings me comfort and strength,” smiled the metalworker, who planned to spend four to five hours at the shrine.
“Fifteen years already, time has stood still and so has my heart,” reads the opening of the poem he wrote in her memory. “But for all those who love, time is eternal.”
South African businessman Robbie Teengs and his wife Theresa also set aside the last day of a European tour to pay tribute to Diana.
“It was a shock 15 years ago,” said the 53-year-old ironmongery businessman. “I can remember that night exactly. Harry and William — their kids were the same age as our kids. I woke my wife up, we couldn’t sleep.
“She was taken away hopelessly too soon. I think she meant a hell of a lot, not only to her family but also to the world.