The Flame of Liberty in Paris is a life-size replica of the Statue of Liberty’s iconic fire and this continuation of the handshake of friendship between France and the United States has also become a de facto memorial to the death of Princess Diana.
Erected in 1986, the 12-foot metal fire is made of copper covered in actual gold leaf. Donated to the city by the International Herald Tribune, the flame officially commemorates not only the paper’s hundredth year of business but also acts as a token of thanks to France itself for some restorative metalwork that the country had provided to the actual Statue of Liberty. Even with the air of global familiarity emanating from the sculpture like heat from a flame, the site has taken on a grimmer association in recent years.
When Diana, Princess of Wales was tragically killed in a 1997 car accident in the tunnel underneath the Flame of Liberty, it quickly became a focal point for mourning citizens to leave small tokens and pictures and such. While the most elaborate and far-reaching roadside memorials were constructed shortly after her death, the tradition still survives with a more reserved display and fresh flowers. Despite the explanatory plaque, most who come upon the flame today think it was purpose-built as a memorial to the beloved princess.