P is for Pont D’Alma, in Paris, France.
11 years ago today I was in Paris, hanging about the Pont’ D’Alma bridge and tunnel, on assignment to cover the one year anniversary of the sorry saga that was Princess Diana’s death one year before.
I’d be sent over by my agency to shoot a variety of images concerned with the whole event, images of the hospital, the tunnel, the Ritz, Dodi’s apartment, all of it. All of it was a bit mundane, not much you can do with the outside of a hospital.
But the tunnel was to be the highlight. One year on. There was a bunch of snappers, and a bigger bunch of mourning Parisians and tourists, and an even bigger bunch of bystanders, gawping. Above the tunnel stands the Flamme De La Liberte, a monument of the flame from the top of the Statue of Liberty, a statue totally unconnected to drunk driving and high speed scooters, but now a flame adopted by the Princess Di RIP hordes.
During the day of the anniversary people lingered, lay flowers in their cheap cellophane wrappers on top of pictures distorted by the elements. But night was always going to be the highlight, the Eiffel tower lit up, the Flamme lit up, street lights galore, Parisians in their finest.
And so it was, all lit up, people lingering, laying of more flowers. But all in all it was photographically dull. Not much happened. Not much to make a picture. The Eiffel Tower helped but it was far away, not at a great angle to the Flamme. It was hard.
Some snappers debated going down the tunnel, not to escape, but to photograph the 13th pillar, or was it the 11th ? I forget. But the tunnel was open for business, and it was fast business. Even without screaming scooters and French snappers, the cars were driving fast. The tunnel was bright, but so were the headlights. I didn’t fancy it. I refrained.
And then late in the evening, with some snappers already having drifted away, a guy arrives with a plastic carrier bag. And he opens it up, standing the contents of the bag around the flowers at the base of the Flamme. All of a sudden it was game on, and it all got a bit bizarre.
Out came a cigarette lighter. And then there was light. On top of Princess Diana’s head. All of them. All around the base of the Flamme were little wax effigies of Princess Di, with petite flammes coming out of her head, and the wax dripping down her face, all over her pretty little dresses.