As the emotion-addicts of Britain stock up on tissues and flowers for this year's Dianniversary, I am reminded of a bizarre manifestation of business acumen I witnessed in Paris some years ago.
In the mid-nineties, the Spouse and I spent an enjoyable week in a quintessentially Parisian family-run hotel. Situated in a side-street north of the Jardin des Tuileries, it occupied the upper floors of a large 19th-century building. Guests would enter through a shared courtyard and climb the elegant staircase past the dressmaker's atelier on the first floor to arrive at Reception on the second.
In the Spring of 1998, finding myself in Paris on business, I decided to drop in to the hotel and enquire about booking a stay in the near future. The receptionist was apologetic; 'I'm sorry, but we are fully booked'.
I mentioned that we had stayed there a couple of years before and she looked thoughtful. 'I think I should tell you', she said, 'that the prices have gone up a little since then.' And so they had - by at least 50%. I asked her why and she drew aside the net curtain from the window beside her desk. 'Voila!' she said.
Seeing me none the wiser, she helpfully explained. We were looking down on the back door of the Ritz Hotel. Since the death of Princess Diana, the smaller hotel had been inundated with visitors wanting to stay as near as possible to the scene and many of the guests had booked to take the 'Diana Tours' along the route of the car journey.
Even had we wished to pay the inflated prices, the company of grief-tourism ghouls would probably have put us off our breakfast so I thanked the receptionist and left her to preside over the money-making machine that had sprung from the car accident of a few months before.