The Costa del Sol is certainly grateful to tourism and its foreign guests. Over recent years, Torremolinos has commemorated famous personalities who helped boost the resort's fame.
The huge portraits of Brigitte Bardot, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner are depicted on some buildings in the town. Last week, Torremolinos said it is to name one of its central parks after Finland, to highlight the significance of Finns for local tourism.
For 23 years the Costa del Sol has had a small park named after another foreign holidaymaker - Princess Diana. It was inaugurated on 28 August 1998 by the Mijas mayor almost the year after her tragic death.
Mijas Costa (apparently along with Benahavís) is the place that Lady Di visited on the Costa del Sol. Officially, the Princess of Wales came quite close to the Costa del Sol at least twice. Both times were during her happiest and unhappiest moments in her relationship with Prince Charles.
On 1 August 1981, twenty-year-old Diana flew with her husband prince and landed in Gibraltar to embark on the Royal Yacht Britannia and set sail for their honeymoon cruise. And in 1992, Diana and Charles visited the Andalusian capital for the Expo. In Seville Lady Di was already unhappy; it was that year when the couple's so-called "amicable separation" was announced.
Besides those trips, Diana visited Spain quite often for holidays - as a couple with Charles and also alone. There are lots of photos of the young British royals with their children spending holidays in Mallorca. In August 1986, the Spanish king and queen, Juan Carlos and Sofía, invited Charles and Diana to their island residence, the Marivent Palace. Then they even returned in the summers of 1987, 1988 and 1990.
Alone (without her spouse but it appears with two friends) Diana was on the Costa del Sol on holiday, in 1994. In that period Diana was what we would now call a "trending topic"- between separation and divorce. That visit was marked by intrusive Spanish paparazzi who, at the luxurious Byblos hotel in Mijas (where Diana was staying), installed a kind of bunker in two rooms to get the best shot. It is believed they managed to take quite intimate photos of Diana, however the material never saw the light.
Millions of people, however, saw the new bio-musical about the dazzling and devastating life of Princess Diana last week. While the next episodes of The Crown were being filmed in Marbella (where they are recreating scenes in which Princess Diana enjoyed romantic moments with the businessman Dodi Al-Fayed), Netflix was preparing to show Diana: The Musical, prior to its stage debut. Her life journey from wide-eyed 19-year-old through her divorce from Prince Charles was depicted in music and lyrics.
Now, in 2021, the year she would have been 60, Diana is in the spotlight again.
This year saw the start of the rebirth of the aforementioned Byblos hotel in Mijas, after being closed for a decade. Maybe the refurbished iconic hotel, when it reopens in spring next year, could somehow reflect that visit by Diana; because the park with hens and rabbits in Riviera del Sol (Calahonda) named in her honour is too impersonal and dull for such an attractive personality as Lady Di.