World commemorates 20th anniversary of Diana’s death
Diana’s sons have paid tribute to their mother on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death. Princes William and Harry met representatives from charities she supported in the White Garden of Kensington Palace.
Princes William and Harry paid a quiet tribute to their mother Diana on Wednesday, a day before the 20th anniversary of her death that has reignited interest in one of the world’s most famous women.
Diana’s two sons met representatives of the charities she supported in a public garden at Kensington Palace, their home and where their mother lived until she was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
TRT World’s Simon McGregor-Wood reports.
Outside the palace gates supporters of the royal family gathered in the rain to mark the occasion, with many praising Diana’s sons for keeping her in the public memory.
“Everyone remembers where they were the day she died, and when they heard about it,” said 74-year-old Nancy Purinton, on holiday with her husband from the United States. “It was pretty dramatic.”
Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry look at flowers and tributes left in memory of the late Diana Spencer at the gates of her former residence Kensington Palace in London, Britain, August 30, 2017. (Reuters)
Sheltering under umbrellas, William, Harry and Kate took a tour of the renamed White Garden, which has been transformed temporarily with white English roses and forget-me-nots planted earlier this year.
The palace’s head gardener and a gardener who knew Diana from her frequent visits to the spot, usually known as the Sunken Garden, explained the design and pointed out some of the princess’s favourite plants.
Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry visit the White Garden in Kensington Palace in London. (Reuters)
The gathering follows weeks of renewed interest in Diana, the first wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles. She has once again become front page news with new revelations about her life and a raft of TV documentaries to mark the anniversary.
Previous anniversaries of her death have passed with little fuss, suggesting that the “People’s Princess,” as she was dubbed by then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, had perhaps lost some of her allure and relevance.
But with the popular William and Harry coming to the fore, the 20th anniversary has sparked a re-examination of the role Diana played in Britain and the royal family, from her lavish wedding in 1981 to her bitter divorce.
Death in 1997
Diana died in a car crash in Paris in the early hours of August 31, 1997, along with Dodi Fayed, her wealthy Egyptian film producer boyfriend of two months, and a drink-impaired, speeding driver Henri Paul, who was trying to evade paparazzi.
No public events are planned for Thursday.
People look at flowers and tributes in memory of the late Princess Diana at the gates of her former residence Kensington Palace in London. (Reuters)
The tributes outside Kensington Palace were nothing like the sea of flowers laid in the week between her death and her funeral: an outpouring of national grief that commentators are still grappling with.
William and Harry have spoken of struggling to comprehend the “alien” wave of public mourning among people who didn’t know their mother, at a time when they, aged 15 and 12, could not process their loss.
A picture of late Princess Diana is displayed at the bottom of the Liberty Flame monument at the Place de l’Alma in Paris. (Reuters)
Britain, the nation of the stiff upper lip, was now wailing and hurling flowers at a hearse.
The princes have also been increasingly willing to speak about the trauma of her death and its lasting impact.
“I’m glad that they’ve finally loosened up a little bit to talk about her and how really hard it was for them,” Purinton said of the princes. “I think they were ‘stiff upper lip’ for so long and now they’re able to talk about it, which I think helps other people if they’re grieving.”
A woman leaves flowers in memory of the late Princess Diana on the gates of her former residence Kensington Palace in London. (Reuters)
“I was here the first time around,” Alexia McDonald, 54 and a full-time carer, said. “We were similar age … (I remember) seeing the fairytale wedding. She was my generation and I just felt a connection.
“I felt I needed to pay my respects to Diana.”
Outside the palace on Wednesday, Britons again left flowers, photographs and messages attached to the front gates, although in far fewer numbers than immediately after her death.
After touring the garden, the princes met representatives from causes Diana had supported, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust and The Leprosy Mission.
On Thursday, they will reflect on their mother’s life in private.