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Diana, 60 Years: How Diana is already remembered


John Mathew Smith/CC/Wikimedia Commons

When Diana, Princess of Wales died tragically in 1997, the loss launched an unparalleled public outpouring of grief. As her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, unveil a new statue in her honour at Kensington Palace, let’s take a look at other memorials to Diana that exist around the world.

THE DIANA MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN – HYDE PARK

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The Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park was officially opened on 7 July 2004 by The Queen.

The oval stone fountain was designed by American landscape artist Kathryn Gustafson, who said that the design was based on the “qualities of the Princess that were the most loved and cherished. These were inclusiveness and accessibility.”

Gustafson added that it would be an “environment that you can walk into, be part of” and that it would feature a “novel use of water, that is brilliant in the sunlight, that cascades down, that you can touch and you can be interactive with and that you can become part of.”

The water flows in two different ways to show the different sides of Diana’s life. One side has a tranquil, flowing path while the other featured curves, steps and other obstacles for the water to flow smoothly.

The Queen was accompanied by Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, and members of the Spencer Family—the first time both families had been together since Diana’s death—to open the memorial at Hyde Park.

In her speech, The Queen said of her late daughter-in-law: “By any standard, Diana’s tragic death held the attention of the world.

“Central to this remains the extraordinary effect Diana had on those around her. Her drive to empathise with those in difficulty, hardship or distress, her willingness to embrace a new cause, her shrewd ability to size up all those she met, allowed her not only to touch people’s lives but to change them.

“This is her wider legacy.”

The Queen called the Memorial Fountain a “highly original memorial which captures something of the essence of a remarkable human being. I think Diana would have enjoyed it; and I believe she would want all of us to do so too.”

THE DIANA MEMORIAL PLAYGROUND – KENSINGTON GARDENS

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The Diana Memorial Playground opened on 30 June 2000 in Kensington Gardens, near where the late royal spent the majority of her adult life. The Royal Parks maintain the Diana Memorial Playground, and describe it as a “fitting tribute for a Princess who loved the innocence of childhood.”

The playground, modified from an existing one themed around Peter Pan, features “a sensory trail, teepees, a beach around the pirate ship and various toys and play sculptures; all set against a lush backdrop of trees and plants.”

Unlike later tributes, no members of the Royal Family attended the official opening of the playground. Earl Spencer attended, but told the press it was not considered a snub, as they had wanted the day to focus on the positive aspects of Diana’s life. Princes William and Harry declined their invitations, and The Queen and Prince Charles were both out of London carrying out engagements at the time.

THE DIANA MEMORIAL WALK – LONDON

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The Diana Memorial Walk is a seven-mile walk that takes visitors on a circular trip to show off places that were important to Diana.

Along the walk, there are 90 plaques in the ground to highlight specific moments in Diana’s life, while the walk itself is a figure-eight pattern that goes by five important buildings in her life: Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, Clarence House, and Spencer House.

The Diana Memorial Walk was opened on the same day as the Diana Memorial Playground, 3 June 2000.

THE WHITE GARDEN – KENSINGTON PALACE

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In 2017, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex officially opened the White Garden at Kensington Palace, a tribute to mark the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death.

Located in the Sunken Garden, it was reportedly one of her favourite places to visit. Historic Royal Palaces wrote about the White Garden that it “was completely re-planted in white flowers for visitors to reflect and celebrate the life of Princess Diana.

“It took inspiration from Princess Diana’s dresses along with the famous Mario Testino photographs of the Princess. The garden continues to follow this peaceful and pastel coloured style to this day which visitors admire and enjoy.”

In November 2017, Harry and Meghan posed for photos at the Sunken Garden after announcing their engagement as a way to keep his late mother in the celebrations.

PLACE DIANA AND THE FLAME OF LIBERTY – PARIS

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Diana has also been memorialised in Paris, near the site of the accident at the Pont de l’Alma in the 16th arrondissement. An unofficial tribute to her memory became the Flame of Liberty, a replica of the torch carried by the Statue of Liberty.

The Flame of Liberty was a gift to France in 1989 by the International Herald Tribune, an English newspaper in France, and placed in the 16th arrondissement as a tribute. After Diana’s death, people began using it as a memorial to Diana, to the point that most people assume it’s an official tribute.

In 2019, the Council of Paris voted to name the area Place Diana in her memory. A government official was quoted in The Telegraph saying, “We decided to rename the square because it had already been claimed on behalf of Diana by Parisians and tourists.”

CLOS DES BLANCS MANTEAUX GARDEN – PARIS

A smaller, yet official, tribute to Diana exists in the 4th arrondissement of Paris: a small garden called the Clos des Blancs Manteaux.

A Parisian tourism website, Paris Info, calls the small garden a of “treasure trove of no fewer than 250 plant species (herbs, spices, medicinal plants etc.) spread throughout this tranquil haven, which remains a relatively little-known spot.”

OTHER TRIBUTES

Diana has also been memorialised in other ways since her death.

The Princess of Wales rose, a white rose, was cultivated in her honour in 1997 by Harkness Roses, a breeder in the UK. Though the rose was created and presented to Diana before her death—as a tribute to her 10th anniversary working with the British Lung Foundation—after her death, the proceeds from the 1998-99 season were donated to the Foundation.

The Diana, Princess of Wales rose was introduced in 1998 by the Jackson & Perkins Company. It is a pink garden blend rose that has ivory petals, and a portion of its early sales were donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. It was not sold in the UK so that there was no competition between it and the Princess of Wales rose.

The Princess Diana Memorial in Austria is the first in the German-speaking world, and is a privately-financed bust of Diana that calls her ‘The Queen of Hearts’ on its plaque. It was presented at Kensington Palace in 2014, though it now resides in a public park in Vienna.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.