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William and Harry pay tribute to mother Diana at new memorial garden

On eve of anniversary of princesss death, sons remember her in Kensington Palace garden planted with her favourite flowers

The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have paid tribute to their mother on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death, amid scented roses and other favourite flowers in a memorial White Garden at Kensington Palace, planted earlier this year for the landmark milestone.

Alongside the Duchess of Cambridge, the two princes sheltered under umbrellas as they toured the garden designed in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, for about an hour.

Examining the floral tributes, photographs and candles left on the gates of Kensington Palace, her former home and the scene of a sea of bouquets immediately following her death, they read messages left by well-wishers.

Harry told representatives from charities supported by the late princess: All of us lost somebody.

Kensington Palace said the visit allowed the princes to pay tribute to the life and work of their mother the day before the 20th anniversary of her death.

In contrast to 10 years ago, when a memorial service was attended by the Queen, senior royals and 500 others at the Guards Chapel at Wellington barracks near Buckingham Palace, Wednesdays tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, was simple and personal.

There was no public event as her sons chose a small private service to mark her birth, not her death on 1 July to rededicate her grave, which is on a private island in an ornamental lake at the Spencer familys ancestral home at Althorp House, Northamptonshire. It was attended by the Spencer family, William, Kate and Harry and the Cambridges children, George and Charlotte. It was officiated by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Nothing else about the 20th anniversary has been understated, however. Recent weeks have seen daily newspaper headlines, old controversies raked over, and many TV tributes as Dianamania once more sweeps the country. Diana, as the royal biographer Sarah Bradford accurately predicted two decades ago, has haunted the royals more inescapably, perhaps, in death than if she had lived happily ever after.

The 20th anniversary has seen key figures caught up in the tumultuous moment in history speaking in often painful detail for the first time. Crucially, these have included William and Harry, who decided 20 years on was an appropriate time to bare their emotional souls.

They said to me they had never spoken about it before, theyre asked about it all the time, and they wanted to speak about it once and once only, said the US film-maker Henry Singer, whose Diana, 7 Days was broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday, and saw the princes articulate the grief, shock and bewilderment they experienced at the time with extraordinary candour.

Of the significance of the 20th anniversary, Singer said: Ten years feels a little raw. Certainly Dianas sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lord Jay, British ambassador in Paris when Diana died in the car crash on 31 August 1997, would not have spoken sooner, he believed. People like that, if approached after 10 years, my guess is they would have said no.

Diana
Diana in June 1997. Photograph: Jamal A. Wilson/AFP/Getty Images

Alison Kirkham, controller of BBC factual commissioning, who approached Kensington Palace about the princes involvement, said: We very strongly got the sense that what was important for [the princes] now was to protect her memory, and her legacy, and lay it down for history and preserve it for history. She thought the princes felt after 20 years, enough time had elapsed for them to be able to talk about it with some perspective and then not have to talk about it again.

This was the moment, because something would either be lost to history or committed to history and for some of those who agreed to speak, it was a question of if we dont speak now, when will we speak? Kirkham, executive producer of the film, said.

The White Garden and the commissioning of a new statue of their mother are the two main memorials chosen by William and Harry.

The garden, inspired by memories of her life, style and image, such as her white Elvis Catherine Walker dress, features white roses, lilies, gladioli and cosmos around the existing Sunken Garden at her former home, of which the princess was particularly fond. Open since spring, it will continue into September.

Reminiscing about the avalanche of tributes that stretched from the gates of Kensington Palace in 1997, William pointed the difference out to Harry, saying: Last time it was all the way down. They talked to some of the several hundred well-wishers who braved Wednesdays rain bringing their own floral tributes, and placed them for the fans alongside others already laid.

Earlier, the brothers and the Duchess of Cambridge met with representatives from charities supported by Diana, including the Royal Marsden and Great Ormond Street hospitals, the National Aids Trust, the Centrepoint youth homelessness charity and the Leprosy Mission.

The statue, commissioned by the princes, will be erected in the grounds of Kensington Palace at some date in the future. Announcing the artwork in January, William and Harry said: It has been 20 years since our mothers death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue.

Our mother touched so many lives. We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy. McCorquodale is a member of the six-strong committee which has been tasked with commissioning and privately raising funds for the creation of the statue.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/30/william-harry-remember-princess-diana-memorial-garden-kensington-palace

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