LONDON – Princes William and Harry on Wednesday visited a memorial garden dedicated to Princess Diana to pay tribute to their mother’s charity work on the eve of the 20 anniversary of her death.
The royals, accompanied by William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, huddled under umbrellas in the pouring rain as they strolled through the Sunken Garden, which is planted with white flowers and dedicated to the princess at her former home, where she once would stroll by and ask the gardeners about their ever-changing displays.
William and Harry, who have both promised to carry on their mother’s charity work, chatted animatedly with representatives from groups that Diana supported.
The princes then left the palace grounds to meet with members of the public, who braved the rain for hours for a chance to share memories of Diana with her sons.
The weeks before the anniversary of Diana’s death have been met with reflection in Britain as the public remembers “the people’s princess” and considers her contributions to the country and the monarchy.
Many brought flowers, which the princes gathered and laid in front of the black and gold gates of Kensington Palace.
The flowers added to a fast-growing collection of items, including flags, burning candles and photographs, hanging on the gates to remember Diana.
“I still get upset, I can’t even watch the funeral, it just brings it all back. It really upsets us and no, the feelings haven’t diminished and she’s too much of an important person to forget about,” said Maria Scott, 46, who was among those waiting for the princes at the palace gates.
Fans from as far as Australia have posted homemade signs with messages — one read “Her work carries on through her loving sons,” while another said “20 years on and we still miss you.”
William and Harry stopped to admire the public’s makeshift memorial, smiling while pointing at photos of their mother and reading fans’ messages from around the world.
The 36-year-old princess died in the early hours of Aug. 31, 1997. Her Mercedes, pursued by paparazzi, crashed into a concrete pillar in the Alma Tunnel in Paris while traveling at more than 60 mph (100 kph).
Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their driver Henri Paul were all killed. Her bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was injured but lived.