Diana aura still captivates, 20 years on

Well-wishers holding a cake in front of tributes at Kensington Palace for Princess Diana on Tuesday.
Well-wishers holding a cake in front of tributes at Kensington Palace for Princess Diana on Tuesday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Candles, bouquets of flowers and pictures from well- wishers have already been mounting up at the gates of Kensington Palace to mark the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, while hardcore fans have turned up with a cake bearing her picture.

"She was this ray of light in a fairly grey world," Prince William said of his mother, whose death two decades ago today shocked the world.

"I still feel that love, I still feel that warmth 20 years on," her elder son said in a new documentary marking the anniversary.

"If I can be even a fraction of what she was, I'll be proud."

Princes William and Harry were to pay tribute to their mother yesterday.

They were to meet representatives of the charities Diana supported, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust and The Leprosy Mission, at Kensington Palace, the princes' current home and their mother's residence until she was killed in a car crash on Aug 31, 1997.

In a sign of Diana's fading legacy, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, a charity set up in the days after her death, shut down in 2012 after spending £112 million on charitable causes.

But one charity - The Diana Award - strives to maintain her legacy among young people, giving annual prizes to impressive youths and organising mentoring schemes for others.

Around the anniversary, fresh revelations about her life and a raft of television documentaries have also sprung up.

William and Harry contributed to some of the documentaries to honour her memory, but are otherwise marking the occasion more discreetly than in previous years.

Today, they will reflect on their mother's life in private.

Yesterday, they were to take a tour of one of Kensington Palace's public gardens, transformed temporarily in memory of Diana.

White English roses and forget-me-nots were planted in the area, renamed the White Garden, in tribute to the princess.

The palace's head gardener and a gardener who knew Diana from her frequent visits to the spot, usually known as the Sunken Garden, would explain the design and point out some of the princess' favourite plants.

Outside the palace, Britons left flowers of their own on Tuesday. Photographs and messages had been attached to its front gates as the public paid their respects, although in far fewer numbers than immediately after her death.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Diana aura still captivates, 20 years on'. Print Edition | Subscribe