Thursday, September 28, 2017

Memorial Garden for Princess Diana

Kensington Gardens

Hello! You may be wondering where I have been and I hope you will forgive me for a very long hiatus. The reason for my absence is some happy family news: a new granddaughter (I now have two!) and a daughter who just got engaged. It's been a busy and wonderful summer. Now that it's fall  I am back at my blog and thought the first post should be about Kensington Gardens. It seemed like a good time to write about my visit last May in light of all the films and articles about Princess Diana on the 20th-anniversary of her death.

Kensington Palace is where Diana lived from the time of her marriage to Prince Charles until her death in 1997. And those gates are where all the flowers were laid -- more than a million bouquets -- in the days following her death. It just so happened that the day we visited was extraordinarily beautiful, one of those gorgeous English days with the bluest sky and huge fluffy white clouds. Prior to this our weather had been gray and chilly. We were delighted to be out and about looking at gardens on such a stunning day.

Kensington Gardens is adjacent to Kensington Park which is where we started our walk. Everyone in London seemed to be out that day enjoying the lovely weather. The statue in the distance is of Queen Victoria who also lived at Kensington Palace. We walked through these beautiful grounds and felt invigorated by the gorgeous sky and green parkland.

The historic sunken garden at Kensington Gardens is deservedly famous. The beds of flowers glimpsed through eye-catching arches cut out of the hedges are a treat to see. It's truly such a serene and inspiring place. And this year a white garden was planted in honor of Princess Diana. It closes at the end of this month and I am so happy to have made it to London in time to see this beautiful and moving tribute to Diana.

The gardeners planted white flowers and foliage including roses, scented narcissi and a carpet of forget-me-nots around the existing sunken garden.

They recalled that she was particularly fond of the sunken garden and would often come by to chat with them and admire the changing floral displays.

The white flowers really stood out in this beautiful setting and reminded me of the beauty and elegance of Princess Diana.

Looking through one of the hedged arches lining the perimeter

I enjoyed reading the articles and watching the documentaries about Princess Diana that came out last month. I also watched the film "The Queen" starring Helen Mirren which was about Diana's death and the response or lack of response by the Royal Family. I learned that she was complicated and flawed, filled with insecurity and anxiety, but that's what made her so relatable and real. She was the "people's princess" and is credited with modernizing the monarchy. One thing that was undeniable: she had star power. She was beautiful, photogenic and glamorous. I admired the way she used her celebrity to champion causes that benefited the marginalized, such as people suffering from aids in the early years. I'll never forget the photo of her holding hands with an aids patient and not wearing gloves. I think she would have loved the white garden planted in her honor at Kensington Palace. A garden by its very nature is ephemeral and the fact that it won't last forever made the seeing of it all the more special. Of all the memorials to Diana this may have been the most meaningful.

I would love to know if you got a chance to see this lovely tribute to Princess Diana!