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Princes William and Harry pay tribute to mother Diana

The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have paid tribute to their late mother Diana, Princess of Wales with a poignant visit to her memorial garden at Kensington Palace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death.

Sheltering from the downpour with umbrellas William and Harry, joined by the Duchess of Cambridge, toured the White Garden, which has been planted in the Princess’s memory to mark two decades since she died.

Fans of Diana, who was killed in a Paris car crash on August 31 1997, have already begun leaving floral tributes and pictures of the Princess at the gates of her former home, Kensington Palace.

The 70-minute long engagement, which will also see them meet with representatives from some of the charities that Diana supported, is bound to be a bittersweet moment for the two brothers.

While they are both keen to use the anniversary of her loss to pay tribute to the princess as a role model and champion of the underprivileged, she was, above and beyond, a devoted mother who never got to see her sons grow into adulthood or meet the grand-children she would no doubt have spoiled rotten. 

Her sons have been speaking candidly about their mother for the first time in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of her death, describing the personal anguish they experienced and the grief they still feel.

Tribute: Sheltering from the downpour, William and Harry, joined by the Duchess of Cambridge, tour the White Garden, which has been planted in the Princess’s memory to mark two decades since she died

Fitting tribute: The garden at Diana's former home is today filled with white flowers and foliage and was inspired by memories of her life, style and image, such as her white 'Elvis' Catherine Walker dress

Fitting tribute: The garden at Diana’s former home is today filled with white flowers and foliage and was inspired by memories of her life, style and image, such as her white ‘Elvis’ Catherine Walker dress

During an interview for an ITV documentary about his mother this summer, Harry said: ‘There’s not a day that William and I don’t wish that she was still around.’

Diana’s charity work, coupled with compassion and empathy for those she met earned her former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s moniker as the ‘people’s princess’.

Her appeal remains undiminished and today she is still widely regarded a British icon of the 20th century.

The princes recently took part in a series of candid interviews about their traumatic loss – with Harry revealing he went through two years of ‘total chaos’ as he struggled to come to terms with his mother’s death before eventually seeking counselling at his brother’s suggestion.

Kate, 35, never met the late Princess of Wales, but during her 2010 engagement interview with William she hailed her an ‘inspirational woman to look up to’ and said she would have loved to have met her.

She told ITV’s Tom Bradby: ‘Obviously to this day and going forward and things, you know it is a wonderful family, the members who I’ve met have achieved a lot and very inspirational and so, yes, I do [think about Diana].’

The garden at Diana’s former home is today filled with white flowers and foliage and was inspired by memories of her life, style and image, such as her white ‘Elvis’ Catherine Walker dress.

Speaking ahead of today's engagement: A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: 'The engagement will allow the Princes to pay tribute to the life and work of their mother the day before the 20th anniversary of her death'

Speaking ahead of today’s engagement: A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: ‘The engagement will allow the Princes to pay tribute to the life and work of their mother the day before the 20th anniversary of her death’

Dressed in a green Prada design, the Duchess of Cambridge shielded from the rain with a large umbrella

Kate never met the Princess but called her an 'inspirational woman' in her 2010 engagement interview

Dressed in a green Prada design, the Duchess of Cambridge shielded from the rain with a large umbrella. Kate never met the Princess but called her an ‘inspirational woman’ in her 2010 engagement interview

On arrival, the royal brothers and Kate were met by head gardener Sean Harkin (far right) and shown some of Diana's favourite flowers. They're also set to meet another gardener who knew Diana from her frequent visits there

On arrival, the royal brothers and Kate were met by head gardener Sean Harkin (far right) and shown some of Diana’s favourite flowers. They’re also set to meet another gardener who knew Diana from her frequent visits there

Fitting tribute: During their visit today, William and Harry will also meet representatives from the charities supported by Diana in the final years of her life, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust, and The Leprosy Mission

Fitting tribute: During their visit today, William and Harry will also meet representatives from the charities supported by Diana in the final years of her life, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust, and The Leprosy Mission

It features white roses, scented narcissi and a carpet of forget-me-nots around the existing Sunken Garden, of which the Princess was particularly fond.

The royal brothers and Kate were met by head gardener Sean Harkin and shown some of Diana’s favourite flowers. They’re also set to meet another gardener who knew Diana from her frequent visits there. 

William and Harry will also meet representatives from the charities supported by Diana in the final years of her life, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust, The Leprosy Mission, Royal Marsden Hospital, English National Ballet and Centrepoint.

A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: ‘The engagement will allow the Princes to pay tribute to the life and work of their mother the day before the 20th anniversary of her death.

‘Together, they will reflect on the significant achievements of the Princess, and the legacy of her work which continues to resonate with so many today.’ 

Among the charity representatives due to meet the Royal Family is Dr Ken Rutherford, a landmine survivor who accompanied Diana on her final trip to Bosnia and now works in the department for political science at James Madison University, US.

Legacy: The garden at Diana's former home is today filled with white flowers and foliage and was inspired by memories of her life, style and image, such as her white 'Elvis' Catherine Walker dress

Legacy: The garden at Diana’s former home is today filled with white flowers and foliage and was inspired by memories of her life, style and image, such as her white ‘Elvis’ Catherine Walker dress

 The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have joined forces to pay tribute to their late mother Diana, Princess of Wales with a poignant visit to her memorial garden at Kensington Palace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death

 The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have joined forces to pay tribute to their late mother Diana, Princess of Wales with a poignant visit to her memorial garden at Kensington Palace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death

‘For me, it is an honour to be part of recognising someone who was so charismatic she actually changed the world,’ he said.

‘And now her sons, in such an uncomplicated way, are connecting the dots of her life and continuing her legacy

‘When I met Prince Harry in April, his first question was: did my mother make a difference? For landmine survivors, she changed everything.’

Ann Chalmers, chief executive of Child Bereavement UK, said: ‘It’s a real honour for Child Bereavement UK to be invited to this special event.

‘Diana, Princess of Wales attended the launch of our charity, helping raise the profile of our work from the outset, and it has been wonderful to have The Duke of Cambridge continue that connection as our Royal Patron.

‘I never had the privilege of meeting the Princess of Wales personally, but was always struck by the depth of her compassion and her incredible ability to relate to people at all levels, whilst shining a light on issues many people instinctively shied away from.’

When the temporary tribute was unveiled in the spring, Mr Harkin recalled how the Princess would take the time to talk to the workers who cared for the sunken garden.

‘They remember Princess Diana coming by and she would stop and she would admire the changing floral displays in the garden,’ he said.

‘And we change them over in springtime and in summer, so it can look quite different. And she would stop and she would have a chat with the gardeners and comment on all their hard work.’

Neither William nor Harry are expected to take part in any official engagements on the anniversary of their mother’s death on Thursday.

It is also understood Prince Charles, who was seen driving himself to church yesterday, will not take part in any engagements as he continues his annual break at Birkhall, his home in the Scottish Highlands.

The Queen and other royals are holidaying at nearby Balmoral, where the family were told of Diana’s death on August 31, 1997. 

Diana’s former bodyguard pays his respects 

Diana’s former bodyguard Ken Wharfe also visited Kensington Palace to pay his respects to the late Princess. The personal protection officer attended the Palace gates to see the flowers and read well-wisher cards left by mourners.

Inspector Wharfe was in charge of round-the-clock security at home and abroad between 1987 and 1993 and blamed bodyguards for her death.

Dressed in a suit and tie the bodyguard, who looked pensive as he looked at photos, refused to chat about the Princess and stayed only for a short while outside the Palace.

Despite the rain dozens of well-wishers held back tears as they huddled around the gates and shared stories of the icon.

Natalie Featherstone, 19, from Maidstone, Kent, said: ‘It is nice to remember and for everyone to come together to remember such a wonderful person. It’s amazing to see that people have laid flowers and that she is not forgotten.

Tributes for the Princess: Ken Wharfe also visited Kensington Palace to pay his respects to the late Princess. The personal protection officer attended the Palace gates to see the flowers and read well-wisher cards left by mourners

Tributes for the Princess: Ken Wharfe also visited Kensington Palace to pay his respects to the late Princess. The personal protection officer attended the Palace gates to see the flowers and read well-wisher cards left by mourners

‘Even though I wasn’t born we all know what happened and we all feel the same feelings towards her, she was a huge part of everyone’s life. I feel like I know her through the media and through books and through my family’s emotions, we can all feel it.’

Debbie Day, 51, from Luton, Bedfordshire, wiped tears from her eyes as she laid flowers at the gate.

She said: ‘My son Aaron is 20 and I was heavily pregnant on the morning that I heard she had died. I have never been here and I follow her boys on the TV, I felt that I needed to come here today I feel so close to her and her family.

‘She was so pretty and she did a lot for people and especially children, she was so special. She was glamorous, a real people person. I have tried to teach my family about her and we have books at home.

‘I would have come down here when she died but I was pregnant, she was a normal woman and you could relate to her, she would have been so proud of her boys if she were alive.’

A moment of reflection: Dressed in a suit and tie ,the bodyguard, who looked pensive as he looked at photos, refused to chat about the Princess

He stayed only for a short while outside the Palace

A moment of reflection: Dressed in a suit and tie ,the bodyguard, who looked pensive as he looked at photos, refused to chat about the Princess and stayed only for a short while outside the Palace

Ingrid Cook, 69, from Richmond, Surrey, has visited Kensington Palace on the anniversary of Diana’s death almost every year.

She said: ‘I loved Diana and I have come to see the boys too, I have come here almost every year since she died.

‘I loved everything about her and she was an amazing mother. We are going to come back tomorrow to bring some flowers.’

Mum-of-three Sarah Wareham, 46, of Sidcup, south-east London, said: ‘We have come down to see Diana especially to see the Diana exhibition and I wanted to show the children what a wonderful lady she was.

‘She opened up the Royal Family for everyone, we know so much more about them now. After 20 years everyone still remembers her and all the people she helped, especially the children. We are all touched by the things that she did.’

Paula Conte, 53, from New York, said: ‘We have always loved the Princess in the US and we were the same age when she died. She was so beloved and did so much good for people, I didn’t realise there would be a memorial here, it is so incredible we can all remember her together.’

Tributes to Diana are piling up outside the gates of Kensington Palace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death. Hundreds of mourners decked the palace entrance in postcards, flowers and posters ahead of the princes' arrival

Tributes to Diana are piling up outside the gates of Kensington Palace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death. Hundreds of mourners decked the palace entrance in postcards, flowers and posters ahead of the princes’ arrival

Tomorrow marks 20 years since the Princess' tragic death in a car accident in Paris left the nation stunned and grief-stricken. Despite the rain dozens of well-wishers held back tears as they huddled around the gates and shared stories of the icon 

Tomorrow marks 20 years since the Princess’ tragic death in a car accident in Paris left the nation stunned and grief-stricken. Despite the rain dozens of well-wishers held back tears as they huddled around the gates and shared stories of the icon 

Today Diana's sons were joined by the Duchess of Cambridge for a tour of the White Garden, which has been planted in Diana's memory. William and Harry are not expected to take part in any official engagements on the anniversary of her death

Today Diana’s sons were joined by the Duchess of Cambridge for a tour of the White Garden, which has been planted in Diana’s memory. William and Harry are not expected to take part in any official engagements on the anniversary of her death

‘Our mother was a ray of light in a grey world’ 

Princess Diana’s sons spoke publicly for the first time this summer in two candid television interviews about their traumatic loss which took place 20 years ago this week.

The second programme, broadcast on the BBC last weekend, was the last time they will publicly discuss their torment, according to aides.

In it, William said his mother was a ‘ray of light in a grey world’.

Diana, 7 Days gave the behind-the scenes story of the week before her funeral and featured some of the major figures at the time including former prime minister Tony Blair and senior royal aides.

The documentary, made by US director Henry Singer, also saw the princes speak about their emotions at the time. Harry revealed the best lesson his mother taught her sons was ‘be yourself in everything you do and give as much as you can’. 

William and Harry will draw a line under their mother’s death and turn their focus to continuing her legacy of charity work. Pictured is Prince William during Diana, 7 Days

The documentary saw Prince Harry Harry praised his father’s bravery in breaking the news to him and his brother at the time, adding: ‘He was going through the same grieving process as well’

William and Harry will draw a line under their mother’s death and turn their focus to continuing her legacy of charity work following their two candid television interviews about Diana this summer. Pictured is Prince William, left, and Harry during Diana, 7 Days

He told the cameras: ‘It’s never going to be easy for the two of us to talk about our mother, but 20 years on seems like a good time to remind people of the difference that she made, not just to the Royal Family, but also to the world.

‘If I can be even a fraction of what she was, I will be proud and hopefully make her proud.’

In the documentary William also said that at the time he could not understand why the public were ‘crying and wailing’ when ‘they didn’t really know’ his mother.

But he added: ‘Looking back, I have learned to understand what it was she gave the world and what she gave a lot of people.’

Flowers and cards were this week continuing to be left at the gates of Kensington Palace, which in 1997 was turned into a sea of tributes amid a national outpouring of grief as the nation came to terms with the Princess of Wales' untimely death (above)

Flowers and cards were this week continuing to be left at the gates of Kensington Palace, which in 1997 was turned into a sea of tributes amid a national outpouring of grief as the nation came to terms with the Princess of Wales’ untimely death (above)

In the hour-and-a-half BBC film, which aired last weekend, the brothers praised the Queen, who faced an unprecedented public backlash for staying at Balmoral with them in the days following the crash - with William suggesting she felt 'very torn'

In the hour-and-a-half BBC film, which aired last weekend, the brothers praised the Queen, who faced an unprecedented public backlash for staying at Balmoral with them in the days following the crash – with William suggesting she felt ‘very torn’

Neither William nor Harry are expected to take part in any official engagements on the anniversary of their mother’s death on Thursday. The boys are pictured with their grandfather, uncle and father during her funeral procession on September 6 1997

Neither William nor Harry are expected to take part in any official engagements on the anniversary of their mother’s death on Thursday. The boys are pictured with their grandfather, uncle and father during her funeral procession on September 6 1997

Charles has faced renewed criticism in the run up to the anniversary of his ex-wife’s death in a Paris car crash. But Harry praised his father’s bravery in breaking the news to him and his brother at the time, adding: ‘He was going through the same grieving process as well.’

In the hour-and-a-half BBC film, the brothers praised the Queen, who faced an unprecedented public backlash for staying at Balmoral with them in the days following the crash.

William said: ‘I think it was a very hard decision for my grandmother to make. She felt very torn between being a grandmother to William and Harry and her Queen role.’

After the programme aired, thousands of people took to Twitter to praise the Princes as well as reveal they had been left ‘in tears’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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