White garden to commemorate death of Diana, Princess of Wales
A NEW memorial garden at Kensington Palace marking two decades since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales is to be called The White Garden.
The floral tribute will be planted with white roses, scented narcissi and a carpet of forget me nots around the existing Sunken Garden at the princess's former home – where her sons Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge and her grandchildren Prince George and Princess Charlotte now live.
Kensington Palace is also staging a new exhibition, which opens in February – Diana: Her Fashion Story – and charts the evolution of the Princess's style.
Highlights will include the pale pink Emanuel blouse with large bow she chose for her engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon in 1981, and the Victor Edelstein ink blue velvet gown, which she famously wore to the White House when she danced with John Travolta in 1985.
William and Harry have been following the plans for the exhibition and temporary garden where the flowers and foliage have been inspired by memories of the princess's life, style and image.
The garden, which will be open to the public, will be installed for the spring and summer of 2017 – commemorating 20 years since the princess died in a Paris car crash when William was 15 and Harry just 12.
A spokeswoman for Historic Royal Palaces said: "The duke and Prince Harry have been supportive. They've seen the plans."
The Sunken Garden, which is more than 100 years old, was chosen as the site of the memorial by head gardener Sean Harkin after he learned that the princess would often stop to talk to the gardeners who cared for it.
"A lot of our gardeners have been here a long time and they remember the princess and how she particularly liked this sunken garden. It was somewhere she used to pass by and have a chat with the gardeners and ask about what they were planting. She took a lot of interest in it," the HRP spokeswoman said.
Mr Harkin said he was looking forward to creating it. "We hope to capture the energy and spirit which made (the princess) such a popular figure around the world," he said.
The Sunken Garden, which was first planted in 1908 and based on a similar one at Hampton Court Palace, is terraced with paving and ornamental flower beds, surrounding a pond with fountains formed from reused 18th century water cisterns retrieved from the palace.
It is usually home to vibrant colours and exotic planting from April to October.
But for the White Garden, it will feature "an elegant palette of tulips and scented narcissi through a carpet of forget me nots" in the spring, followed by more "exuberant planting" in the summer with ornamental grasses, cosmos daisies and gaura – also known as whirling butterflies for looking like butterflies flitting in the breeze.
Diana was synonymous with the west London palace and mourners flocked to the residence in the aftermath of her death in 1997 to leave a mass of flowers.
Replacing the popular Fashion Rules exhibition in the palace's Pigott Gallery, Diana: Her Fashion Story will display 26 of the princess's outfits from her public life including glamorous evening gowns from the 1980s and chic Catherine Walker suits from her working wardrobe of the 1990s.
A blue tartan Emanuel suit, worn for an official visit to Venice in the 1980s, will go on display in public for the first time. It was recently rediscovered and bought by Historic Royal Palaces at auction. The debutante dress she wore when she was 19 will also be on show.
Curator Eleri Lynn said: "Our exhibition explores the story of a young woman who had to quickly learn the rules of royal and diplomatic dressing, who in the process put the spotlight on the British fashion industry and designers.
"We see her growing in confidence throughout her life, increasingly taking control of how she was represented, and intelligently communicating through her clothes.
"This is a story many women around the world can relate to, and we hope many visitors will join us next year, to get a closer look at some of Diana's most iconic outfits, on display in her former home."
n Fashion Story will open at Kensington Palace on February 24 2017. The White Garden will be in bloom at the beginning of April.