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Last Updated Saturday January 20 2018 11:05 AM IST

British princes mark 20th anniversary of Diana's death with garden visit

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British princes mark anniversary of Diana's death with garden visit Britain's Princess Diana holds Prince Harry | Photo: Reuters

London: Princes William and Harry paid a quiet tribute to their mother Princess Diana on Wednesday, a day before the 20th anniversary of her death that has reignited interest in one of the world's most famous women.

Diana's two sons met representatives of the charities she supported in a public garden at Kensington Palace, their home and where their mother lived until she was killed in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

Outside the palace gates supporters of the royal family gathered in the rain to mark the occasion, with many praising Diana's sons for keeping her in the public memory.

"Everyone remembers where they were the day she died, and when they heard about it," said 74-year-old Nancy Purinton, on holiday with her husband from the United States. "It was pretty dramatic."

Sheltering under umbrellas, William, Harry and Kate took a tour of the renamed White Garden, which has been transformed temporarily with white English roses and forget-me-nots planted earlier this year.

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

  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Even 20 years after her death in a Paris tunnel on August 31, 1997, princess Diana shows no sign of retreating into the shadows. A wax figure of the popular princess at the Madame Tussauds. Photo: Getty images

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Princess Diana's most enduring legacy is the ability, even now, to engage, capture and divide public opinion. Photo: Getty images

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    The first wife of heir-to-the-throne prince Charles, Diana was the glittering princess at the center of a royal soap opera played out in the glare of the media. Photo: AP

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Princess Diana once said she was in love with prince Charles and 'couldn't take my eyes off him'. Photo: AP

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Princess Diana was so unhappy after her fairy tale wedding with prince Charles that she tried to slash her wrists, according to the secret tapes of the popular princess. Photo: Reuters

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Princess Diana's challenging life behind the royal curtain continues to be a talking point even 20 years after her tragic death. Photo: AFP

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    The royal tag notwithstanding, princess Diana was a protective mother to her two sons. Photo: Reuters

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Known for her charity works, princess Diana's championed causes usually involved the downtrodden and the forgotten. Photo: AP

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Princess Diana traveled widely, interacting with renowned global leaders. A photo from her meeting with former South African president Nelson Mandela. Photo: AP

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    A picture of late princess Diana at the Liberty Flame monument, above the underpass where she was killed in a car accident on August 31, 1997, in Paris, France. Photo: Reuters

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    Many conspiracy theories are doing the rounds on the popular princess' untimely death. Photo: Reuters

    Princess Diana in Memories
  • Princess Diana in Memories

    People have been leaving heartfelt messages on the gates of the Kensington Palace, paying tribute to the iconic lady. Photo: Reuters

    Princess Diana in Memories

The gathering follows weeks of renewed interest in Diana, the first wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles. She has once again become front page news with new revelations about her life and a raft of TV documentaries to mark the anniversary.

Previous anniversaries of her death have passed with little fuss, suggesting that the "People's Princess", as she was dubbed by then-British prime minister Tony Blair, had perhaps lost some of her allure and relevance.

But with the popular William and Harry coming to the fore, the 20th anniversary has sparked a re-examination of the role Diana played in Britain and the royal family, from her lavish wedding in 1981 to her bitter divorce.

Paying tribute

The princes have also been increasingly willing to speak about the trauma of her death and its lasting impact.

"I'm glad that they've finally loosened up a little bit to talk about her and how really hard it was for them," Purinton said of the princes. "I think they were 'stiff upper lip' for so long and now they're able to talk about it, which I think helps other people if they're grieving."

Diana's death in a Paris underpass sparked an outpouring of grief that stunned many Britons, with thousands of mourners descending on the palace to leave flowers and letters to pay tribute to a woman who had become a global fashion icon and charity campaigner.

"I was here the first time around," Alexia McDonald, 54 and a full-time carer, told Reuters. "We were similar age ... (I remember) seeing the fairytale wedding. She was my generation and I just felt a connection.

"I felt I needed to pay my respects to Diana."

Outside the palace on Wednesday, Britons again left flowers, photographs and messages attached to the front gates, although in far fewer numbers than immediately after her death.

After touring the garden, the princes met representatives from causes Diana had supported, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust and The Leprosy Mission.

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

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The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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