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Princess Diana Remembered

Walkway, children's playground honor Princess Diana

by David Johnson

A plaque marking the Princess Diana Memorial Walk in London's Kensington Gardens in June 2000, after the walk was completed. The plaques chart a walkway through London's parks commemorating Princess Diana. (Source:AP)

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As the third anniversary of her death approached, Diana, Princess of Wales, was remembered through a fantasy garden for children and a seven-mile walkway snaking through London parks.

After sifting through some 10,000 ideas submitted by the public, the Diana Memorial Committee chose to remodel the children's playground in Kensington Gardens. It is now known as the Peter Pan Playground because the playground was created in 1906 with money from Sir James Matthew Barrie, author of Peter Pan.

The site, which is near Diana's former Kensington Palace home, includes six play areas, including an Indian village complete with totem poles and tepees; a pirate ship; and a mermaid's fountain. Organizers said they wanted to benefit one of Diana's favorite causes, children. In addition, the playground will be accessible to children with disabilities.

The playground and walkway cost roughly $4.8 million, paid for by the Royal Parks Agency.

Walk Through the Park

The seven-mile walkway meanders through several royal parks in downtown London, including Kensington Gardens, St. James's Park, Green Park, and Hyde Park. The route passes a number of locations important in Diana's life, including Kensington Palace, her home for 15 years; Buckingham Palace, where she stayed following her engagement; St. James's Palace, where she maintained an office; Clarence House, home of the Queen Mother; and Spencer House, former London mansion of the Spencer family.

Seventy plaques proclaiming the walkway will mark its route. The committee is also considering sites along the walkway for a Diana memorial fountain.

Chancellor Gordon Brown and Royal Parks Minister Alan Howarth led the June 30, 2000 ceremonies opening the playground. Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, and a number of her close friends attended. However, no members of the royal family appeared. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said Princes William and Henry had declined to attend, while other members of the family were busy with other engagements.

Prince William Honors Diana on Emblem

The coat of arms designed to commemorate Prince William's 18th birthday remembers Diana's family, the Spencers. The coat of arms for Prince William includes a small red scallop shell from the Spencer coat of arms. In fact, the Earl Spencer has used the scallop shell on emblems since the 16th century. The shell was also a popular symbol for medieval pilgrims.

William insisted on the shell's use in the new coat of arms, which also draws on symbols used by the Queen and by his father, Prince Charles.

The coat of arms features a lion and a unicorn holding a shield. The scallop shell appears four times: on the necks of the lion and the unicorn; on the lion appearing above the shield; and on the shield itself.

Since the prince is an heir apparent to the throne, he is allowed three points along the top of the shield. Normally, only children of the monarch get three points, and grandchildren receive five points.

William's coat of arms will also likely change as he moves forward in the line of succession.



Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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