On the fourth anniversary (August 31) of the death of Princess Diana, visitors are remembering the "People's Princess" by strolling along an 11-kilometer route through four royal parks in central London, including the park that contains Kensington Palace, the princess' home. The walk celebrates the Diana's life and passes many of the places that were important to her.
London's royal parks and the late princess were in many ways inseparable, and author Tom Corby has captured that bond in his new book, "A Walk for Diana." "She lived right in the middle of them, of course, in Kensington Palace, and she used to roller blade there and she used to jog sometimes.
"And when the princes were little, they used to play in Kensington Gardens," he said. "And now, of course, we have this beautiful Diana Memorial playground, too, which is world famous and internationally acclaimed. Full of children everyday, even in bad weather. And that is one of the commemorations of her in the royal parks."
The guidebook, complete with maps and historical references, charts the points of interest along the way. All you have to do, Mr. Corby says, is follow the 90 clearly marked brass plaques along the route. "I would start it in Kensington Gardens, opposite Kensington Palace, which was so closely associated with Princess Diana," he said, "and I would go through Kensington Gardens, then through into Hyde Park, then past Buckingham Palace, then down into St. James's Park with the views of St. James's Palace, the Queen Mother's house, and Spencer House, the townhouse of the Spencer family. Although the walk has no beginning or no end, as we say, that is the usual route."
Tom Corby says the 11-kilometer long Princess of Wales Memorial Walk is a special way to remember Diana, especially this weekend. "I have just come in from Hyde Park, and I saw at least three television companies filming there," he said. "We will get the usual pilgrims, but of course they have been decreasing over the years... After the first year of Diana's death there was a good crowd, and the following year not so many, and then the year after that, even less. So, you know, Diana is in a sense being put into perspective. I mean, a very, very tragic figure and a very beautiful lady, but as the years go by I should imagine that the crowds will get less. And people remember her in their own way as well. They do not have to troupe down to Kensington Palace or Kensington Gardens."
Although the route is complete, one final element remains to be built. That is the Diana Memorial Fountain. Royal Parks officials hope it will be ready in two years.
"A Walk for Diana" is published by Hudsons on behalf of the Royal Parks.