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Queen Opens Princess Diana Memorial Fountain - 2004-07-06

Queen Elizabeth opened a memorial fountain for the late Princess Diana on Tuesday in London's Hyde Park. The queen spoke of her fond memories of Diana, despite their often-contentious relationship.

Queen Elizabeth opened the memorial with her first speech about Diana since the eve of her funeral in 1997.

"Of course, there were difficult times," said Queen Elizabeth. "But memories mellow with the passing of the years. I remember especially the happiness she gave to my two grandsons. Such memories are most people's memorials."

But the queen said some people deserve a more public memorial and Diana deserved one because of the impact she had on the world.

"Central to this remains the extraordinary effect Diana had on those around her," she added. "Her drive to empathize with those in difficulty, hardship or distress; her willingness to embrace a new cause; her shrewd ability to size up all those she met allowed her not only to touch people's lives but to change them."

Diana's former husband, Prince Charles, their sons, princes William and Harry and other members of the royal party joined the queen at the brief dedication ceremony. Some of the late princess' relatives from the Spencer family, including her brother Charles, also attended the ceremony.

The Spencer family has not appeared alongside the royal family since Diana's funeral, when Charles Spencer made an angry speech about how she had been treated.

The memorial is a large, shallow, oval moat surrounding a massive area of grass. Water runs down both sides, landing in a pool at the bottom. The surface is lined with anti-slip stones so children can play in the water.

The $6.5 million fountain has received both praise and criticism. Some people say it is not grand enough, while others call it elegant and peaceful. Still others say the money should have been used to build a hospital or some other more-useful institution in keeping with the causes Diana advocated.

The queen complimented the design and said Diana would have appreciated it too.

"I believe that you have given the park, at the very heart of our capital city that Diana knew so well, a highly original memorial which captures something of the essence of a remarkable human being," she noted. "I think Diana would have enjoyed it and I believe she would want all of us to do so, too."

The fountain is near Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived, and close to a walking path and playground also dedicated in her memory.