Unfortunately, it was a terribly rainy day. The royals arrived with umbrellas in hand.
It marks a return to engagements for the royal trio before their autumn schedule commences next week. William and Kate spent a week at Balmoral with the Royal family during the annual August break and Prince Harry has just returned from a three-week trip to Botswana with Meghan Markle. The pair were spotted catching a Heathrow Express train home earlier this week.
Kensington Palace described today's appearance as an opportunity for the princes to pay tribute to their mother's life and work. They shared this memorable photograph via Twitter.
A Palace spokesperson told The Telegraph: "They wanted to feel that their mother’s legacy will be celebrated in a positive way. Their objective was to put her character, both as a mother and as someone who was very committed to charity work, into the spotlight. This is reminding people of the work she did right up until her last days, and remembering the people who supported her. The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry very much want to show their gratitude to the public for their continued celebration of their mother's memory. It is a public acknowledgement of the special place the Princess holds in heart of the nation."
For anyone paying attention to television, newspapers and online media, you'll know, it has very much been the summer when attention focused on Diana was firmly renewed. Raking over scandals from the past with a fine tooth comb, figures from Diana's past "revealing" more information, salacious stories.. Of course, William and Harry would have anticipated such coverage and decided to take control of the narrative by appearing in two documentaries. Earlier this summer, William and Harry spoke about their mother and her inspiring work in the ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. They also contributed to the BBC film 'Diana, 7 Days' focused on the 7 days after The Princess' death, and reminded people why the public had such affection for her. One imagines they have carefully considered her legacy and thought the milestone anniversary was the perfect time to speak so publicly, recalling childhood memories and reliving the days following her death. It was reportedly especially important to them to bring the focus back to her charity work - the reason why representatives from eight charities closest to her heart were invited to the Palace today.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry arrive and make their way to The White Garden. pic.twitter.com/MtaJitNLtl— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) August 30, 2017
Historic Royal Palaces revealed: "Planting included an elegant palette of tulips and scented narcisii through a carpet of 'forget me nots'. In the summer, pots of classic English white roses will surround the reflective pool in the centre of the garden and the planting will become more exuberant, with glowing ornamental grasses weaving through Cosmos daisies and billows of graceful Gaura." 12,000 bulbs were planted last Autumn for the display.
The choice of white echoes Diana's love for white and cream hues.
More from this excellent piece by the Evening Standard:
'The architect of this entire transformation around Kensington Palace, opening it up so beautifully, is Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, gardens adviser to the Historic Royal Palaces for 25 years. “The aim was very simply to re-marry the immediate surroundings of the palace with the park itself — to open up the gardens as they were in the 18th century,”
The whole approach to the palace is now open and light, spacious and welcoming, hospitable and even, to look at the pleasure on visitors’ faces, just fun. While seven or eight million people walk up and down the Broad Walk in Kensington Gardens each year, only 100,000 or so used to visit the Palace Gardens. Now it’s a million.
Longstaffe-Gowan was appointed in 2008 after an open competition. After several years of initially alarming destruction and construction — sweeping away 60 massive trees, countless shrubs, and much furnishing clutter to open up views; creating new gravelled walks, terraces, lozenge-shaped beds, and a wildflower meadow; surrounding the statue of Queen Victoria with a reflective pool; installing an amazing hornbeam “Wiggly Walk” up to the renovated Sunken Garden and its Cradle Walk — the gardens re-opened in March 2012. And, as they bed in, they are better year by year. The plan had been long nurtured, “but until the death of Princess Margaret [in 2002] we didn’t have the estate in hand”, as Longstaffe-Gowan tactfully puts it.
Back then, he didn’t like Kensington Palace that much. “There was a sentry box here, it was all very overgrown, it wasn’t at all friendly. These railings had originally been put up for Charles and Diana, he says, “put up to defend the palace from the paparazzi, to create a particular kind of curtilage, an enclosure, absolutely” — and it was in their time too that the gate, previously called the Crowther Gate, standing behind the palace, was installed.
“It obviously has an importance in terms of the Diana story, so when we were considering our plans we never considered removing it. What we wanted to do there was kind of keep it as an object in itself and take the park railings right up to it without any fanfare. Some people found that discourteous, feeling there should be a greater statement, but it’s only the gates that are associated with her, as a sort of secondary relic, so I didn’t feel that the railings and ancillary stuff had anything to do with it at all.” So now the golden gates, the former epicentre of Diana-grief, look merely ornamental, since they are bordered now by an unpretentious five-barred field fence, no more than waist-high, no barrier at all.'
The design and planning of this special garden was explained.
'William, 35, recalled that he remembered “seeing the pigeons and squirrels,” adding, “We used to come here a lot.” Noting that he and Harry used to feed the fish in the garden’s pond, William said, “there never used to be this many in here” — before being told some of the koi carp are so old that they are the same ones from his youth.
“It does look really different,” Kate, in a floral-patterned Prada dress and L.K. Bennett heels, observed. “I love the semi-wildness.”
Prince Harry told staff that when the summer opening of the White Garden wraps, he would like to keep some of the plants and flowers alive, transporting them to his own Kensington Palace plot to tend them. Flowers include the William and Catherine roses, Forget-Me-Nots, and white roses chosen particularly for their perfume. “[William and Harry] were very interested in hearing about the flowers,” says Harkin. “Prince Harry is quite green-fingered himself and asked lots of questions about what we were growing. We were talking about the importance of having plants rather than paving over.”
Afterwards, they met with representatives from organisations supported by Diana during the final years of her life.
These include Great Ormond Street Hospital; the National Aids Trust; The Leprosy Mission; Royal Marsden Hospital; English National Ballet, Child Bereavement UK, Landmine Survivors Network and Centrepoint. It was an opportunity to reflect on the significant achievements of the Princess, and the legacy of her work which continues to resonate with so many today.
Among them was Dr Ken Rutherford, who accompanied her on her final charity trip to raise awareness of landmines in Bosnia. The Telegraph reported:
Dr Rutherford, a landmine survivor who now works in the department for political science at James Madison University, US, said: “For me, it is an honour to be part of recognising someone who was so charismatic she actually changed the world.Princess Diana was determined to make a difference in the lives of landmine survivors around the world. Her public commitment to ban landmines, and the attention she brought to this international issue, was an important catalyst in the adoption of the International Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. Princess Diana accompanied Landmine Survivors Network Co-founders Ken Rutherford and Jerry White to Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the opening of the first Network office. “Many people heard of LSN only because of Diana's involvement,” White says. “She transformed landmines from a security issue into a humanitarian issue.” Diana’s visit had an enormous impact. “You could just feel something big was happening. Everyone was so excited,” said Plamenko Priganica, Director of LSN Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Diana’s visit to Bosnia made Bosnians proud just to be Bosnians. Speaking on the issue Diana said "The world is too little aware of the waste of life, limb and land which anti-personnel landmines are causing among some of the poorest people on earth."
“And now her sons, in such an uncomplicated way, are connecting the dots of her life and continuing her legacy. When I met Prince Harry in April, his first question was: did my mother make a difference? For landmine survivors, she changed everything.”
They met with the founders, former & current patients of the Osteopathic Centre for Children. Diana was learning more about this charity and was due to meet them in early September 1997 to help launch their Sweet Pea appeal.
Diana's work in several of these causes is very much remembered today, particularly her role as patron of the National Aids Trust, which champions the rights of people living with HIV and campaigns for change. In the mid -80s, HIV/Aids terrified the world because of misinformation and a lack of understanding. In 1987, Princess Diana opened the UK's first purpose built HIV/Aids unit that exclusively cared for patients infected with the virus, at London Middlesex Hospital. In front of the world's media, Diana shook the hand of a man suffering with the illness. She did so without gloves, publicly challenging the notion that HIV/Aids was passed from person to person by touch. She showed in a single gesture that this was a condition needing compassion and understanding, not fear and ignorance. During a speech she famously said "HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it." In 2001, President Bill Clinton delivered Diana's lecture on Aids. Gavin Hart from the Trust described her contribution to Aids awareness as "Immeasurable". "In our opinion she was the foremost ambassador for Aids Awareness on the planet and no one can fill her shoes in terms of the work she did".
Peter Waddup, the new National Director of The Leprosy Mission England and Wales has described the organisation as Diana's "forgotten charity". He feels recent documentaries and specials have neglected to include the cause which was deeply important to her. "Princess Diana made huge strides in tackling the prejudice surrounding leprosy but tragically, since her death, leprosy has returned to being the ‘forgotten disease’." Leprosy was a disease that had a huge impact on Diana and she visited a number of Leprosy Mission hospitals, famously making the headlines by touching people affected by the disease, going against the advice of her Royal officials. After visiting the Sitanala Leprosy Hospital in Indonesia in November 1989 the headline in The Sun the next morning was Di to Shake Hands with Leper, Don’t Do It, Di. She spoke passionately at a global anti-leprosy conference in London in 1996 where she explained her actions. “It’s always been my concern to touch people with leprosy, trying to show in a simple action that they are not reviled nor are we repulsed,” she said.
Whilst talking to the Director of the English National Ballet, Kate revealed Charlotte is learning to dance.
|Rebecca English Twitter Feed|
When Diana died, a sea of flowers covered the entrance to KP, providing incredibly emotive images.
This week, well-wishers have left floral tributes once again. William and Harry looked at the flowers and messages before concluding the engagement.
William and Harry lay flowers from members of the waiting crowd.
Rebecca English posted this video.
Video: William and Harry place floral tributes from the waiting crowds outside the gates at Kensington Palacw, Diana's former home. pic.twitter.com/8Z34558noZ— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) August 30, 2017
William and Harry wanted to say thank you to those who made the journey.
People reported "Eight-year-old Gracie Oxby was holding a bouquet of flowers outside the golden gates of Kensington Palace when the 32-year-old approached. “Harry came straight over to Gracie and she said, ‘Could you put the flowers down for me?’ ” says her mom, Rhian. “He said, ‘By all means. Where do you want them?’ He was very friendly and funny and very nice.” Adds Gracie: “It meant a lot to meet a Prince. It was really exciting."
When this little girl wants to leave flowers for Diana, Prince Harry helps out ... placing them exactly where she wants them 😊 pic.twitter.com/kBFTOnfZdI— ITV News (@itvnews) August 30, 2017
William and Harry will mark the anniversary privately tomorrow. Images from William and Harry's impromptu appearance outside KP dominate tomorrow's papers.
"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you" - Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Duchess wore the Prada Poppy Print Silk Dress today (with thanks to HeavenQRF). The choice of poppy print was very appropriate today. Poppies have long been used as a symbol of peace in death, consolation for a loss and remembering the fallen.
The £1,420 piece is crafted from lightweight silk. "Smocking at the waist lends this piece a fit and flare silhouette, while the pussybow detailing finishes things on an undeniably feminine note." Made in Italy, it features a self-tie collar, buttoned cuffs, elasticated waistband.
The official colour is "Smeraldo". It's available at My Theresa and Matches Fashion.
Kate accessorised with her Monica Vinader Siren Wire earrings in green onyx. They remain available for £125 on the Monica Vinader website and Nordstrom.
Kate also wore her trusty L.K. Bennett Fern pumps in trench leather. The shoes are available at L.K. Bennett and ShopBop.
Looking ahead, Kensington Palace revealed plans for William, Kate and Harry's Autumn schedule yesterday. "The coming months will see The Duke & Duchess & Prince Harry undertake a busy autumn programme as TRH return to royal duties & engagements. Over the course of the autumn, TRH will visit a number of communities, charities and organisations across the UK. TRH will continue to highlight the important work of their patronages, & collectively focus on supporting issues surrounding mental health. A particular focus will be the next phase of the Heads Together campaign, with more activity starting in this space in October". They added Kate will continue to focus on addiction, family breakdown and the importance of early intervention. Rebecca English reports their move to London is now complete.
In terms of engagements, the Duchess will will visit Hornsey Road Children's Centre in London on Monday 4th September. The centre, which provides families with valuable support, will host a discussion about perinatal mental health services which are delivered by the charity Family Action, of which Her Majesty The Queen is patron. On Tuesday, the royal trio have a joint engagement. Details are being kept under wraps for the moment. And on Thursday, 7 September, Prince George starts school at Thomas's Battersea. He will be accompanied by William and Kate. One photographer will be present, so we can expect to see several photographs released. It was also revealed William and Kate will undertake a tour in November. I expect it's quite likely it will be another Brexit tour focused on relations with Europe. At The Queen's Garden Party in May, William revealed "Hopefully we are going to Norway very soon.". A tour of Scandinavia looks a likely possibility. We'll hear more details in due course. I look forward to seeing a busier schedule for the royals and the continuation of Heads Together in particular.