Princess Diana’s favourite places in London
Born into a wealthy family in 1961, Diana Spencer was never going to be ordinary. After her father inherited the title Earl Spencer in 1975, Diana became a Lady. That same year, the family moved to the stately home of Althorp in Northamptonshire (Diana’s final resting place, above). The Spencers mingled with the royal family: her grandmother was lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother, while her elder sister Sarah dated Princes Charles in the 1970s.
Following her engagement to Prince Charles in February 1981 and subsequent wedding at St Paul’s Cathedral in July that year, Diana became known for her work with the homeless, people with disabilities and those with HIV and AIDS, while campaigning to ban landmines; no wonder the public loved her.
St Paul’s Cathedral was chosen for their wedding in order to accommodate the massive congregation of 3,500. A further 600,000 people lined the streets, while the global TV audience was around 750 million. Diana wore an Emanuel ivory taffeta and lace gown with a 7.6m train, while Charles wore his naval commander uniform. A highlight of any visit is the Golden Gallery, 85m above the ground. The view makes the 528 steps up to it worth the climb.
Gone but not forgotten, more than two billion people watched or listened to her funeral at Westminster Abbey (above) on 6 September 1997.
20 years after her death, the People’s Princess and style icon was remembered in Diana, Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace – her former home. Following the evolution of her style, from the pale pink Emanuel blouse worn for her engagement portrait (top picture) to her glamorous evening gowns, it proved she was a revolutionary: Diana was the first royal not to wear gloves
or hats at formal occasions, saying ‘you can’t cuddle a child with
a hat on’.
There are memorials to the princess across London. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain opened in Hyde Park in 2004, inspired by her spirit and love of children.
Diana was passionate about dance: in 1985, she danced with John Travolta at President Reagan’s White House Gala; Diana also performed with Wayne Sleep, a former dancer for the Royal Ballet Company, at the Royal Opera House as a surprise for Charles’ birthday. The princess dreamed of becoming a ballerina and was a fan of the English National Ballet, becoming a patron in 1989. If you’d like to see ballet in London, Sadler’s Wells is a major hub, while the Peacock Theatre regularly stages child-friendly ballets. www.ballet.org.uk
Launceston Place was Diana’s local – perhaps because she could enter from her car in an alleyway with one step, then hide in its warren of rooms.
Diana also liked taking William or her former lover James Hewitt to San Lorenzo, a family-run Italian in Knightsbridge that opened in 1963. Also popular with Princess Margaret, Sophia Loren and Eric Clapton, Diana’s sons William and Harry still dine there.
Diana also ate at celebrity favourite L’Escargot in Soho (pictured here), once visiting with the dancer Wayne Sleep. Established in 1927, it specialises in snails, lobster and coq au vin – although Diana liked the seared tuna with lentils.