The British royals rededicated Princess Diana’s grave and held a private memorial service on July 1, on the island of the Oval Lake at Althorp House in England, the Princess of Wales’ family estate in Northamptonshire where she grew up and was laid to rest nearly 20 years ago.
The Duke of Cambridge Prince William and his brother Prince Harry gathered with family on Saturday to pay tribute to their beloved mother, who died in a car crash in Paris, France, on August 31, 1997.
According to BBC News, Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, was by his side during the emotional tribute, along with their two children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 2, and Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer.
A source said: “It is 20 years since Princess Diana’s death and it is important to them that George and Charlotte are able to show their respects.”
Diana’s two older sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, 60, and Baroness Fellowes, 62, also attended the service conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Fans bedecked the gates of Kensington Palace, her former London home, with flags, remembrance cards, and pics from her life.
Social media, too, is flooded with sad birthday messages for the queen of hearts who was an icon for humanity and goodwill all over the world.
Prince Charles – Diana’s ex-husband and Harry and William’s father – was notably absent from the service, as he was performing Royal duties in Ottawa with his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in honor of Canada’s 150th birthday.
This is the start of a difficult few months for Prince William and Prince Harry as they remember their mother who, they say, smothered them in love.
At the time of Diana’s death, William was 15 and Harry was 12 and were naturally traumatized as children. Her death anniversary is just two months away.
The princes have commissioned a statue of Princess Diana to mark the 20th anniversary of her death, who believe that they could do nothing to “protect her.”
The sculpture will be placed on the public grounds of her former residence, Kensington Palace.
The Diana Award – a charity established to promote the Princess’s belief in the positive power of young people – is also staging a year-long celebration of her qualities of kindness, compassion, and service.
The service comes after William and Harry chose to speak publicly about the impact their mum’s death had on them.
In a BBC documentary, the princes had shared their thoughts on their mother and in heartbreaking guilt confessed to feeling that they let her down. They vowed to “stand up for her name” and let the world know what difference she had made not only to the royal family but to the world.
In stark contrast to the 56th birthday was Diana’s 36th birthday when she woke up to 90 bouquets of flowers, and Prince Harry ringing from school to sing “Happy Birthday” over the phone with a group of classmates.
On her final birthday, Diana was in dazzling form, recalls her brother Earl Spencer. He was by her side at a gala in London’s Tate Gallery, where the Princess was the guest of honor at the invitation of director Nicholas Serota, whose wife Dame Angela was a friend through Diana’s work for AIDS patients.
Earl Spencer poignantly said at his sister’s funeral just two months later: “The last time I saw Diana was on July 1, her birthday in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honor at a special charity fundraising evening. She sparkled, of course.”
Diana’s birthday ensemble was this eye-catching gown, which was a surprise birthday gift from designer Jacques Azagury who had it delivered to Kensington Palace that day.
In an interview, the designer had said that in the final stages of her life, “she was happier than I had ever seen her. There was something about the way she carried herself; a certain new-found confidence.”
In September, she was due to travel to Hong Kong, newly handed over by the British to China, on a three-day visit for a cancer charity coordinated by her friend and Chinese entrepreneur David Tang. That sadly never happened with the untimely death and an ironic funeral where many of those present today at her birthday would later be.
[Featured Image by AP Images]