The Londoness


Born in Paris.

Made in London.

Teller of London Tales.

I Spy Lady Di

Unless you’ve just woken up from a coma, you will know that this Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales’s death. Diana, or Lady Di, as she was known, continues to fascinate us today, and the memory of the People’s Princess still beats at the core of London’s heart. Di is omnipresent on London’s map: the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Playground and Memorial Walk, the White Garden and Kensington Palace. Later this year, a statue will be unveiled by Princes William and Harry in Kensington Palace. And for a taste of the macabre, you can find a memorial for her in the lower-ground floor of Harrods.

Lady Di Princess Diana in London

As a 12-year-old Parisian girl who spent her summers in England, I was utterly bewildered and bemused by all the brouhaha over the royal engagement. My friend’s mother kept scrapbooks containing newspaper and magazine cuttings of every possible snippet of the soon-to-be royal couple. Teapots, mugs, tea towels and commemorative coins made an appearance.

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Diana wedding

Visiting my friend in the Avignon last month, I was thrilled to discover she had kept every scrapbook and newspaper from the wedding as well as of Diana’s funeral. If you’re interested in taking a peek at the front pages of some of the newspapers,, scroll to the bottom of this post.

 

In memory of the People’s Princess, I thought it would be fun to re-trace Diana’s steps through London. Hand in hand, we will visit poignant landmarks, favourite shops and restaurants, meeting friends and foes along the way.

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Prince Charles, William and Harry

60 Coleherne Court, Little Boltons, Kensington

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, 60 Coleherne Court

So, this is where the romance started: No 60, Coleherne Court is where a Sloaney Lady Diana Spencer lived with her three roommates when her courtship with Prince Charming started. The 17-year-old Prince Charles first met Diana when she was only five years old, when she was at Sandringham having a playdate with Prince Andrew. They met again in November 1977 when she was 16 and he was dating Diana’s sister, Sarah. In 1980, Charles started courting Diana, proposing to her in February in 1981.

Garrard, 24 Albermale Street, Mayfair

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, engagement, Garrard, Prince Charles

Diana’s engagement ring, now worn by Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was from Garrard. Diana chose a 12-carat Ceylon sapphire with a cluster of 18 solitaire diamonds. Her Majesty The Queen picked up the £28,000 tab.

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Garrard

In 1843, Queen Victoria appointed Garrard as Crown Jeweller. Garrard re-cut the famous Koh-i-Noor 105.6 carat diamond, now set in the centre of the Queen Mother’s Crown. The company also created the Delhi Durbar tiara, worn by Queen Mary in 1911 for King George V’s coronation as Emperor of India (image: Wellcome Trust).

Goldsmith’s Hall, Foster Lane, City of London

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Goldsmith's Hall, Prince Charles

(Image: Goldsmith’s Hall)

Goldsmith’s Hall is where Diana “came out” for her first public engagement with Charles. She wore that  black dress, the foxy number with the generous décolleté, and was instantly catapulted onto the world stage and into a fashion icon.

Goldsmiths’ Hall is a Grade I building in the City of London. The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths has been here since 1339, and it was a sparkling location for a dazzling debut. It’s available for hire if you’re thinking of holding any swanky parties.

Clarence House, The Mall

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Clarence House, Prince Charles

Image: Royal Collection Trust  © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Clarence House was the home of Elizabeth, The Queen Mother when Diana married Charles, and it’s where Diana spent her last night as a Lady Di. She dined with her sister upstairs, whilst the Queen Mother dined and watched an episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ with Diana’s maternal grandmother downstairs.

Clarence House is now the official residence of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. The original house was built by John Nash between 1825 and 1827 but sustained bomb damage during the Blitz. Clarence House has since undergone a major facelift. It’s open to the public for a limited time in August each year.

St Paul’s Cathedral

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, St Paul's, Prince Charles wedding

The fairy-tale wedding that wasn’t meant to be was watched by a global audience of 750 million on Wednesday, 29 July 1981. Diana insisted on being 30 seconds late for her wedding, despite royal protocol that dictated absolute punctuality. You can see the Glass Coach used to transport Diana and her father, Earl Spencer, here.

Le Caprice, 20 Arlington Street, St James’s

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Cipriani, London restaurants

The night she died, Le Caprice, one of Diana’s most-loved restaurants, kept her table empty. Diana wasn’t the only member of the royal family who liked tucking into a plate of modern European fare at Le Caprice: Princess Margaret was a fan and it’s one of Camilla’s favourites. Londoness is also rather partial to the fish and chips – with chips and minted puréed peas, of course.

San Lorenzo, Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, San Lorenzo

Closer to home, San Lorenzo was also a favourite of Diana’s. She became close friends with the Italian owns Mara and Lorenzo Berni, and the restaurant soon became a sanctuary for her. She would frequently eat here with William and Harry.

Da Mario Pizza, Gloucester Road

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, , Da Mario

Diana liked to bring William and Harry for pizza here. Da Mario is where Renee Zellweger scoffed down countless pizzas in a bid to pile the 20 pounds on for her role in ‘Bridget Jones.’

Kensington Palace

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, or KP as Diana referred to it, was the Princess’s home until her death. She lived in Apartments 8 and 9 with William and Harry (and Charles, of course, pre-separation). Today, it is home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, John Trovolta, Kensington Palace, Fashion

If you can get a ticket, the exhibit ‘Diana: her Fashion Story,’ is well worth a visit. The collection includes dresses from her first public appearances (a chintzy, rather fuddy-duddy array) to the spectacular outfits which morphed her into a style icon. My favourite? The ‘Travolta’ dress which she wore in the White House in 1985. (Image right: Ronald Regan Library).

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Kensington Palace, Diana funeral

Kensington Palace on the day of Diana’s funeral (image by Duncan Kelman).

Kensington Gardens

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens

Diana was a regular in and around the park, and I even caught a glimpse of her rollerblading out of Kensington Palace Gardens back in the early 90s. The historic Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace has been transformed into a White Garden, in memory of Diana.

Kensington High Street

Only a hop, skip and a jump from KP, Diana would occasionally be seen in McDonalds (with William and Harry), Barkers department store (now Whole Foods) and Marks and Spencer.

Lindo Wing, St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Lindo Wng, William and Harry

This is where the magic happens, where the royal cherubs are born and introduced to the world. Royal obstetrician George Pinker was responsible for relocating the royal births from palace to hospital, and he subsequently delivered nine royal babies at the Lindo. Prince George and Princess Charlotte are the most recent royal births here. I have visited the Lindo as a patient, sitting in front of the lift down which future kings (and possibly queens) have made their inaugural journey, and can tell you that it’s a very standard-looking hospital wing. No palatial luxuries here, ma’am.

Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, Chelsea

Diana first met Hasnat Khan at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Khan was a doctor here, and Diana was instantly smitten. She spent many nights here in Khan’s overnight room, using her visits to patients in the hospital as a decoy.

Ormeley Lodge, Ham

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Kensington Palace, Charles Camilla, Ormeley Lodge, Annabel Goldsmith

Image, courtesy of my lovely friend, Lucy Siddiqi who likes to walk her dog past Ormeley Lodge.

Ormeley Lodge is an imposing Queen Anne mansion in Ham, on the fringes of Richmond Park. Home to Annabel Goldsmith (the Mayfair nightclub is named after her,) she was a great friend and confidante of Diana’s. It’s here that Diana famously confronted Charles and Camilla at a birthday party over their affair.

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Serpentine Gallery

Who can forget Diana’s drop-dead gorgeous frock at the Vanity Fair summer party held at the Serpentine Gallery in 1994? It was a bombshell of a gown, dubbed the ‘Revenge Dress.’. The party was held on the same night as Charles was on ITV, spilling the beans to Jonathan Dimbleby about his marriage. I’ll let you guess who grabbed the headline news the following morning.

Catherine Walker, Sydney Street, Chelsea

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Catherine Walker, Kensington Palace, Fashion

Catherine Walker supplied a whopping 1,000 outfits for Princess Diana. She was buried in a black Walker-designed dress.

Two Billion Broken Hearts

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Diana funeral

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Diana funeralPrincess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Diana funeralPrincess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Diana funeral

Princess Diana, Diana's London, Lady Di, Funeral

Image: Duncan Kelman

Candle in the Wind

I wanted to end this post with a rather sweet postscript. Diana’s favourite tune was Manning Sherwin’s, ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,’ She would listen to this whilst writing her innumerable handwritten notes from Kensington Palace.

Sources: ‘The Diana Chronicles,’ by Tina Brown, Wikipedia. Feature image by Everchr. Thank you to Angela de Plano for letting me use her mother’s clippings, and to Duncan Kelman for his photos of Diana’s funeral. You can follow Duncan on Instagram.

 

Born in Paris. Made in London. Teller of London Tales.

13 Comments

  • A Belle & A Brit

    September 19, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    This is such a wonderful and enjoyable post, and great tribute to Diana♥ I was only 9 at the time, but even as a child I remember what a horrible tragedy her death was. My mother absolutely loved Diana, and I remember waking up at 3 in the morning US time with her, to watch the funeral live in London. So much sadness that day. I’ll be sure to visit some of these places when I get back to London later this year. Thanks for this Scarlett! ♥♥♥

    Reply
  • Shelley Roitman

    September 1, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Alas, she was a star, and he was not, & therein lay the problem. As we follow Londoness around town beautifully restoring the life of the People’s Princess, we cannot help but wish – might it not turn out some other way?

    Reply
  • Miriam

    August 31, 2017 at 7:49 am

    There are so many things I did not know about her – she really was an unbelievable woman with so much grace and kindness. Would love to visit the places you have mentioned in this post, such a great read! Can’t believe today marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, it seems just like yesterday.

    Miriam x

    Reply
  • Cameron Macdonald

    August 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Hello
    Thoroughly enjoy you Blogs and research. I noticed you may have not listed Cafe Diana in Nottinghill Gate. I managed to visit it in June and the obvious displays at KP many times. However addresses for the next trip you have invested so much more for this London passionate who lives way too far away Down Under. I too was made in London am now again a regular visitor when once it wasn’t always possible. A strange hideous yearning and very emotional sensation not being able to return to that ever so real dimension ones soul calls home. It’s always calling you home never stops its relentless. There must be plenty of us absentee Londoners spinning round the world away from a place we know so perfectly mostly probably previous lives. Just sayin.
    Sincerely grateful for your posts Ty Jeffries introduced me to and you.
    Cameron Macdonald

    Reply
    • DiaryofaLondoness

      August 28, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      Ah Cameron, you have just answered my question from Facebook! Down Under is a bit too far away for a quick jaunt to London. Thanks for pointing out Cafe Diana, there were a number of cafes and restaurants I know she frequented but the post was getting rather voluminous! But you are right, she used to go there with the boys. Their school, Wetherby, was close by (another one I wanted to include in the post). I was fascinated doing the research for this – so much to learn about the beautiful Lady Di. And quite the most photogenic person ever – except for Miss Hope Springs of course! Thank for reading the blog and all your fun comments – it means a lot to me! Scarlett x

      Reply
  • Louise Riis

    August 28, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Oh wow. So many things that I didn’t know about Diane’s hang out places (and now I need to try them out of course)
    I do however know Coleherne Court (as I live just oppostite), and when my friends come to visit, they find it VERY interesting, that Diana lived just across the street! (I am very proud of this of course, haha!) 😉

    Loved this post! Diana truly was a remarkable woman (and oh my God that Travolta dress… My all time favourite)

    X Louise

    Reply
    • DiaryofaLondoness

      August 28, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      You certainly live in a great area Louise! Yes, that Travolta dress was just fabulous. I feel like I got to know a little bit of Diana whilst doing all this research – she had her naughty moments, but she really truly was an English Rose. Enjoy Little Boltons – hope you’re having a nice sundowner! Scarlett

      Reply
      • Louise Riis

        August 28, 2017 at 6:05 pm

        Well, dont we all have our naughty moments from time to time… I think it’s part of being human haha! Anyway, you will have to come and visit one day for sure and tell me all about Diana! Lots of love from “Hormone-land”
        X

        Reply

Leave a Reply