Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in London
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain is a memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. It was designed to express Diana's spirit and love of children. It is located in the southwest corner of Hyde Park in London, just south of the Serpentine Lake and east of the Serpentine Gallery. Its cornerstone was laid in September 2003 and it was officially opened on 6 July 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II. Also present were Diana's younger brother Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, her ex-husband Prince Charles, and her sons William and Harry.
The fountain was designed by Kathryn Gustafson, an American landscape artist, and cost £3.6 million. Ms. Gustafson said she had wanted the fountain, which was built to the south of the Serpentine, to be accessible and to reflect Diana's "inclusive" personality. Ms. Gustafson told the BBC "Above all I hope that it provides a fitting memorial for the princess and does credit to the amazing person that she was."
The 545 individual pieces of Cornish granite were cut using sophisticated computer-guided cutting machines by S. McConnell & Sons in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland.
Although described as an oval stone fountain, it has the form of a large, oval stream bed about 50 by 80 m (165 by 260 feet) that surrounds, and is surrounded by, a lush grassy field. The granite streambed is from 3 to 6 m (10 to 20 feet) wide and quite shallow and is laid out on a gently sloping portion of the park, so that water pumped to the top of the oval flows down either side. One side of the stream bed descends fairly smoothly to the downhill end of the oval with gentle ripples. The other side consists of a variety of steps, rills, curves, and other shapes so that the water plays in interesting ways as it flows to the tranquil pool at the bottom. The two sides were intended to show the two sides of Diana's life, both happy times and turmoil.
Because Diana was a contemporary and accessible princess, the fountain's goal was to allow people access to the structure and to the water for quiet wading and contemplation. However, shortly after its opening and after three hospitalisations caused by people slipping in the water, the fountain was closed. It reopened in August 2004, surrounded by a new fence, and people were prevented from walking or running in the water by six wardens. Now, however, entering the water is again permitted.
However, even though the fountain was only open for a part of the 2004 season, and the weather was not particularly wet, the grass adjacent to part of the fountain was almost obliterated, and it appeared that it would turn to a quagmire if heavy rain ever fell during the main visiting season. Therefore in December 2004, another alteration project was started. This involved work on the drainage, together with laying new hard surfaces on some of the most frequently walked areas of the site and the planting of a special hard wearing rye grass mix in others.
- Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
- Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
- Aerial view
- Description of fountain's design
- Royal Parks Press Room page
- Discussion of minor controversies
- BBC reports the reopening of the fountain