Twenty years ago this week, two young princes stood and contemplated the flowers left in memory of the mother they had lost. Two decades on, they did the same. The sight of William and Harry looking at tributes left in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales as the twentieth anniversary of her death approaches is perhaps the moment we will all take away from the sea of remembrances that have marked this summer. Twenty years on, they remain forever her boys.
William and Harry in front of those gates immediately brings back memories of them as youngsters, bravely looking at tributes in the days after their mother's passing on August 31st 2017. Then they were handed flowers and cards from wellwishers and twenty years on history repeated itself. The two princes were passing the afternoon at Kensington Palace where several events had been scheduled. But an impromptu walkabout ended with William and Harry accepting floral tributes which they then placed at the gates along with others already left. Two boys, two decades, too poignant.
There was something instantly moving about seeing William and Harry in front of the tributes to Diana. Face to face with their mother, with banners declaring how great she was, with words written large that her legacy lives on in them, it felt almost overwhelming. And maybe that's why it struck such a chord. It made us remember those days after Diana's death when that huge sea of public grief came rushing at them and they handled it all with such dignity. Twenty years on, they took the tributes and accepted them with grace and the imagery was lost on no one.
The moment at the gates came during what will be William and Harrry's only public appearance during the time of the actual anniversary itself. The princes, along with the Duchess of Cambridge, toured the White Garden at Kensington Palace planted in memory of Diana and met gardener Sean Harkin who worked on the tribute as well as Graham Dillamore who tended the grounds during Diana's time at the palace.
TRH's meet with the founders, former & current patients of the Osteopathic Centre for Children. pic.twitter.com/79vWPT1yx4— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) August 30, 2017
There was also a chance for the trio to meet representatives of some of the charities of which Diana was patron. Among the people they chatted to were members of the Osteopathic Centre for Children - the organisation had been in contact with the princess about their Sweet Pea appeal in the months before her death. One of the meetings already in her diary for September 1997 was with them. That summed up this afternoon. Memories of a princess and many reminders that her life was cut tragically short and her work, which helped many people, ended far too soon.
But it was the walkabout with the small crowds gathered in heavy rain that proved the moment that will endure. Beneath umbrellas, with the weather getting worse as the minutes passed by, William and Harry stopped to chat, to listen and to accept more tributes to Diana. They then walked over to the gates and carefully arranged the flowers among the bouquets already left there.
A tweet from Kensington Palace said that they were ''grateful for the many flowers, letters and messages they had received about their mother'' while a later one added '' they wanted to say thank you to those who made the journey to Kensington Palace''. Diana's legacy is a big one. She is the royal who changed royalty, the princess who embraced celebrity, the woman who wanted to help and who altered far more for the good than she probably ever knew. Those who came to pay tribute brought all that with them. The princes took it all in their stride while making sure their mother was centre stage. Whatever happens on personal, public or constitutional levels one thing stands out in the tale of William, Harry, Diana and will always remain. They are forever her boys.